Book Review: “The Ghost of Arlen Hall” by Tammie Painter

A classic ghost tale in the Gothic tradition. The protagonist becomes obsessed with the romantic legend of a ghost said to haunt Arlen Hall, and will stop at nothing to meet the specter face-to-face. But, as the cover says, be careful what you wish for…

Speaking of covers, I know we’re not supposed to judge books by them, but simply considered as a standalone artwork, is not that cover perfect? It’s practically a story in itself.

This is a super-short book; easy to read in one sitting, but it’s still highly enjoyable all the same, and a good introduction to Painter’s dark, often ironic sense of humor. Just don’t expect a sprawling novel; this is a more of a quick sketch.

As I write this review, there’s a debate raging on Twitter about whether a traditional mystery story can have supernatural elements. (The word “traditional” is doing a lot of work in that sentence.) This book is a good example of how a story can include the supernatural, yet still be resolved in a logical and consistent manner.

My suggestion is to pick this one up along with some other short Halloween stories, and read all of them on one of these dark October evenings, when the wind is howling and the leaves are rustling, and the rain is lashing at the windows, and there are strange lights in the mist but you can’t remember the neighbors putting out any decorations yet…


  1. Thanks for the review, Berthold! As for the cover, I have to admit to feeling a huge “I won the Internet” moment when I found that image…especially after applying a few cropping and filter tricks : )

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