Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Review: The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

The woman was there again, pushing the swing, except this time the swing wasn’t empty. Holding tightly to the rope arms sat a small boy, his mouth open in laughter, the sound like soft air brushing against my cheeks.
[pg 21]

The House on Tradd Street
by Karen White

New American Library, 2008
Fiction; 329 pgs

Melanie Middleton was the best at her job. She had made a name for herself as the go to person if you were looking to buy or sell a historical home in Charleston. However, her own tastes ran toward the modern, finding the old homes to be money holes and more trouble than they were worth. Her feelings had everything to do with the fact that she could see dead people, a gift she had inherited from the mother who had abandoned her when she was a young child.

She never anticipated what a single visit to the elderly Nevin Vanderhorst would bring about. Melanie went to the home hoping to add it to her list of available homes for sale, only to discover Nevin was really only interested in talking to her. His father and Melanie’s grandfather had at one time been best friends and business partners until a falling out in the early 1930’s. Nevin’s mother had supposedly abandoned him around that time, although Nevin knew in his heart that could not possibly be true.

Upon his death, just days after Melanie’s visit with him, Nevin willed his house to Melanie. In a letter, he mentioned that he wanted Melanie to uncover the truth about his mother’s disappearance. Due to terms in the will which includes that she cannot sell the house for at least a year and is to spend funds from the estate on its restoration, Melanie is saddled with a house and a dog she does not want. Meanwhile, she is also surrounded by the ghosts of the house, including a malevolent spirit that desperately wants her out.

Author Jack Trenholm, well known for exposing little known histories, has taken an interest in the house and its history. He convinces Melanie to allow him access to the house; however, he is not completely forthcoming with her about his motives. The two have their work cut out for them as they begin the restoration process and their quest to uncover the truth behind the secrets buried there.

Karen White’s novel, The House on Tradd Street, is all at once a ghost story, a mystery, with a dash of romance. Melanie’s own past is connected to that old house both by ancestral ties as well as the similarities in hers and Nevin’s situations. They were both seemingly abandoned by their mothers at a young age, and, as Melanie searches out the truth of one past, she must face her own.

Melanie is one of those women most of us love to hate. She is both beautiful and can eat anything she wants without worry about gaining a pound. She is extremely practical and likes to maintain control of her life and situations she finds herself in. She sees her ability to communicate with the dead as a burden and tries to stifle her gift, ignoring the voices and spirits around her as often as she can. She is highly successful in her career but her personal life is lacking. Melanie does not let many people get too close. She has been disappointed too many times to take that risk again. There was an occasion or two when I did get annoyed with Melanie, knowing she was smarter than she was acting, but I suppose we all have moments like that, don't we?

I was most drawn to Melanie’s relationship with her father. For as long as she could remember, Melanie had to pick up after her father who drank too much. She has trouble believing he can maintain his new found sobriety and is not sure she wants to give him another chance. They are forced together due to the terms of Nevin’s will, however. I could plainly feel Melanie’s distrust, skepticism, and love for her father just as I could sense Mr. Middleton’s desire to make things right in his daughter’s eyes, knowing he’s disappointed her almost beyond repair.

The ghosts themselves were intriguing characters. Louisa, Nevin’s mother, carried the scent of roses with her. She had loved her son dearly, as well as her husband. Although it took awhile for Melanie to figure out who the evil spirit in the house was, it really was no surprise. He lived in the afterlife much as he did when he was alive.

The story was both absorbing and compelling. Not to mention I loved the setting of the novel. Karen White made me feel right at home in Charleston, South Carolina, capturing the atmosphere and the history. It will be interesting to see where the author takes us in the second installment, The Girl on Legare Street, featuring Melanie Middleton and Jack Trenholm, which is due out about this time next year. I would love the opportunity to meet Melanie’s mother.

Rating: * (Good +)

Be sure and check out the author's website. If you would like to follow Karen White's book tour in progress, visit the Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours blog.

Thank you to Dorothy of Pump Up Your Book Promotion and the author, Karen White, for the opportunity to participate in this book tour.

See What Others Had to Say About This Book:
The Book Czar
Cafe of Dreams
Diary of an Eccentric
S. Krishna's Books
Savvy Verse & Wit (Author's Guest Post)


  1. This is definitely one of the books on my to be read pile!

  2. Sounds really intriguing! That first quote you provided is really chilling.

  3. I like the sound of this one! November is a great month for the supernatural!

  4. This sounds fascinating, so I'm adding it to my wish list.

  5. Thanks, everyone--I hope you enjoy the book.

    I will admit that I had more fun than I think I should have while writing this book. I'm in the middle of writing the sequel right now and am falling in love with Melanie and Jack all over again.

    And I agree with the comment that November is a great month for the superanatural!

  6. I spent most of one day wandering the streets of Charleston. I love the city. Yet another book to track down. Thanks for the review!

  7. Thanks for the review. This one sounds interesting....

  8. I've got this one on my wishlist. It sounds SO good!

  9. Thanks for the great review, Wendy! With "a mixture of a ghost story, a mystery and a dash of romance"...this book definitely sounds right up my alley. :)

  10. This sure interests me. I entere a giveaway for it at Serena's blog, I think!

  11. Thank you so much for this review. I hadn't heard of the book and it sounds like a story I would enjoy. I'm going to be on the look out for it.

  12. Thanks so much for the link love! I am looking forward to your Q&A with Karen. She's a gem to work with and very creative.

    I really liked your review...another good one.

  13. gautami is right, I do have a giveaway going and anyone is welcome to enter until nov. 14.

  14. This sounds really interesting. I'm a sucker for books set in Charleston. My brother lived there for a few years and it's one of my favorite places I've visited.

  15. Thanks for this great review, Wendy. I am looking forward to reading this one. I love ghost stories.

  16. I've read this book and it's one of the best books I've ever read. Karen brought everything together very nicely in this one.


  17. Margay - I hope you enjoy it!

    Trish - I thought that was a good quote to open my review with. :-)

    Jenclair - I agree! November does seem like a good month for the supernatural.

    Kathy - It's worth reading!

    Karen - I was lost in your story and in the lives of the characters as well, which is a definite sign that your enjoyment in writing this book came through in your writing. :-)

    Cathy - I would love to visit Charleston someday! It sounds like a beautiful and varied place.

    Dar - I hope you enjoy it when you get to it!

    Amy - It was interesting.

    Jen - I think you would like this one. You should definitely give it a try!

  18. Melody - I think you would like this one too, Melody. :-)

    Gautami - Good luck! I hope you are able to get a copy!

    Nan - This was my first Karen White book and not my last. :-)

    Serena - You're welcome! :-) And thank you for linking my review. I do hope I get the answers back for my Q&A soon so I can share them with you all. I know Karen's extra busy right now, and so I imagine that's why the delay.

    Suzi - Oo! It's even better when you read about a place you've been. :-)

    Susan - I enjoy a good ghost story too!

    Cheryl - Yes, she most certainly did do a good job bringing everything together. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

  19. Another one to go into my wishlist! Thanks for the great review. I think I'll have to change my stand on not reading ghost stories. There are just so many interesting ones out there. :)

  20. I am in LOVE with Charleston & always enjoy a story centering in the heart of it! I was hoping to enjoy this book over the holidays, but I opened it in car rider line last Thursday afternoon & COULD NOT put it down...finsihed it Saturday morning! I almost CRIED when I saw the note in the back...November 2009!! I cannot wait to read more! Fabulous work, I LOVED it!! :)

  21. Little Precious Boutique - I admit that this book sure had me wanting to visit Charleston after reading it. It sounds like a wonderful place. I am glad you enjoyed the novel. :-)

  22. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance to win it!

  23. Your review had me wishing I already had this book and could start reading it right away! I'd love to win it! Thanks for the giveaway!


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