Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Series Review: The Tradd Street series by Karen White

Side note: I adore these covers

Own #1, Library #2-4
5 out of 5 stars
Special Shelf

I already reviewed the first book and sort of the second, but I ended up adoring this series so much that I really need to gush a little more. The Tradd Street series is, hands down, one of my top favorite series of all time.

Best book friend, EVER

I'll admit, I was a little nervous going into it all. I'm a character girl, and for a long time I wasn't really sure I could warm up to main character Mellie. I mean, she scorned the fully furnished historical house she inherited!? She even scorned the little dog she inherited!

Dogs and historical houses are two things that are near and dear to my heart, so I wasn't convinced I could get behind a main character who didn't appreciate those things.

But, I stuck with it because I sensed there was more to Mellie than her outward prickliness and scorn (anyone who makes organizational spreadsheets wins points with me. Even just saying "organizational spreadsheet" makes me sigh in contentment).

Thankfully I was right and there is FAR more to Mellie than meets the eye. She has reasons for acting the way she does, and I can totally empathize. The more I learned, the more I realized that all those things I thought I wouldn't like about her were actually things that made me like and relate to her more than ever.

Also, I had pretty much fallen in love with every other aspect of the book so I decided to stick with it. It turns out this was the best decision I ever made, because Mellie is a total kindred spirit, bosom friend type of character and she gets ALL my sleepover party invites (she's like the best friend who gets to come early before everyone else arrives and stay later after everyone else has left).

After my initial hesitations, Mellie reminded me a lot of myself and so I really connected with her above and beyond other characters.

Historical mysteries are the BEST mysteries
(also, inheriting old houses with lots and lots of expensive old stuff)

And what about all those other things I loved? First off, there's the historical house, or, really, houses because the series deals with several. Each has its own mystery, ghosts, antiques, and totally absorbing and completely satisfying historical reveal. Plus, I just love "living" in historical houses like this (secret rooms? Back stairways? Antique furniture with History? YES PLEASE!)

Another note on those mysteries? Usually I'll read a book and if the characters are great then I don't care if the mystery is only so-so. Rarely is the mystery as good as the characterization, but Karen White's Tradd Street mysteries stand on their own as worth it.

Think Rebecca or The Thirteenth Tale where the reveal is just as satisfying and unexpected as the journey. LOVED the mysteries! I loved the way the clues with doled out so I could sleuth along with Mellie and Jack but never actually guess the full details. I loved the way the ghosts were scary and sympathetic. I loved the way the final pieces of the mysteries clicked together at the end in that totally satisfying "Ahhh ha!" way like triumphantly putting in the final piece of a puzzle.

I especially liked the mystery in the second book. And the fourth. And of course the first. And the third was really good, too. So, yeah.

Side characters and everything cozy

Reading these books was like wrapping myself in my favorite cozy sweater with a box of chocolates and an unending supply of hugs and comfort. None of the characters are perfect people. They have flaws and vices but their imperfections make them lovable. Ultimately, they're there for each other in ways that made me feel so happy and loved.

There was even this character introduced in the third book that, when she appeared at the end of book 2 I groaned out loud and actually considered leaving books 3 and 4 unread to preserve my happy memories. That's how bad I thought this character was going to be.

So, I am absolutely shocked at how well Karen White made it work. She turned this stereotypically book-killing character into someone I actually loved. I couldn't imagine the series without her and I am so, so, so happy she is there. 

Karen White was also spot on with the Southern setting. Everything rang true and Charleston (both the city and the people) came alive for me.

And, of course, the romance

Talk about your slow burn! This is a total hate-turned-love romance and it takes several books to fully develop and all four to finally, finally come to that satisfying conclusion.

Unlike Mellie, I fell in love with Jack the moment I met him (or, I should say, I admitted to myself that I loved him). Like Mellie, though, I fell more in love with him with every page.

Jack is a funny guy who totally gets Mellie and loves needling her. He teases her quirks in a way that he's totally ripping on her, but you know he also completely loves those things about her. He respects her, but he is also constantly pushing her to break out of her comfort zone and reach for the things she wants but is too afraid to grab. He's completely protective, but he also empowers her.

Ultimately, yes, I love Jack because he's a great character who is great for Mellie. But, really, I love him because in his relationship with Mellie, he is very much like my husband.

Bottom line

I think these books have a ton of merit and will appeal to readers looking for solid ghostly mysteries and feel-good relationships. They stand well and each book is a solid addition to the series (no fillers here!).

For me, they earned an extra special place in my reader heart because the characters resonated so completely with me on a very personal level.

I ached when I finished the series and had no more Tradd Street books to read. There is still a reading void and I am desperate to fill it (so if you know any books that fit the bill, PLEASE let me know!).

Thankfully, the series ended perfectly well with the conclusion of book four and I honestly couldn't ask for a better ending. So if you're looking to start the series but don't like being left dangling in the middle of a story, I'd say go for it.

But, because I'm a greedy reader with a hole in my reading heart, I am so incredibly happy that Karen White will be writing three more books in the series!!

That are coming out starting 2016.

*sigh* This waiting is going to be hard.


Like this book? You might also like:

Click on the covers to go to my reviews


  1. I absolutely all the read alike books you mentioned in this post so that's a huge hint that I need to pick up this series. I have seen this author's name before but haven't read any of her books. Looks like I need to correct that soon!

    1. Yes! I hope you do get to pick it up soon. Melanie takes a little getting used to, but it's worth sticking with her. I hope you like it!

  2. This series sounds like one I can't miss out on for too much longer! I've added the first book to my wish list. Thanks for sharing such an in depth review! It really sold me on the books.

    I am so glad she is writing three more books to help with your void. It's awesome when you think you're at the end of the road and the author swoops back in to save the day!

    1. aaah I LOVE the way you described authors swooping in and saving the day. SO true! I hope you get to read the series soon and enjoy it as much as I do :)


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