Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review: The Guests on South Battery by Karen White

The Guests on South Battery (Tradd Street Book #5)
by Karen White
Release Date: January 10th 2017
2017 Berkley
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-0451475237
Genre: Fiction / Paranormal
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

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....

My Thoughts
The Guests on South Battery continues Jack and Melanie's story as they continue to restore their house in the famous historic district of Charleston.  One of the things I do recommend however, is that you read the other books in the series, even if the mysteries themselves are stand alones, to understand the dynamic between Jack and Melanie and the other characters in the series.  

First of all, I love Melanie as a main character even if I want to hug her and then strangle her, all within the space of minutes.  Melanie can see spirits and communicate with them and the fact she has decided to keep the historic home she has inherited is a continuing surprise to her, especially after having encountered the ghosts in her home and having vanquished the more malevolent ones.  The continuing dialogue she has with her best friend, who is also restoring her home, is quite funny and I enjoy both the verbal and mental dialogue that goes with the explanations.  Melanie borders on severe OCD and I don't know how Jack can deal with her at times as I found myself rolling my eyes quite often as she was dealing with her twins.  Anyone who has children knows that children do not go to the bathroom on schedule, and will, in fact, be the cause of more than one delayed outing due to a messy diaper.  Been there more than once!  Watching Melanie relax throughout the novel because of the entry of a more relaxed nanny was a great pleasure.  And I loved how Melanie's friends dealt with her obsessiveness, not quite confronting it, but not ignoring it either and coming up other ways of dealing with the problem.  It created some quite funny scenes that any woman could relate to and appreciate.  However, that being said, these same friends could sometimes be a bit controlling and kind of ran roughshod over Melanie a few times; now that she is married and a mother she can no longer make her own decisions and control her own life?  While Melanie could be annoying at times, I did appreciate it as a way of taking back control over her own situation, although I would have liked to have seen the old, strong Melanie back again.  And what is it with the scenes with Jack just kissing her and she forgets anything she was discussing and just accepts things as they are?  Really?  Do we have to go down that road?  I'm sure there are other ways of showing how attracted Melanie is to Jack without showing that she has no brain cells left in her head?

What I especially liked in this novel was the focus on family and dealing with issues rather than on the paranormal.  Oh, the paranormal was there, but it played more of a secondary role and I kind of liked that as so many of the issues in this one were not paranormal based.  There was a mystery, but it was sad and easy to figure out if you paid attention.  I was much more interested in the relationships, and that was easy to figure out too, it just took me a little while to figure out how and why.  But everything connected.  And if none of this makes sense, read the book because I would be spoiling it if I mentioned everything that was going on.  I definitely liked how the author handled the ghost situation as it was a bit tragic and sad and opened up a just a little can on mental health issues.  The entire mystery was a bit predictable and not up to the usual standards, but I still liked it, even if I'm not sure of the reasons behind it.  

The Guests on South Battery is a good entry into the series, but it is not my favourite one.  Although I love Melanie as a main character, I did find her to be somewhat annoying and obsessive in this one, not as strong as usual, controlled by those around her.  And even if I didn't quite agree with her decisions towards the end, I was glad to see her take control of her life again, to be the woman she was before she married and had kids.  I enjoyed the writing in this novel as always, but I did feel the mystery was a bit weak and predictable. I did love how the next book in this series was kind of interwoven into this book, and I am looking forward to the next entry.