I have some mixed feelings about this story. First, let me say that I loved The Restorer
and I was very excited when I found out that this prequel was available. The events take place shortly before Amelia is hired to restore the old cemetery. But she isn't the main character here. This story centers on Ree, a graduate student who is interning at a psychiatric hospital. When an old patient named Violet dies, Ree is unexpectedly drawn in to the bizarre and haunting circumstances of her life and the life of her mother, Ilsa.
One of the doctors at the hospital knows Violet's secrets. In fact, his family had a hand in her tortured past. Ree overhears a conversation that tips her off to all this, placing her in danger. She makes an ally in a paranormal investigator named Hayden and the two of them become involved, while trying to figure out what happened to Violet's mother and its connection to the mysterious Order of the Coffin and the Claw.
All of this is great. Mysterious and foreboding. But I got lost in the love scene where Hayden seemed to be possessed. It makes sense that Ilsa may have used him to get her revenge at the end. But why would she take him over while he was having sex with Ree? And if it wasn't Ilsa, who the hell was it? There was a definitely sinister vibe to Hayden from that point on, turning him into essentially an entirely different character than we knew for the first part of the story. And even though he saves Ree when she needs him, I still don't feel like she can trust him. I hate that all of that is left hanging.
As for the tie-in with The Restorer
... we meet a few of the main characters, but we only really see them from Ree's perspective. It sets up the series less from a character or ghostly perspective, and focuses more on laying the foundation for the Order of the Coffin and the Claw and its nefarious activities. It was a good story, but I hate feeling confusion when I finish a book. 3 stars.