Portraits of Celina – Sue Whiting

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ARC from NetGalley

After the death of Bayley’s father in a freak accident, her mother moves the family from the suburbs of Sydney to the country – specifically, to the long abandoned house of their O’Malley relatives, whose daughter Celina disappeared decades ago. Bayley fonds herself increasingly possessed by Celina’s ghost, who seems to want her to avenge her murder. Doing so may cost Bayley her chance at happiness with a local boy. But ultimately, she may not have a choice.

The prose is nothing to write home about and the foreshadowing is delivered by means of what JK Rowling calls “anvil-sized hints” – I guessed every reveal but one. However, the villain is genuinely creepy and I couldn’t put the book down. I objected slightly to the statement near the end of the novel that Celina and her killer deserve each other – Celina is manipulative and puts Bayley’s life at risk, but her rage is legitimate and she’s not a murderer. Anyway, this is a fast-paced, shivery ghost story, but not a very satisfying mystery due to the aforementioned foreshadowing.

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