Saturday, October 30, 2021

Fiction Review: The House on Tradd Street

Looking for a good Halloween read? I thoroughly enjoyed The House on Tradd Street by Karen White, a ghostly mystery that is perfect for the season! My son picked out this novel for me for my birthday, and it is the first of a series--I look forward to reading more.

Melanie is a real estate agent in Charleston, SC, who specializes in the older, historic homes that fill the city. Ironically, though, Melanie herself doesn't really like those kind of historic homes full of character; she herself lives in a bland, new condo. Perhaps one reason that Melanie prefers her modern, character-less home is that she can see ghosts. She's known this about herself since she was a little girl, and it's something she shares with the mother who abandoned her as a child. Melanie does her best to avoid or ignore ghosts, but in a city like Charleston, filled with the history of centuries, they are everywhere. When the elderly Mr. Vanderhorst invites Melanie to his home on Tradd Street, she thinks it is like any other real estate call and that he is interested in selling the historic home. But then he dies suddenly the very next day, and Melanie finds out that he left his beautiful but decrepit home to ... her. She really doesn't want it, but it will be a worth a lot after some repair work, so she follows the edicts of the will and moves in. She has an assortment of friends and new acquaintances to help with the extensive renovation work needed on the house, included Jack Trenholm, an attractive writer of narrative nonfiction best-sellers. His latest obsession is the missing diamonds from the Confederate treasury, which are rumored to be hidden in the Vanderhorst home. That mystery is tangled up with several others, and Melanie and Jack end up trying to get to the bottom of them, though they are in significant danger from both live and spiritual forces.

I finished this book while camping on a gorgeous, crisp fall day next to a campfire, and it was the perfect spooky accompaniment! This was the first Karen White novel I have read, though I know she is popular among some of my book blogger friends. It exceeded my expectations, with in-depth characters I cared about, several twisty historic mysteries all wound together, and of course, appearances of both kind and evil spirits. One ghost resident in the house is trying to help Melanie, while another clearly wants to keep her from solving the mysteries and even harm her. It all adds up to wonderful suspense, paired with witty dialogue and plenty of atmosphere from the Charleston setting. I very much enjoyed my first visit to Tradd Street and look forward to another (there are now seven books in the series).

329 pages, Berkley

Penguin Audio

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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, from the start of the novel, as Melanie gets her first glimpse of the house on Tradd Street, and/or download it from Audible.


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