The Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White – Book Review

The Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White
Published by NAL Trade, an imprint of Penguin

This is the third book in the Tradd Street series. I previously reviewed the first two books, The House on Tradd Street and The Girl on Legare Street.

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.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Author’s publicist.

* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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11 comments to The Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White – Book Review

  • I hate emotional manipulation in books – especially if it is so overt!

  • Arlene Grimm

    Thanks for your honest review. I read the first of this series and decided right away that it was a waste of time. I do not know if it is just me but I am finding it harder and harder to find books that tell a real story!! Right now I am reading Velva Jean Learns to Drive and so far so good. Hoping that Kathryn Stockett will come out with another book…loved The Help. And my dream is another series by JK Rowling!!

  • I have been curious about the first book in this series for a while, so I probably will still read it. It is too bad that the series might not be worth sticking with, though.

  • As I mentioned on Twitter, I actually loved this book. It’s an obvious transition book, intended to move the characters to a different level in preparation for the conclusion of the series (the next book.) I still think the series is definitely worth reading, this book as well for, if anything, to see a shift in the character’s roles.

  • Oh no! I have really enjoyed the first two books in this series, and so was quite excited at the prospect of reading this one! I just picked it up from the library so will get to it soon.

  • Totally agree with your take on the waffling love life/donut eating heroine! Been done to death!

    The first couple books of this series sound interesting, I’ll check for them at the library. Thanks for the warning on the 3rd.

  • Meg

    Oh, I’m sorry to hear this one doesn’t give any further resolution to the series. I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, but I agree that the push/pull of the sort-of-relationship between Melanie and Jack would be getting old.

  • Bummer! I was looking forward to this one. Guess I’ll wait ’til it’s a quarter at next year’s library book sale.

  • I gave up after the first book.

  • Irene Stearns

    Bummer ending!!! Are you writing a sequel to this? If so let me know the name. This is the only book I’ve read written by you but if they all end like this one forget it!!!