Title: The Ancestor
Author: Danielle Trussoni
Genre: Gothic Horror/Mystery/ Science Fiction
Narrator: Heather Masters
Length: 11 hours (349 pages)
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Source: Libro.fm credit
Recommended for fans of: Mexican Gothic, Devolution
Content: miscarriage/infertility, suicide
From the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of the Angelology series comes a bewitching gothic novel of suspense that plunges readers into a world of dark family secrets, the mysteries of human genetics, and the burden of family inheritance.
It feels like a fairy tale when Alberta ”Bert” Monte receives a letter addressed to “Countess Alberta Montebianco” at her Hudson Valley, New York, home that claims she’s inherited a noble title, money, and a castle in Italy. While Bert is more than a little skeptical, the mystery of her aristocratic family’s past, and the chance to escape her stressful life for a luxury holiday in Italy, is too good to pass up.
At first, her inheritance seems like a dream come true: a champagne-drenched trip on a private jet to Turin, Italy; lawyers with lists of artwork and jewels bequeathed to Bert; a helicopter ride to an ancestral castle nestled in the Italian Alps below Mont Blanc; a portrait gallery of ancestors Bert never knew existed; and a cellar of expensive vintage wine for Bert to drink.
But her ancestry has a dark side, and Bert soon learns that her family history is particularly complicated. As Bert begins to unravel the Montebianco secrets, she begins to realize her true inheritance lies not in a legacy of ancestral treasures, but in her very genes.
This book weaves together so many different genres: gothic horror, mystery, suspense, and realistic science fiction. The result is atmospheric, haunting, and unsettling, but even the most shocking twists were believable.
When Bert unexpectedly inherits a castle in Italy, it seems too good to be true… and perhaps it is. At her ancestral home in the Alps, Bert is isolated, trapped, and disturbed by the family secrets she uncovers. Her weeklong visit to the castle becomes indefinite, and I wish she had been a bit more vocal about the things that made her uncomfortable.
The book takes a complete 180 about halfway through, transitioning from a gothic mystery into an exploration of genealogy, cryptozoology, and local folklore. It almost felt like two different books, but in the end all the pieces came together to tell a cohesive story about Bert and the legacy of the Montebianco family.
I was lucky enough to be a part of a book club discussion with the author, and it was fascinating to learn about the inspirations for this book and the intense research she completed to make the science feel real. The Ancestor is an accessible type of horror that is not overly scary or graphic, so it should appeal to many readers.