Sunday, April 19, 2020
Book Review: The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni
Trussoni, Danielle. 2020. The Ancestor. New York, NY: William Morrow and Company, an imprint of HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0062912756. $27.99 USD.
Brief annotation: After taking a DNA test, a woman unexpectedly learns she has inherited an Italian title and estate. Travelling to a remote area in the Alps, she finds out more than she bargained for about her family history. The clever foreshadowing, fantastical elements, and sense of dread invoked in The Ancestor make it a page turner.
It's a challenge to review this unique new novel from Danielle Trussoni without giving away too much. There's quite an unexpected twist that I never saw coming, and I would not want to spoil it for any potential readers! But I can say a few things that will give readers an idea of what's in store if they choose to read it.
Alberta "Bert" Monte is having a tough time after a series of miscarriages, and is separated from her husband in a marriage that's on its last legs. She even took a DNA test to try to determine if there was a genetic reason why she could not bring a child to term, but the results never arrived, and she forgot about it.
When she receives an official letter written in Italian addressed to "Alberta Isabelle Eleanor Vittoria Montebianco, she opens a door to a strange family history she knew nothing about. That history includes a mysterious ghost town in the Italian alps, a Gothic castle and compound with enigmatic caretakers, something, or someone, hidden away in a tower on the estate, and a secret so incredible that it's only whispered on the cold wind.
The author has done a fantastic job with foreshadowing, and I remember being in the staff lounge at the library on my dinner break one evening and kind of singing, "Uh, oh: someone's gonna DIE." My colleague looked at me funny. There is also a very real sense of dread and foreboding throughout the book which kept me turning the pages.
The Ancestor is a novel that's hard to classify, genre-wise. It's a gothic thriller and mystery, with elements of horror and the fantastical. I'm not sure where to shelve it at my library, but I bought copies, and will look forward to recommending this one to readers looking for something a bit different.