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Charybdis by Suzanne Craig-Whytock

A spellbinding Gothic tale of two women from different centuries, Charybdis will keep you glued to the pages. This well-written story of lives that intertwine the past and present has everything you want for a late-night read – ghosts, horror, and edge-of-your-seat suspense.

Told from two points of view and two time periods, Charybdis follows Greta, a literature student researching a late 19th century poet, and Louisa Duberger, the woman who wrote two very different books of verse. The alternating points of view not only give the reader insight into the dead poet’s life, but also add suspense as the reader is left with questions at the end of each chapter.

The book begins with Greta Randall rethinking both her personal and academic future. Greta’s visit to an antique market three years ago was a major turning point in her life. On that fateful day, she met her future fiance, the owner’s son, and found a rare collection of poetry by a Canadian poet who became a recluse. 

Greta plans to compare the collection she found, a series of bright nature poetry, to a later book, a dark and disturbing body of work. She hopes to write her PhD thesis about Louisa and discuss the reason for the change in mood. When she is unable to learn more about Louisa’s life, Greta is ready to abandon her work until her professor suggests she visit the Toronto library to get her hands on the original book. At the library, she discovers that Matthew Shepherd, a descendant of the Duberger’s, has been reading the poetry collection. When Matthew invites her to stay at Champs Blancs, the old manor where Louisa lived, Greta is excited for the opportunity to do some hands-on research about the poet. Little does she know that her attempt to uncover the truth about Louisa’s life will lead to the revelation of family secrets in the present day.

The mystery is unravelled through a variety of forms of writing, making the reading all the more interesting. Letters from the past and Louisa’s diary fill in the backstory. An added bonus to Charybdis is the vivid poetry within, written by the author’s aunt, Margaret Randall. As well, the references to Homer’s poem The Odyssey and the imagery Louisa pulls from it add to the atmosphere of this Gothic novel.

A haunting literary mystery of dark romance with supernatural elements, Charybdis will leave you wondering what was real and what was fiction. 

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