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Source: Review copy from NAL
Rating: ★★★★☆

Please note: This review is for the 5th book in the Tradd Street series. There are no spoilers for this book, but there might be spoilers from the previous four installments.

The Guests on South Battery is the fifth book in Karen White’s Tradd Street series, one of the few series that I believe continues to get better and better as the main characters evolve and new characters enter their lives. Centered on psychic Realtor Melanie Middleton, now married to Jack Trenholm with 10-month-old twins, the novel begins as Melanie prepares to go back to work for the first time since the babies were born.

As she laments losing some clients in her specialty area of historic homes, she meets Jayne Smith, who recently inherited a home belonging to a childhood friend of Melanie’s mother. Jayne is a shy, skittish young woman, and she wants nothing more than to sell the home as fast as possible. Having grown up in the foster care system, no one is quite sure why the home was left to her in the first place, but knowing from personal experience the troubles that accompany historic homes, Melanie has no qualms about helping Jayne sell. However, she wants her to see the home before making any snap decisions, and on the first tour of the property, Melanie knows something isn’t quite right. Her “gift” of seeing spirits is slowly coming back to her after having the twins, and she senses an evil spirit in the house.

Being new to Charleston, the whole process of renovating and selling a historic home is a bit overwhelming, and Jayne has no job or home. This, coupled with her experience with children and glowing references, works out perfectly for Melanie, who is in desperate need of a nanny, especially since Jack is trying to work on a new book, dealing with the fallout from a previous failed book deal, and playing stay-at-home dad all at the same time. In Jayne, Melanie finds a lifesaver, but Jayne’s youth and beauty, coupled with Melanie’s insecurities about her post-pregnancy body, make Melanie concerned about her marriage. Meanwhile, Melanie also must deal with a cistern discovered in the backyard of her Tradd Street home, weird phone calls in the night, and her mother’s desire to use their psychic abilities to help solve a cold case, as well as navigate her mother’s difficult past and what it means for her own future.

There was a lot going on in The Guests on South Battery, but none of it is confusing or overwhelming. White paces the novel perfectly, and Melanie’s first person narrative is always entertaining. It was nice to see Melanie coming into her own as a wife and a mother, juggling the various tasks that those roles and a full-time job entail, and realizing that she can no longer control and schedule literally every aspect or detail of her children’s lives. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and recognize that you can’t do it all, and perfectly at that.

As always, White does a great job making the ghostly aspects of the story seem believable and adding a bit of creepiness to balance out Melanie’s humorous antics. It also was nice to see more of Melanie’s best friend, Sophie, an historic homes expert who is in charge of the South Battery renovation, and Jayne was an interesting character to try to figure out. Despite piecing together the big twist before it was revealed, I loved the story, and I can’t wait for the next installment, The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street, which will be released in October.

Other reviews:

The House on Tradd Street

The Girl on Legare Street

The Strangers on Montagu Street

Return to Tradd Street

Disclosure: I received The Guests on South Battery from NAL for review.

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