It’s a strange experience to be impatient and indulge eye-rolling disbelief with a book and yet still find it page-turning compelling. It’s not often I respond this way to a novel, but I did with Karen White’s The House on Prytania, second in her Royal Street series and a spin-off from the Tradd Street series. Part of the problem was that it was second in the series and I suspect I would have enjoyed the ghostly shenanigans more if I’d read the first. But this doesn’t say much for a novel that brings on boredom and confusion in its suspense element. Insomuch as we can be oriented in this convoluted tale, here’s the blurb which makes Prytania sound more focussed than it was in my reading:
Nola Trenholm may not be psychic herself, but she’s spent enough time around people who are to know when ghosts are present, and there are definitely a few lingering spirits in her recently purchased Creole cottage in New Orleans. Something, or someone, is keeping them tethered to this world. And not all of them are benign.
But with the sudden return of Sunny Ryan, Beau Ryan’s long-lost sister, Nola has plenty to distract her from her ghostly housemates. Especially when the tempting—yet firmly unavailable—Beau, wanting to mete out justice to those he blames for Sunny’s kidnapping, asks Nola for a favor that threatens to derail her hard-won recovery and send her hurtling backward. He asks her to welcome Michael Hebert back into her life, even though Michael is the reason for Nola’s bruised heart. Beau is convinced that Michael’s powerful family was behind Sunny’s disappearance and that Michael is the key to getting information the police won’t be able to ignore—if Nola is willing to risk everything for which she’s worked so hard.
Torn between helping Beau and protecting herself, Nola doesn’t realize until it’s almost too late why the ghosts are haunting her house—a startling revelation that will throw her and Beau together to fight a common enemy. Assuming Nola can get Beau to listen to what the spirits are trying to tell him, because ignoring them could prove to be a fatal mistake…
To start, this series belongs to Tradd Street’s Melanie and Jack’s oldest daughter, Nola Holmes. Where Tradd Street was set in Charleston, Royal Street is set in New Orleans. The focus on city history through architecture is still present, but not to the same extent. I could tell because I delightedly Googled Charleston architecture countless time to my one or two Googles this time around. Still, I liked Nola’s Creole cottage renovations, her struggle to help her friend-and-maybe-more Beau and to make a life for herself on her own. I particularly loved the visit Melanie, Jack, and the twins, JJ and Sarah, paid. But what I really loved was Nola’s mouthy, brilliant, hair-spray-wielding friend and roommate, Jolene, and their adorable dog, Mardi (yes, of Mardi Gras). Jolene dresses him in a variety of themed outfits and those were the best bits of the novel…uh, doesn’t say much, does it? Yet it was charming and Jolene jumped off the page with her humour and heart.
What didn’t jump off the page? The mystery of Beau’s sister, Sunny, and the saga of her childhood kidnapping, the woo-woo ghosts inspired sniggers rather than suspense, and what has always frustrated me about White’s paranormal mysteries: how mean her heroes are. Beau, like Jack, is attracted to Nola, but doesn’t hesitate to ask her to reconnect with an old boyfriend who hurt her, to put herself in a precarious place emotionally and physically. I was caught up in the scenes they shared, but I didn’t respect myself in the morning. If you’re a White fan, like I was, thanks to Tradd Street, you’ll want to read Prytania; if this is your first White, you’ll appreciate her better if you start with Tradd Street. As for Prytania, well, Miss Austen and I have to agree it offers “tolerable comfort,” Mansfield Park.
Karen White’s The House on Prytania is published by Berkley and was released on May 9th. I received an e-ARC, from Berkley, via Netgalley. This does not impede the expression of my honest opinion.
4 thoughts on “Mini-Review: Karen White’s THE HOUSE ON PRYTANIA (Royal Street #2)”
Naming the main character Nola, in a book set in New Orleans, Louisiana, is certainly a choice!
LOL!! I don’t know, I wanted to continue to like the series…but all the niggling stuff got me and the ghost story, with all the names I couldn’t make head nor hair out of…nope!
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Welp! This is absolutely not for me.
It’s always sad when an author one likes misfires, isn’t it?
No, you really wouldn’t enjoy it…I’m sad b/c I like Tradd Street, but White is out for me.
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