by Suzanne Craig-Whytock

Book Cover: Charybdis
ISBN: 978-1738496051
ISBN: 978-1738496051

When Greta Randall stumbles across a rare volume of Victorian poetry in a local antique market, she could never have imagined that it would take her on a journey through time. The secrets she discovers along the way may shed light on the book’s mysterious young author, Louisa Duberger, but at what peril?


There is no water here. It’s so dry you can’t even weep. Once we raised the bucket from the well just to see the full moon dancing in the water. Do you remember, Lucius?

Promise me you’ll never leave me, he says.

I can’t stay, I say.

But you made a vow, Louisa, he says. His face is grim.

I was six years old, I say.

And I was eight. A promise is a promise, he says. He locks the door and his heavy footsteps fade down the hallway.

Lucius is more myself than I am. I drown in him. He is the bucket and I am the moon.

At night, I dream of Charybdis, her whirlpool swirling around me and slowly devouring me. I cannot fight her anymore; instead, I beg her to take me.

Lucius returns in the morning, unlocks the door. I’m sorry, Louisa, he says. His face is pained, like Father’s face when Mother was dying. I’m sorry to have hurt you so.

I’d like some water, I say.

The well is empty, he says.


There is no water here. It’s so dry, you can’t shed a single tear.

Perhaps later we can go out riding, he says. Once we rode at midnight and the horses’ eyes were wild in the moonlight. Your hair came loose and fell about your face like ocean waves. I could almost taste the salt in the air. Do you remember, Louisa?

No, Lucius. I choose to forget, I say.

Reviews:James M. Fisher on The Miramichi Reader wrote:

"Charybdis, the latest novel from Suzanne Craig-Whytock, boldly takes its name from the horrible monster of Homer’s Odyssey and in doing so, sets the reader up to expect a fine read of a suspenseful nature.
Charybdis is the story of two women, in two different periods; Louisa Duberger in the late 1890s and Greta Randall in the present day. Louisa’s story is taken from her diary and is her life in Champs Blancs a grand estate in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Greta’s story is told in the third person. Aside from writing her diary, Louisa has already written and published two collections of poetry, one light and humorous, the other dark and dreary. It is the rare first book Greta comes across in a sprawling antique market in Woodstock Ontario. Taking it to her professor, he is astonished at the find, since it was unknown. He encourages her to investigate the life of Louisa Duberger, even making it the subject of her thesis. To see Louisa’s second book, she must travel to Toronto to view it in the Rare Book Library. She notices that one other person has also taken the book out several times, Michael Shepherd. Curious to meet this person, she leaves her contact information with the librarian, and Michael calls Greta to set up a meeting in Toronto. We leave her part of the story there.
Young Louisa’s diary is full of day-to-day events at Champs Blancs, living with her father and overly protective brother Lucius. There is a mental disorder that runs in the Duberger line and both her father and brother appear to be struggling with it. When her father takes to his sick bed, her brother becomes even more controlling, to Louisa’s bewilderment. He restricts her to the house, refusing to let her even visit her father’s room. We’ll leave her part of the story here too!
Charybdis was an engrossing and entertaining read. Nineteenth-century life in a large rambling estate has been well documented in words and movies down through the years. (In fact, I was moved to reread Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” which the melancholy mood of Charybdis immediately brought to mind.) Previous to this novel, I had only read Ms. Craig-Whytock’s short fiction in her collection, At the End of It All , which I found to be a little uneven, but her storytelling strengths come to the fore here in Charybdis. Ideal for fans of gothic love & suspense stories."

Diana Wallace Peach on Myths of the Mirror Book Reviews wrote:

"For her doctoral dissertation, Greta Randall plans to research the little-known Victorian poet Louisa Duberger. Greta’s goal is to uncover the mystery of Louisa’s life and why her first book of poetry was bubbly and cheerful, and her second, a few years later, grim and morose with a dark focus on death. What unfolds is a dual timeline story that flips back and forth between Greta’s current-day research efforts and the events of Louisa’s life from 1890-1892.
I loved the Gothic feel of Louisa’s timeline and narrative. Her character faces the most disturbing challenges of the two, though things do get dangerous for Greta toward the end. Louisa’s story was compelling partly because of how helpless she was to exert control over her life, especially once events turned against her and the downhill tumble began.
There are some twists and turns that add to the creepy atmosphere of this Gothic horror. The characters, Greta and Louisa, as well as secondary characters, especially Greta’s boyfriend Julian, are wonderfully distinct, their sensibilities and language appropriate for each timeline.
The pace is just right, and I read this page-turner in a couple of days. Highly recommended to fans of Gothic horror, twisted tales, and dual timelines. An excellent read."

About the Author

Award-winning writer Suzanne Craig-Whytock found her love of literature and writing at an early age. Her passion for the written word continued into adulthood, leading her to earn an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature. She has worked in education most of her life, and was a high school English teacher in Ontario, Canada for over 20 years. She has authored three novels, as well as a short story collection, and has had numerous pieces of short fiction and poetry appear in literary journals. She regularly publishes humorous essays focused on life’s absurdities, current events, and popular culture on her own website.