Terror at White Otter Castle was about to be published by Noble Romance Publishing when it went out of business. Rights reverted to the author.
Laurel, Aster, and Beth have been best friends since grade one when they created
the “triangle of power". In September, as high school graduates, they will head
off in different directions. Because Laurel fears it will be the end of their
friendship, she convinces the others to join her on an end of summer trip - a
nine-day canoe expedition to White Otter Castle, deep in the Northern Canadian
forest. Unknown to her, the hundred-year-old log castle is has a dark secret.
The “triangle of power” faces the ultimate test when the dark forest holds a
terror they never imagined.
This campy little novella is sure to give you a shiver and a smile.
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Thankfully, White Otter Castle is in much better shape than in the novella. If you'd like more information about it, here are some helpful sites.
For my brother, John, whose courage, fortitude, and positive attitude are inspirational.
As the canoes threaded through the yellowing lily pads and marsh grass, an uneasy silence fell upon the paddlers. Ahead loomed White Otter Castle, the mysterious hundred-year-old monstrosity hidden away in isolated northern Ontario wilderness. The presence of the long-departed James Alexander McOuat pressed down upon the group as they neared the disintegrating structure. Grey logs with missing chinking, vanished shingles, gaping empty windows, and a partially collapsed awning spoke of decay, loss, and neglect.
It was late on the third afternoon of their canoe trip when the group reached the forlorn castle of broken dreams. Laurel, Aster, and Beth were suitably impressed. It was more imposing than its pictures, a massive log building remote by even northern standards. Built by hand by a single man in 1914, there were still no roads leading to its isolated site. It could only be reached by float plane, boat, canoe, helicopter, four—wheeled drive, or, in winter, by snowmobile. The otherworldliness of the log castle emphasized that they were far, far away from civilization as they knew it.
All the canoes stopped as the occupants gazed on this bizarre structure in the middle of nowhere. The plop plop of the paddles ceased. A light breeze swayed the leaves on the deciduous trees on shore and created small waves on the clear empty lake. Overhead, a turkey vulture circled silently.
Three red roofs contrasted vividly with the green foliage of trembling aspen, white birch, white ash, cedar, and spruce trees. A long red-roofed open porch/awning sheltered three dark doorways into the decrepit main building, which was also red-roofed. But what was most startling was the four-storey square tower in the back corner, facing the lake, seemingly transposed from the secluded Scottish highlands. One could imagine an imprisoned princess gazing out over the lake and woods or a mad poet pacing in frustration.
"Hold the canoe still," cried Aster. She took off her sunglasses and set them on top of her large straw hat. "I want to get some photos from the lake."
Matt, the handsome, blond stranger Aster had been partnered with, steadied the canoe by laying his paddle flat on the surface of the water. Aster pulled out her camera and shot several angles. Then she turned the camera on Matt and snapped two more. Her black wavy hair contrasted beautifully with her smooth, pale skin. Her face belonged in a Renoir painting.
"Oh, brother," said Beth as she resumed and paddled past with Laurel in the stern. "It's not enough she's got a gorgeous boyfriend at home, she has to hit on her canoe partner too."
"Sh," said Laurel. "She's just taking pictures. That's what she does."
"Right," said Beth. "She's going to add shots of hot Matt to her portfolio."
"Why not?" snapped Laurel. "He is photogenic."
The guides, Rebekkah and Steve, resumed paddling first. They led the canoes toward the landing through floating arrowhead. No one spoke as the three canoes touched the bank. The canoeists in the bows jumped onto the shore, pulled the canoes up onto the pebbly beach, and held the vessels while the paddlers in the stern made their way carefully along the keel and onto land. Together they hauled the craft further up the beach.
Laurel was first to break the silence. "Jimmy McOuat didn't build the red roofs." She tucked a strand of bright auburn hair behind her ear. "They were put on by the Ministry of Natural Resources in the 1950s to stop the castle from decaying away. Although it looks in pretty rough shape, there have been attempts to stop it from falling apart."
Beth, a wide-shouldered strong woman with short, wiry brown hair, nodded absently. She rubbed the back of her neck, trying to smooth out the small hairs that had risen at the sight of the weird castle.
Even without the red roofs, the castle would have been a marvel for its time. What would possess a man to build a monstrosity so far away from any community with only himself to rattle around in its large, lonely rooms? And what was the purpose of the odd tower?
Beth shivered as a small silhouette with a floppy hat appeared in the top tower window and just as quickly disappeared. The guides had said tourist season was pretty much over. The long weekend at the beginning of September was their slowest time. She could see no campsite on the shore, and no canoe pulled up on the bank. The shadow must have been a trick of the light.
"All right," called Aster as she resumed paddling. "Let's bring her in and check this colossal out. I can't wait to get some shots up close. This is phenomenal."