November 14, 2008

The House on Tradd Street

Book Cover

By Karen White

While I haven't reviewed much literary fiction on this blog, I do enjoy it. On the other hand, I think it's something of an artificial category. The title and faux-impressionist cover speak of the setting but conceal the contents. At least the blurb is honest; otherwise people might be quite surprised to find themselves reading a ghost story with strong romance and mystery elements.

The eponymous house on Tradd Street is Melanie Middleton's unexpected inheritance. She grew up in Charleston and appreciates the history, but she doesn't appreciate the upkeep old houses require nor that her mother sold their house when it was supposed to become Melanie's. Though Melanie has become a realtor specializing in historical homes, she lives in an ultra modern apartment. But now Nevin Vanderhorst has died and left his home to Melanie with several strings attached. To her the most bothersome is having to live in the house.

Mr. Vanderhorst's mother left the family with Joseph Longo when he was a child, a strangely out-of-character move. Melanie inherited the ability to see ghosts from her mother and now she can see both Louisa Vanderhorst and a more malevolent, unknown male presence. However, Melanie wants to keep her nose out of the mystery. On the other hand, handsome, younger author Jack Trenholm is all too interested in the mystery. Joseph's descendant Marc Longo also approaches her to purchase the house.

In addition to suddenly gaining a social life, Melanie's parents are re-entering her life. Her former alcoholic father has been given control of the finances to restore the house and her runaway mother is calling. To survive her childhood Melanie became a very anal and controlled woman. The ghosts, suitors, and reemerging family ties through her off-balance and force her to own up to parts of herself she prefers to ignore.

There's quite a bit going on in THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET and Karen White manages well. She rotates between focusing on the family, mystery, or romantic aspect often enough that you don't forget one plot thread is happening but not so often that the story loses its flow. The characters get less equal attention. Melanie is very well-developed and Jack has interesting dimensions. Marc, the final point of the triangle, is fairly one-note. Sophie and Chad, two supporting characters who appear frequently, are entertaining but rarely escape being stereotypical modern hippies. While I liked all of the characters, in the end I felt like I only had a grasp on Melanie.

Karen White can be found at her website. You can also learn more from my interview with her. The sequel to THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET, titled THE GIRL ON LEGARE STREET, will be published November 2009. I intend to pick it up.

My review copy was received through PUMP UP YOUR BOOK PROMOTION.
PUYBP

8 comments:

  1. This sounds like such an interesting book. Thanks for the great review - it's now at the top of my tbr list.

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  2. Nice review. I loved this book! You can check out my review here:

    http://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/2008/09/house-on-tradd-street-by-karen-white.html

    Thanks for hosting Karen.

    Cheryl

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  3. Great review...is this YA or no?

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  4. It's not YA; it's all about adults. However, there's I see no reason teens wouldn't like it. (For the younger teens who are looking for more adult themes, there's not really any sex or language, which is nice.)

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  5. Sounds like a nice story. =) I have a couple of ghost stories on the shelf I still need to read.

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  6. I loved this book because it was a mixture of romance, ghost story, and mystery. Melanie is the main character and I believe this is just the beginning for some of these characters...Karen has a sequel coming out in nov. 2009.

    check out my review here:
    http://savvyverseandwit.blogspot.com/2008/11/house-on-tradd-street-by-karen-white.html

    Karen's guest post here:
    http://savvyverseandwit.blogspot.com/2008/11/karen-white-and-writing-and-publishing.html

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  7. This looks like exactly what I want to read as the nights get long and chilly! A little bit ghosty for a cold night!

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  8. i've heard a bit about this. it sounds interesting. i like the idea of her seeing ghosts for sure!

    -lauren

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