Never fear- there are no spoilers here!
The House on Tradd Street by Karen White follows protagonist Melanie as she unexpectedly inherits an old house in a classic Charleston neighborhood, and all the crazy renovations that come with it. Unfortunately for me, I thought that was the whole description. But White had a surprise in store for me- an entire portion of the plot involves Melanie’s ability to see the dearly departed (don’t worry, if you read the book jacket description, this plot point is mentioned, so it is not a spoiler!)
I love books about houses and renovations as the setting for a character driven plot, so when this one was recommended I added it to my list, put it on my library holds, and promptly forgot what it was about. Fast forward a few months when it became available, and I jumped in without reading the description again. After all, I added it to my Want to Read list on Goodreads, which is how I keep track of what I want to read. If you haven’t read the book description on Goodreads, don’t. It gives away a plot point that doesn’t come up until you’re about 40% through the book.
I am not one for spooky stories. I’ve read Karen White before, and while she can build suspense, I wouldn’t label the books scary. This one was a whole new world for me. With a lot of spooky elements, and with me being a big sissy, I had to limit myself to reading during the daytime. There are some pretty frightening scenes, but the overall story arch and great character development kept me reading, despite my scaredy cat nature.
While I was wrong about it being a character driven plot set into a house as a setting, the characters are still phenomenal. Well-developed, with individual motivations and secrets, this cast is interesting and it was fun to get to know them. While White has a tendency to repeat some of the same seemingly irrelevant details, it’s a small flaw in an overall well done novel.
I enjoyed the descriptions of Charleston, as I’ve never been. The scenes are really well set, whether you’ve experienced the locations or not. Being a house nut, I would’ve liked more in-depth descriptions on the renovations. As the plot mainly centered around a mystery from the 1930s, the home renovations took a backseat. The house felt like a character unto itself, but once the renovations began the visual descriptions slacked off.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read and White builds suspense well in a cast of intriguing characters. This would be a perfect October read to prepare the mental mood for Halloween, but is still enjoyable year round- especially if you like ghost stories.