Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Released: January 8, 2012
Source: Interlibrary Loan
Rating: ★★★½

When Mark Spencer and his family moved into the beautiful old Allen House in Monticello, Arkansas, they were aware of its notorious reputation for being haunted. According to local lore, the troubled spirit of society belle Ladell Allen, who had mysteriously committed suicide in the master bedroom in 1948, still roamed the grand historic mansion. Yet, Mark remained skeptical—until he and his family began encountering faceless phantoms, a doppelganger spirit, and other paranormal phenomena. Ensuing ghost investigations offered convincing evidence that six spirits, including Ladell, inhabited their home. But the most shocking event occurred the day Mark followed a strange urge to explore the attic and found, crammed under a floorboard, secret love letters that touchingly depict Ladell Allen’s forbidden, heart-searing romance—and shed light on her tragic end.

I love Arkansas, and I love ghost stories, so when I saw this book I just had to read it. (Bear in mind that this is nonfiction!) The author, Mark Spencer, and his wife Rebecca bought the infamous Allen House in Monticello, Arkansas, knowing that it was rumored to be haunted. Mark, especially, never believed the rumors until they had lived there for a year, and he couldn’t come up with reasonable explanations for the many odd occurrences in the house.

The book covers the Spencer family’s paranormal experiences while living in Allen House, and it also gives an intriguing history of the property and its first residents. The author’s account was straightforward, and I wouldn’t say the book was scary, but a few of the ghostly happenings he described gave me chills. For example, he and his wife would see their son Jacob playing downstairs, when actually he was upstairs in his room. Mind you, Jacob is very much alive, but paranormal investigators explained that the spirits were channeling his energy so they looked like him. Creepy.

At the heart of the book is the mysterious suicide of Ladell Allen in 1948, and the secret love letters to Ladell that the author found in the attic. I enjoy reading vintage correspondence (especially love notes!), though I can’t say the Allen House letters were too exciting. I suppose they did suggest a reason to why she ended it all, but they weren’t as riveting as I’d hoped.

A HAUNTED LOVE STORY is the first “true haunting” book I’ve read, and it has made me curious about others in this genre. If I’m ever as far south as Monticello, I will definitely swing by and take a peek at the spooky Allen House. Apparently the Spencer family still lives there – they’re braver than I am!