Cover Image: The Ancestor

The Ancestor

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Member Reviews

I loved the Northern Italian castle, gothic setting of this. The descriptions drew me in. I also found the plot to be extremely unique, unlike anything else I’ve read. I had a little trouble suspending my disbelief in parts and it became a little to fantastical for my liking.
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My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers/William Morrow for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

This took forever for me to get to about 30% of the way through and then I read some reviews and just decided that I didn't need to try to slog through it anymore.  It was slow, somewhat boring and the MC was not my fav.  She and her husband did things that made no sense in both the real world and for their characters as they were built in the beginning of the book.  They were mostly one-note, she WANTED A BABY OMG and he WANTED TO BE WITH HER AND NOT GET DIVORCED (except when he left after what I would call a "non-fight") and that was pretty much it.  

The book is slow with little return (for me), but I can see readers who are into modern Gothic tales with some supernaturally/could be possible maybe if I squint really hard horroresque-ish stuff in it enjoying this.  

I unfortunately did not enjoy it and have to give it 1 star, but if you enjoy lite-horror, you might enjoy this.
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This book started off darker than I thought it would, and oh it set the stage for the rest of the book! Its a must read!!!
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This book had such promise but sadly it wasn't for me. I thought the idea of bringing genetics into a thriller was so compelling but, for me, this novel offered no thrills. It was a slog to get through to the ending.
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I felt sorely disappointed to find that this was really a modern gothic sans the horror...

Loosely, the story has an American woman, Alberta Monte, inheriting an Italian estate in the Alps...

Along with a castle, land and money she also inherits a responsibility... I won't disclose what that is as it will spoil the plot for many of the author's fans...

This novel has many similarities to the novel CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR by Jean Auel... Many, many similarities including some names used...

My problem with this novel was a lack of character development. Also there was a rather large portion near the middle which gave an uninteresting family genealogy...
This one begat that one and so on...

I viewed the ending as way, way too much... won't tell you too much of what because of spoilers but it caused me to skim the rest of the story just to finish...
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This book was not for me. It had me interested up until the secret tribe of icemen people off in the mountains or somewhere there abouts. In lieu of writing all the ways in which this book frustrated me, here's a list of questions of had while reading the book that never got answered.

• Why does this book sell itself as a spooky gothic book when it is literally just about a secret yeti tribe? I feel like I did not get what I signed up for.
• Why does the plot make such a big fuss about hiding Vita away and how that was traumatic for her only for Bert to finally be given a child that’s from this tribe of deformed yeti people and do the exact same thing to her?
• Why is Bert so obsessed with having a child at the expense of literally everything and everyone else?
• Why was the idea of the tribe whole-ass kidnapping children just like… glossed over?
• If the purpose of the estate is to protect the tribe/its lineage at this point, why isn’t anyone else in the estate’s household brought in to help this be successful? Why import a clueless American?
• Again, why was Bert more concerned with having a child than with her ability to provide that child with a normal life? Seems selfish, I don’t know.
• Why does Bert feel she has any right to dictate how the tribe lives, especially when she skips right off to the estates Paris property to live with her stolen daughter? Shit is bananas. “You must commit no crimes or else I’ll deny you medical supplies.” For real?
• How could Danielle Trussoni put in so much work to write a critical but historically accurate account of how white men took advantage and influenced indigenous tribes only to make her protagonist literally do exactly that? I can tell she put in the work, so I'm just really sad that it ended the way it did regardless of all that research.
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This book is the perfect blend of atmosphere, creepy vibes, and family secrets.  I had a ton of fun reading this book and could not have guessed what happened!  This book is well written, the characters are dynamic, and I had fun seeing where this story was going to take me.
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This book is great! Would definitely recommend. Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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As a hug fan of gothic horror, I was immediately excited to read The Ancestor. When Alberta receives a mysterious letter informing her of an inheritance in Italy that she never expected, she's excited to learn more about her heritage and a way to renew her romance amidst martial strains, but gets more than she bargains for when arriving. The longer she stays in her ancestral castle isolated in the Italian alps, the more she learns about her complicated and strange family history. What she will eventually learn was an unexpected and delightful twist that I truly enjoyed. Highly recommend!
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Gothic novels are some of my favorites.
It's the eerie mix of dark horror and mystery. To me, I think of top hats and a cane dripping with blood. Petticoats laced with tiny skulls. Probably not accurate but  that's where my brain goes.
I was excited to read this because it's everything I love in a gothic novel. Woman discovers she's the heiress to a faraway exotic castle. Of course the castle is abnormal in every single way. The set up is great, sense of foreboding is spot on and then
it stalls
the books, the characters. 
Everything.
It just halts.
This is why I could barely finish it and why I have to review as I am.
Somewhere something went wrong and its truly a shame because it started off well enough. I don't even want to get into the superior race bullshit.  There's enough ugliness out right now.
Thanks very much to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this ARC. Opinions are my own.
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Gothic novels are almost certainly one of my favorite genres, and The Ancestor takes the genre, and moves it in a different direction than what you might typically expect. The story opens with Bert discovering that she is the heir to an estate in the Alps. Mourning the recent loss of her infant child and struggling with her marriage Bert decides to go and determine the validity of this claim. 

This is not a Gothic Romance, but rather the story is that of a woman discovering her own story in a unforgiving location, with numberous characters whom you aren't entirely certain what their personal goals truly are. This  novel looks at the connection to history and family, and Bert determines how best to live when truths are unveiled. It's a story about a woman finding her story, which was definitely one of my favorite parts of this book.
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I really had a good time with this book. So much so, I purchased one of the author’s previous titles right after finishing. 

The writing and research is wonderful. The author really knows how to create worlds that are enveloping. Finding out what is really going on was such a journey - I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoilers, but the title fits this book perfectly. 

The ending fell a little flat for me after all the work and build up throughout the novel. It just seemed a bit rushed, but that could be me. 

I will absolutely read more from this author.
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A book that drew me right in an author who never fails.Gothic ,mysterious ,atmospheric a true page turner.A book I will be recommending.#netgalley#harpercollins
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So, The Ancestor. I'm genuinely not sure where to start with this one because it really feels like two different books forced into one binding. The Ancestor is one of those books that started out so promising, so atmospheric and compelling, and somehow turned into something, well, something that seems to have gone off the rails a little bit.

Alberta "Bert" Monte receives an unexpected Italian document one day that she soon finds out means that she is the last surviving heir of the Montebianco family line and as such is soon to inherit everything from the Montebiancos, including a castle in a secluded area in Italy. Once she gets to Italy, however, she soon learns that things are a bit more complicated than she expected, and things at this castle are...well, not exactly normal. Once there she meets an odd array of characters including the seemingly sinister housekeeper Greta and groundskeeper Sal, and her mysterious great grandmother Vita. Bert herself is surprisingly firm and inquisitive about finding out about her family's mysterious path, and I was curious to see how she would continue to handle the different obstacle that would undoubtedly be thrown her way and how her character would develop as a result.

Trussoni did a fantastic job of creating a dark and foreboding atmosphere that followed Bert from the United States all the way to the castle in Italy. I was so hooked on exploring what exactly this inheritance entailed for Bert, and there were so many delicious hints at something sinister at play in the Montebianco family. Figuring out what it was and the journey Bert would take to find out was something I was so excited for, and I loved how Trussoni set this entire first half or so of this book up.

So everything sounds good, right? We have a great hook where our protagonist gets to inherit some huge castle (I know I'm jealous), there are some spooky stories about the family's past, the atmosphere is perfecty set up, and things are progressing nicely. ....And then about halfway through things get a little, uh, weird, you could say. My mom read this book before I did, and I remember looking at her after reading a particularly weird climactic point and asking her what on earth I was reading because I just had no idea what genre this book was even supposed to be anymore.

Not only did this book just take a particularly sharp turn into a new direction, but even the choices the characters made felt rough and didn't seem to follow the pattern of character that Trussoni had set up. I won't mention some of the specifics so as not to spoil, but I was incredibly frustrated by how Bert responded to some major things that happened both to her and around her. She had such an odd easy acceptance of things that felt entirely unrealistic, and some of the things that happened were equally mind-boggling.  By the 3/4 mark, I just wanted to finish the book. If I had known what this book was going to be going into it, I might've liked it, but since this wasn't what I wanted or expected at all, I just wasn't interested. It was also pretty boring at various points because there was so much info-dumping about Bert's family and the history of the area and so on. This was exciting at the start, but in the latter half of the book it just grew tiresome.

Overall, I've given The Ancestor 3 stars. If I were going off the latter half only, it'd probably be closer to 2, but since the beginning was still promising I felt it should be boosted up. I would mainly recommend this to anyone who loves extremely radical plot twists and doesn't mind when things get a bit weird (and I'm someone who usually likes weird!).
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If this had stuck to being a modern gothic novel of a surprise inheritance of a family castle in the hinterlands of the Italian alps, I would have found this story really compelling. It's an addicting read, but has so many odd elements that could have been successfully edited out. Definitely a content warning for miscarriage and infertility! It was a lot of the book (and again, leaving it out would not have harmed the plot at all). The whole story was just incredibly cavalier about loss of life of many side characters in a way that was distracting. But it was the switch in focus late in the book to be a regurgitation of popular history of Neanderthal research was what truly lost me. I felt like I was reading a 19th century-penned anthropological study of an "unknown tribe" by a "superior race" and it was SUPER uncomfortable to read. I cannot recommend this book. Rewrite The Ancestor to stay in the castle, keep the ancestry of the mysterious tower dweller as the biggest focus of the story, and it's a much better book.
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Danielle Trussoni, the internationally bestselling author of the Angelology series, returns with THE ANCESTOR, a sultry gothic mystery set in the Italian Alps that plunges readers into the depths of one family’s legacy --- and how far they are willing to go to preserve it.

Alberta Monte is at a crossroads. Twenty-eight years old and freshly grieving yet another miscarriage, Bert has recently separated from her husband, Luca, and is learning to adjust to her new normal. But the glossy envelope stamped from Italy and addressed to Alberta Isabelle Eleanor Vittoria Montebianco that arrives at her home one day is anything but normal. When Bert opens the mysterious letter, she finds heavy, official-looking paper marked by an unusual seal --- and a lot of Italian gibberish. Though she is in the middle of a trial separation from Luca, she knows he will be able to figure out what it means.

By sheer coincidence, Bert and Luca’s grandparents all came from the same small, remote Italian village, Nevenero, a poor cluster of homes marked by a lack of sunshine and the dark, secret-filled castle that reigns over it. With all of Bert’s relatives deceased, Luca encourages her to ask his grandmother, Nonna, to help her translate the documents. But when Bert approaches Nonna, she is shocked to learn that her last name is not Monte, but Montebianco, and she is the heiress to a vast estate and nobility in Nevenero. That’s not all, though. In a horrifying bout of terror, Nonna reveals that there is a monster lurking in the mountains of Nevenero, one that stole dozens of children from the villagers, leaving only pain and devastation behind. And Bert’s grandfather, Giovanni Montebianco, who fled a lifetime of class and wealth for a new start in America, knew more about the monster than Bert’s family ever let on.

With the aid and supervision of a delegate from her family’s estate, Bert and Luca travel to Italy to meet with her family’s --- now her --- lawyers to discuss the inheritance. They enjoy a brief reconciliation before a family secret forces them apart, leaving Bert alone to face her family’s legacy. When she learns that her grand-uncle’s wife still resides in the Montebianco castle, she agrees to fly there via helicopter --- of course, there is no other way --- to learn about the Montebianco legacy and begin to take stock of her inheritance. She finds out along the way that while the Montebianco estate has some movable goods and political pull, it is deeply in debt from lack of coordination and care over the years as the family has dwindled to only Giovanni’s descendants, most of whom, including Bert, were not aware of his noble background.

When Bert arrives in Nevenero, she is shocked by just how remote the tiny village and castle are. With nothing but mountains surrounding the estate, she can understand why Nonna called it a land without sun. But she will soon find out that the truths hidden within the Montebianco castle are far, far darker. What first seems like a dream --- who among us wouldn’t want to find out we’re actually royalty? --- quickly becomes a nightmare as Bert learns that the Montebianco family has a tragic and destructive history, full of mysterious deaths, powerful leaders and an everlasting air of the otherworldly.

As Bert investigates the rumors of the monsters that hide in the hills and her own family history, she finds disturbing links between the two, most notably in her own grandfather’s mother, a woman born with severe deformities and darkness in her heart. At first, Bert is relieved to learn that issues with childbearing run in her family, but as time goes on, she starts to wonder why the stillbirths and early deaths of so many of her relatives were kept secret for so long. Is it possible that Bert has inherited more than difficult pregnancies, and that her family’s genes hold something far more evil? Blending a bewitching sense of place with an easily relatable heroine, Trussoni writes the perfect rainy-day suspense read that will grip anyone from start to finish.

I feel as though readers will fall on one of two sides with Bert: they will either read along for the mystery and tense air and think very little of her, or find her far too easygoing and submissive. She’s not the most compelling or memorable protagonist, but THE ANCESTOR is about so much more than its characters. The castle, the village and the mountains themselves are all characters in their own right, and though it’s possible that Trussoni could have pushed Bert just a bit further, I found the novel to be perfectly enjoyable and unputdownable all the same.

At first, I was expecting a luscious, wine-fueled gothic mystery with plenty of Renaissance-inspired imagery. I got precisely that and far more. Trussoni is a gifted and cadenced writer. Even when the premise is somewhat unbelievable --- Bert literally jets off to Italy with a stranger the very day she learns she is the heiress to a castle and a Countess --- Trussoni keeps you glued to the page with her vivid descriptions, lyrical prose and inviting mysteries.

THE ANCESTOR is perfectly gothic in its atmosphere, and the mystery, though tantalizing, is the kind that sinks into your bones rather than turn you away with cheap gimmicks. There are no jump scares here, but the Montebianco family will still chill you to your core.
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I've loved both of Trussoni's other novels and this did not disappoint. She is a wonderful author and this book deserved more far more attention that it got. A great gothic.
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This is a creepy, gothic story in which the past comes to haunt the inheritor goes to see the castle she ireceived and finds her family's past is not so pleasant.
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My Highly Caffeinated Thought: The perfect mixture of mystery and folklore all the while exploring human nature and how much we carry with us from our ancestors.

If there was one book I was looking forward to reading this year, it was THE ANCESTOR. I have loved Trussoni’s work since the moment I finished ANGELOLOGY. Her style of writing is elegant and effortless as she weaves together stories filled with reality infused with something otherworldly.

In THE ANCESTOR, the author does it again. I opened the pages wanting to be transported somewhere outside my own mind and that is what I got. From the opening chapter, I was instantly drawn to Alberta and wanted to know where this mysterious letter would bring her and who she would meet. The cast of characters is diverse, quirky, and add so many more levels to the storytelling. The only thing that enriches the tale more is the setting and the atmosphere the author has created through the landscape and descriptions of the castle.

Packed with family secrets, unexpected turns, emotion, and a look into what is inherited from a family’s lineage, Trussoni created a wonderful novel. It is about love, pain, and obligation. It requires the Alberta and the reader to open the mind something you never thought possible, but once seen…or read in this case…puts all the pieces together.

Hands down, Danielle Trussoni has a gift. Her ability to gift her reader such wonderful tales is one that I cherish. In a time when I was having trouble finding pleasure in reading, I opened this book and escaped my own life for a while.
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Described as adult fiction/adult literary fiction, I think this book should also be described as adult fantasy/folklore. I didn’t think I’d enjoy this book based off the fantasy aspect, but in the end I really liked this book. There are some very serious elements that could be triggers for some. I also really enjoyed the characters in this book. They were all very dynamic and likable. I could see there was a lot of research done by the author when it came to the folklore of the book. I learned something new about the folklore and history of the region this book is set in. 

TW: infertility/miscarriage
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