The Strangers on Montagu Street

by Karen White

Psychic realtor Melanie Middleton is still restoring her Charleston house and doesn’t expect to have a new houseguest, a teen girl named Nola. But the girl didn’t come alone, and the spirits that accompanied Nola don’t seem willing to leave…( nicked from Goodreads)

I have four words to say about the ghostly aspect of this book. 

Dollhouses creep me out. 

They creep me out more than empty rocking chairs, more than creepy old dolls, more than clowns and even more than those shaggy old monkeys with cymbals attached to their hands that play for no reason at all

*shudders*

From the moment Nola, Jack’s estranged daughter, laid eyes on the dollhouse in Jack’s mom’s antique shop, I knew I was in for several nights sleeping with the lights on. As usual, Karen White gives us a super scary ghost story (complete with a ghost dog!) while weaving it into a more gentle one involving Nola’s recently deceased mother. 

We get a gift in this book – we get to go a little deeper in the characters. Up to now, we’ve only seen the talented, smug, sexy side of Jack who would love nothing more than to have Melanie put her trust issues behind her and give him a second glance. This book introduces us to the parental side of Jack – the Jack who stumbles and bumbles his way through attempting to parent a teenager (a teenager, no less! Karen’s not easy on this guy at all!). There’s a lovely side of Melanie we get to see also. 

Nola is a refreshing, funny, witty, sarcastic teenager who’s hanging on to life by a thread. I fell completely in love with her. As a mom of girls (both adults now), I wanted nothing more than to reach into the book, grab Nola and hug her under all the bad things in her life disappeared. I felt her distrust,  her every disappointment but most of all, I felt her complete love for her mother. I hoped the relationship between her and Melanie would give the latter some insight into her relationship with her mother but that inched along as the story progressed. 

What I did like to see if for once, we got to see Melanie lay down a bit of her OCD-ness and search inside for some real wisdom in dealing with Nola. Nola, unable to live peacefully with her dad, moves in for some much needed perspective and space while she heals. And yet, while Melanie is so capable of being so wise where Nola is concerned, I’m still left wondering why she fails to apply any wisdom to her own life. 

Still on rocky ground with her daughter, Ginnette makes a reappearance as does Melanie’s dad. There’s a super sweet reconnecting of these two characters in a “love never dies” type of way. It’s warm and heartfelt, even though I find myself wanting to kick Melanie’s dad for STILL failing to acknowledge the abilities of his ex-wife and daughter. 

Melanie finding out she’s pregnant is just rewards for trying so hard to retain any control over her rapidly fraying life. There’s nothing like a baby to shake one up and make one realize that little is within our control. 

My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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