Kitsap Peninsula author Megan Chance’s new novel “The Visitant” uses 19th century Venice as a backdrop for a ghostly tale of tragedy and romance.

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‘The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story’

by Megan Chance

Lake Union Publishing, 363 pp., $14.95

Kitsap Peninsula author Megan Chance returns to the haunting, atmospheric milieu of her last novel (“Inamorata”) — Venice in the late 19th century — for this new novel about three people and a decaying mansion full of secrets.

Our heroine, Elena Spira, has arrived at the Ca’ Basilio to care for the epileptic young man Samuel Farber, as atonement for making a serious mistake that has damaged her family, and we are only on page two of the novel when she begins to feel “a creeping unease.” Cold, rainy and decaying, this is not the Venice of glossy travel posters, but the ideal setting for a novel that is part ghost story, part romance and part chilling mystery.

With the arrival of Nero, Samuel’s friend, at the gloomy house, the plot adds layers of complexity. Nero is the former lover of the owner’s daughter Laura, who drowned herself in the canal and is still deeply mourned — but was she in fact a suicide? Is it Laura’s unquiet spirit that haunts Ca’ Basilio, inciting its inhabitants to episodes of violence, inhabiting their psyches?

Author appearance

Megan Chance

The author of “The Visitant” will appear at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, at Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo; free (360-779-5909 or libertybaybooks.com). She will appear at 7 p.m. Oct. 7 at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park; free (206-366-3333 or thirdplacebooks.com).

As a romantic triangle develops and the plot advances, Chance’s command of hinting nuances sets the stage for the reader’s unease: “I thought I saw her at the corner of my vision, that floating shroud, a wisp of movement, but when I turned to look it was gone. The air grew icy.”