The first half of _A Haunted Love Story_ relates Mark Spencer and his family's purchase of the Allen House in Monticello, Arkansas, the history behind the house (voted "most haunted in America" in one online survey conducted three years prior to this book's publication), and encounters with its spectral inhabitants. The background contained in the first 100 pages is crucial to the second half of the book, and Spencer's detailed description of these events is both compelling and intriguing. These first sections also provide a first-hand look at how investigations of otherwordly phenomena are carried out: In this case, the Louisiana Spirits organization conducted its examination of the Allen House in a thoroughly objective and systematic manner. Until modern science conclusively proves the existence of ghosts, one will be challenged to find an account more convincing than this one.
Even those who spurn "ghost stories" should be captivated by that of Ladell Allen in the second half. Her story is as poignant and universal as anything can be, and the author's strong empathy with her enhances it greatly. The way that Spencer is able to "piece together and imagine the events" of Ladell's life is probably the single most amazing thing about this amazing book. His exhaustive research into the history of the house and its former residents is well-presented without becoming ponderous, and his speculations on the motives behind the acts of Ladell, Prentiss Hemingway Savage (whose doomed love affair with Ladell almost certainly led to her suicide), various other members of the Allen family, and why many of their spirits linger on at 705 North Main Street, Monticello, Arkansas, are unusually perceptive. Virtually any reader will come away knowing more about human nature than s/he did before.
It is always necessary for writers of historical nonfiction to extrapolate details and dialogue from the more general information they have available, and where it becomes necessary for Spencer to fill in the blanks regarding how the meetings between Ladell and Prentiss might have gone, he does so both creatively and responsibly. The immediacy here is as powerful as that in the first half of the book. We have an overwhelming sense of being alongside the characters, with little need to suspend disbelief.
_A Haunted Love Story_ comes highly recommended, not only to those interested in the supernatural but to anyone with the desire to read a skillfully written and thoroughly engrossing book. If my review has held your interest this far, reading the book should prove all-the-more fulfilling. I encourage you to do so as soon as possible.