Saturday, July 21, 2012

The House on Tradd Street

The House on Tradd Street
By Karen White 

I'm woefully behind on book reviews. Even though I've been spending a lot of time reading about Mozambique and studying Portuguese in a vain attempt to master some of the language before we go, I'm still managing to find time to read.

I am not, however, finding much time to review what I read!

The House on Tradd Street was our book club book for June. (We just had our July book discussion, which shows just how far behind I am.) I procrastinated for a while on starting the book, because I knew it was a ghost story. Sometimes I handle ghost stories well, but recently my tolerance for anything remotely creepy or stressful has been quite low.

Anyway, when I did start reading, I managed to finish pretty quickly. I was drawn right in! This is a story set in South Carolina about a realtor named Melanie who can see and talk to ghosts. Because of this, she abhors old houses, which are ripe with restless spirits. However, she inherits an old house from a man she's met once. She and her friend Jack are drawn (willingly or not) into solving the mystery of the malevolent spirit and the woman pushing a swing, day and night, in the garden.

I've never been to South Carolina, but even now, a month after reading the book, I can conjure up vivid pictures of restored mansions and their white picket fences. I was incredibly impressed with the way Karen White was able to describe her setting and characters in ways that made them all feel very, very real. The main character, Melanie, reminded me very much of a woman who comes into the library where I work occasionally. The first time I saw this woman after I was finished reading the book, I was tempted to ask her about her ghost-hunting! Karen White also did an excellent job of introducing me to architecture and restoration techniques without bogging me down. Kudos to her! Erik Larson's descriptions of architecture did not capture my attention in the same way. Stay tuned for my review of The Devil in the White City.)

Over all, an engaging read. Some of the ghost run-ins were a little hokey (but not too bad). I was a little disappointed that White's editor didn't catch that the May Clinic is in Rochester, Minnesota, instead of Rochester, New York. But I'm full of grace. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel!

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