Karen White is an experienced and popular writer, and her skill shows in this first book of a new series. Mixing elements of mystery, historical houses (which happen to be haunted) and a woman with the unpredictable talent to see ghosts, the story is the delightful tale of Melanie Middleton. As a realtor with a sensible mindset, she is appalled to be the recipient of a legacy that includes a rundown house in the historical district of Charleston, South Carolina. With much reluctance, she decides to step into the responsibility of restoring the house, along with dealing with its resident ghosts, bizarre history, the housekeeper and the dog that come with the package.
White has a firm grasp on her characters, a deep and abiding love and understanding of the South, and, as she says on her website (www.karen-white.com), she... “currently live(s) in sunny Georgia with my husband and two children. When not writing, I spend my time reading, singing, scrapbooking, carpooling children and avoiding cooking.”
Part Southern Gothic, part romance, part mystery, part history, this story has something for everyone. Reading about the beautiful homes in Melanie’s neighborhood breathes life into them and encourages the reader to read on. A handsome book author with a tendency to become overly involved, Jack Trenholm, shows up and takes it upon himself to become part of the fix it crew. Melanie’s best friend, a hippie-type with leanings toward completely accurate historical restoration, and Melanie’s father, whose past alcoholic behavior has estranged him from his daughter, also pitch in to help - if it can be called help! Every step of the way, this odd set of companions in repair drag Melanie, sometimes literally kicking and screaming, into the expensive and time-consuming conservation.
The ghostly characters vary as well. A mother and child occupy the rose garden, swinging from an old tree, smiling or frowning, as the problems arise and are solved. In addition, a deeply frightening and evil-aura laden ghost has destruction on its mind. It is a delightful read, though, and whether or not the reader believes in ghosts - or knows anything about antique homes - the book will be both entertaining and educational. The history of Charleston, the resources of the Confederacy, old plantation homes and magnificent gardens all have a place in the story on Tradd Street.