Friday, February 3, 2023

Karen White - The Strangers on Montagu Street

With her relationship with writer Jack Treholm as shaky as the foundation of her family home, Melanie’s juggling a number of problems. Like restoring her Tradd Street house...and resisting her mother’s pressure to ‘go public’ with her talent—a sixth sense that unites them to the lost souls of the dead. But Melanie never anticipated her new problem.
Her name is Nola, Jack’s estranged young daughter who appears on their doorstep, damaged, lonely and defiantly immune to her father’s attempts to reconnect. Melanie understands the emotional chasm all too well. As a special, bonding gift Jack’s mother buys Nola an antique dollhouse—a precious tableaux of a perfect Victorian family. Melanie hopes the gift will help thaw Nola’s reserve and draw her into the family she’s never known.
At first, Nola is charmed, and Melanie is delighted—until night falls, and the most unnerving shadows are cast within its miniature rooms. By the time Melanie senses a malevolent presence she fears it may already be too late. A new family has accepted her unwitting invitation to move in—with their own secrets, their own personal demons, and a past that’s drawing Nola into their own inescapable darkness...

Comment: This is the third installment in the Tradd street series by Karen White and I loved it!

Melanie is at a sort of comfortable place right now, she has a restored relationship with her mother, her father seems to be on a steady road too, her house is being dealt with despite some not surprising setbacks but now her life is about to change again because Jack asks her to help with his recently found daughter. Nola is a teenager with issues, as expected, but she doesn't mind staying with Melanie - and then with her mother when house renovations need to happen - because she is still trying to cope. Everything gets even more complicated when Amelia, Nola's grandmother, offers her a dollhouse and after a while, Melanie picks up on the weird behavior of the figurines of the dollhouse, which clearly means spirits are on the loose again. 
But Melanie's fortieth birthday approaches and this can be quite a mark for her... will she have time to think about what it truly means when she has to, once again, deal with angry and whimsical ghosts?

Since the first book that the tone and writing of the author captivated me. If there is one thing I can say is that I love to spend time with the characters, even though, in terms of plot, there isn't that much going on. The series is very focused on Melanie as protagonist, but also in her interactions with the others and her ability to see and speak to ghosts. It's not an action packed story line, although a few scenes can be seen as more energetic, but I had a great time reading about them and imagining them going about their lives.

I think the story might be a bit too slow for some readers, and not all elements always seem to go any direct path, but I really liked the time it takes to savor knowing what the characters think, how they develop their relationships and the ghosts as well as Melanie's abilities (and of others) add a very interesting layer to what would probably be too mild. As it happened with the other books, there is a ghost to help move on, and that means learning about them and why they might have stayed. I actually felt sad over what we learn about the ghosts Melanie helps in this book, I think the story was quite emotional.

Of course, as Melanie and the others face these issues, their lives carry on and I must say I really love Melanie's personality, her adoration for doughnuts and her notion that time isn't stopping and she rather have small things than be disappointed again in life. I do like how she slowly welcomed her mother back, how they aren't a perfect combo and she still debates on her mother's advice regarding her ability to see the ghosts and stuff, how she ponders what this could mean for a career she worked so much for but deep down I think Melanie is cautious because she feels she might loose more than she gains.

For the reader, this can sound a bit irritating because we see Melanie has a wonderful support system and a cast of people who help her and who love her so her fears aren't that realistic but it's always easier to see it from the distance than to accept that ourselves. Melanie does feel like being too serious most time but I kind of identify with her... I think I'd probably be quite alike if my life were to be like hers, personality wise, and probably that helps me to simply enjoy reading these books more.

I did like the introduction of Nola, a new character who immediately changed a bit the dynamics between some characters and I liked how Melanie was so helpful and tried to make Nola see how Jack wasn't aware of her existence and that they should get to know one another before being best buddies. Nola's mother died which means it's one more ghost for Melanie to deal with but this time, the ghost wants to protect Nola, like a guardian angel, and her presence does add to the sub plots ongoing, as well as being handy accessory of sorts in a key situation when Melanie is in danger.

The romance is obviously very slow paced but I'm happy to say Jack and Melanie did talk at last, and their relationship took quite a huge step in the right direction. Things aren't fixed between them yet but I'm confident their HEA will be even sweeter because of the little things in their way still.
The ghosts are helped as they need, there are some sad moments regarding other things too, but overall, the feeling I had when finished was positive and I'm very eager to read the rest of the series.
Grade: 9/10

No comments:

Post a Comment