In the third of White’s series starring psychic Realtor Melanie “Mellie” Middleton, Mellie copes with the warring ghostly denizens of another Charleston historic home.
Any jokes about her failure to predict the housing bubble aside, Mellie’s clairvoyance is more the “Sixth Sense” variety: The dead people she sees are not just any dearly departed. The spirits she wrangles are an occupational hazard of owning “This Old House.” As her 40th birthday approaches, Mellie’s on-again, off-again flirtation with heartthrob Jack is off: he’s dating her cousin, pretty-in-pink Rebecca. Mellie’s mother and father, for decades estranged from her and each other, are back in her life, and she and her opera diva mother share ghost-hunting duty. Jack learns he has a 13-year-old daughter, Nola, when the teen lands on his doorstep. Since her mother, singer-songwriter Bonnie (a drug addict who committed suicide), told her that Jack deserted the two of them, Nola doesn’t trust her father. (Indeed, his personality is so volatile that readers will wonder why anyone, including Mellie, would.) Nola finds shelter with Mellie, who notices Bonnie hovering nearby. As Mellie tries unsuccessfully to nudge Bonnie toward the light, poltergeists attack the antique dollhouse in Nola’s bedroom. And no wonder: The dollhouse is a replica of a decaying mansion on Montagu Street inhabited by the last of the prominent Manigault family, Miss Julia, an ancient piano teacher. Mellie convinces Nola to take music lessons from Julia, and Julia asks Mellie to contact her brother William, who has been dead since 1938, the year that Julia’s fiancé Jonathan also died, followed shortly by her parents, Harold and Anne. Ever since, Julia and her house have been haunted by the contentious ghosts of William and Harold. Although her visions of hollow-eyed Harold convince her he’s evil, Mellie suspects that Julia herself is no angel, and that merely helping William and Harold to “move on” will not lift the Manigault curse.
Additional ghost-sightings would be vastly more entertaining than the tepid romance subplot.