The Ghost of Mackey House


Not for me 😔

A muddled haunted house story that is extremely character-driven, but does not have enough atmosphere.

I started The Ghost of Mackey House thinking this story was going to center around this B&B, Mackey House, and the ghost that was in it, with the history surrounding it as its dark and mysterious backdrop. Unfortunately, for me personally, this was not the case.

Books with a haunted house are usually very heavy with atmosphere. The Ghost of Mackey House feels like it has very little atmosphere, likely because the story is so character-driven. The characters spend so little time actually experiencing Mackey House that the haunting atmosphere just isn't there. I like in-depth characters a lot, but not when the integrity of the plot is put aside for character exposition and backstory. This sort of exposition takes up most of the book - we don't get much of the ghostly atmosphere and plotline until two-thirds into the story, and so I was very uninvested for that much of the book.

I won't get too into the characters themselves - overall, they weren't bad, and I think if I was more prepared for an almost entirely character-based story, I would have enjoyed it more. I do wish, however, that I was able to empathize with the characters more. I think if they were written in such a way that I truly felt for them, they could have been excellent characters.

I don't think this book needed to be as long as it was. I think a lot of the story relied on characters' backstories to fill the wordcount, and thus made the story feel slightly incoherent and muddled. I think this book could have been great if it was shorter, almost a novella, and if it took place more inside the titular Mackey House. However, I do think the story, as written, could make a very cool videogame. In terms of the characters and the history, it really reminded me of games like Silent Hill or Resident Evil (if you were to make it more horror-based).

While The Ghost of Mackey House was not for me, I do want to end this review with some positives. When the story does pick up, in the later half of the book, the plot was a lot more compelling and I became really eager to find out what happened in the end. And, if you are someone who likes more character-focused storytelling, I will say the background characters are very fun, and I would read the book again just for them.

Reviewed by

I am a classicist who specializes in ancient language and poetry, as well as an author and part-time book reviewer. Currently, my favorites to review are ghost stories. Anything with haunted houses is my cup of tea. Originally from Los Angeles, CA I now live in the cold winters of Canada.

Saturday, Late September

About the author

R.A. (Rob) Johnson is a software engineer and life-long writer. Throughout his forty-year career, he has written technical articles, whitepapers, research papers, three novels, and numerous pieces of short/flash fiction. The Ghost of Mackey House is his latest novel. view profile

Published on November 01, 2021

70000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Horror

Reviewed by