fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsHome for the Haunting by Juliet Blackwell fantasy book reviewsHome for the Haunting by Juliet Blackwell

Home for the Haunting is the fourth book in Juliet Blackwell’s HAUNTED HOME RENOVATION series. Each of these book is a short cozy paranormal mystery. Each story is self-contained, so the books can stand alone, but there’s an overarching plot involving Mel Turner’s personal relationships and each installment adds new characters, so most readers would probably prefer to start at the beginning and read the novels in order. The first three are If Walls Could Talk, Dead Bolt, and Murder on the House. After the fourth book, Home of the Haunting, comes Keeper of the Castle and the sixth book, Give Up the Ghost, will appear on shelves early next month.

At this point in the series, Mel Turner has become a bit famous in San Francisco — not just as an excellent general contractor, but also as someone who can sense the spirits that remain in the historical homes she remodels. Fortunately, though every house we’ve seen her work on has been the scene of a murder, nobody seems to suspect Mel of being anything but nosey.

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This time, Mel is heading up a team of volunteers who are building a wheelchair ramp for the old home of a man who’s handicapped. While on site she becomes distracted and obsessed by the ghostly apparitions she notices in the window of the house next door — the house that the neighborhood kids call “The Murder House.” When one of Mel’s crew discovers a dead body in a shed, Mel is back on the trail of another murderer and another haunted house mystery.

Fans of the previous books in the series will almost surely enjoy Home for the Haunting since it pretty much delivers exactly what’s expected. The murder mystery isn’t particularly exciting or tight, but all of the usual elements are present. It’s fun to watch Mel and her friends renovate homes in the San Francisco area. I enjoy learning about the period architecture and design as well as learning some of the history of a city I hope to visit someday. It’s also nice just to hang around with Mel, her doting conservative father, her ex-stepson, her sociologist friend, and the various handsome men she knows. In this volume, Mel’s sister Cookie shows up and adds some levity.

Readers who love this series will also enjoy Juliet Blackwell’s WITCHCRAFT MYSTERIES. The two series are remarkably similar with the same sorts of characters, tone, and plots. The audio versions of both are produced by Tantor Audio and are read by the brilliant Xe Sands.

Published in 2013. San Francisco contractor Mel Turner is leading a volunteer home renovation project, and while she expects lots of questions from her inexperienced crew, she can’t help asking a few of her own—especially about the haunted house next door . . . the place local kids call the Murder House. But when volunteers discover a body while cleaning out a shed, questions pile up faster than discarded lumber. Mel notices signs of ghostly activity next door and she wonders: Are the Murder House ghosts reaching out to her for help, or has the house claimed another victim? Now, surprised to find herself as the SFPD’s unofficial “ghost consultant,” Mel must investigate murders both past and present before a spooky killer finishes another job.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.