The Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White
Published by NAL Trade, an imprint of Penguin
As Melanie continues renovations on her historic Tradd Street house, she finds herself confronted with yet another disturbing being. This time, though, the creature is not a ghost, but the thirteen-year-old daughter that Jack never knew he had. Newly motherless, Jack’s daughter Nola is going through a difficult time – one that is not helped when the dollhouse her grandmother buys her turns out to be haunted by malevolent spirits. Now Melanie and Jack have a new mystery to solve – if they can keep from either killing or jumping one another.
It has been two years since I read the first two books in this series, but I have fond enough memories of them that I jumped at the chance to review this book when it was offered to me. Looking back at my reviews, those memories don’t’ seem to have been distorted, I liked The House on Tradd Street fairly well, and really enjoyed The Girl on Legare Street. The Strangers on Montagu Street, however, is a huge disappointment.
I am no longer amused with the flirty will-they-won’t-they relationship between Jack and Melanie, at this point Melanie seems like more of an emotionally stunted thirteen-year-old than Nola does. I’m also sort of sick of the fakey-fake “I pretty much only eat donuts, but I’m so skinny!” characters, of which Melanie is a prime example. This sort of description adds nothing to the actual development of the character, and it is just eye-roll-inducing.
Perhaps if the ghost plot line had been novel or surprising in some way, The Strangers on Montagu Street might have been saved. Alas, the secret being hidden is obvious from half the book away, and Melanie (and Nola)’s experiences with the ghosts have much less emotional impact than in the other books. Although there was a ghost terrorizing Nola, Melanie seems too distracted to do much more than mention it as an aside, which does not help the reader buy into the fear and tension.
I think the last straw, though, is that it actually ended with a “to be continued.” This is obviously a series, and the ending very obviously leaves loose threads, there is no need to spell out the cliffhanger so bluntly. It smacked of emotional manipulation, and made me loathe to go any farther in the series.
If you want to read Karen White, pick up one of her standalone novels, or stop with the Tradd Street series after The Girl on Legare Street, you won’t miss much.
Source: Author’s publicist.
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