The Guests on South Battery
Tradd Street #5
By Karen White
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
With her extended maternity leave at its end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she’s awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for more than a year are about to invade her life once more.
But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell hers as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission.
Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can’t deny that spirits both malevolent and benign have started to show themselves to her again. One is shrouded from sight, but appears whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in Melanie s backyard on Tradd Street. Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried…. (Goodreads)
The Guests on South Battery, the fifth book in the Tradd Street series, is predictable at best.
I have not had the opportunity to read any of the Tradd Street series until now, and though The Guests on South Battery can be read as a standalone book, I think I did myself a disservice by not reading the other installments first. The story has all of the things that I gravitate towards when choosing a book to read – a wonderful setting, a paranormal element, a little bit of romance, and a mystery to be solved. White did an adequate job of catching the reader up on the highlights of the characters that I would have learned by reading the other books, but I felt like I was missing something throughout, and thus the characters were a little flat for me. This book centers around real estate agent Melanie who is a newlywed and new mother, and she also happens to see ghosts. Back to work from maternity leave she thinks she has an easy commission coming when Jayne Smith darkens her office door. Jayne has inherited one of the most historical houses in Charleston but wants nothing to do with it. The mystery comes into play when Melanie tries to figure out why orphan Jayne inherited the house, and she senses ghosts for the first time in more than a year in the house on South Battery. But something was blocking her senses (it was far too easy to figure out what was going on). With the help of her writer husband Jack and her mother, all of the secrets were revealed.
I so wanted to enjoy The Guests on South Battery, but an annoying main character and a grossly predictable plot quickly dampened my enthusiasm. Melanie has some serious control and insecurity issues, and I think she was supposed to come across as quirky, but I found her so unlikable. Uptight is the understatement of the year. Everyone around her pretended to placate her whims and then do whatever they wanted behind her back. Though I agreed with their thinking, I found the whole situation disrespectful to Melanie and not funny. I think Jack was a good guy, but the way he handled Melanie’s supposition about a quasi-love triangle was insensitive and could have been handled so much better. Jayne’s character was appealingly mysterious in the beginning, but she, too, grew tedious.
The “mystery” was the most disappointing aspect of the book. It took too long for the ghosts in the South Battery house to really come into play, and, despite this, I figured out their identities and their story way too early in the book. I could also see Jayne’s true identity and circumstances coming from a mile away. It was all too soap opera-ish and unsatisfying. There were some secondary threads, including the cistern discovered in Melanie’s backyard and a cold case involving a classmate’s murdered sister, that were left completely open ended. Perhaps they are to be explored in a future book, but these threads were seemingly forgotten by the end of the book.
I think that The Guests on South Battery will appeal to current fans of the Tradd Street series. I do think I will go back and start at the beginning of the series and see if my opinion of Melanie and crew change.