Cover Image: The Ancestor

The Ancestor

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Member Reviews

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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I loved this book! The writing is precise and beautiful, and it's impossible to put down. The first part is the best--it's where the author really pulls in the reader, slowly unspooling the story's mysteries which also gradually introducing more. The novel then takes a bit of a left turn, so keep in mind that there is a supernatural element to this story. 

I can't wait to read whatever Trussoni writes next. I'll review this one on my Instagram soon!
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I was really intrigued by this book when Danielle reached out to me and I'm so glad that I decided to give it a go. This story starts out a bit gloomy, its characters are cloaked in mystery. You can sort of tell where things are going to go, but I really liked how the author was able to pull everything off, so everything worked out really nicely in the end.

It is a story of ancestry and secrets that go back in time, going right back to our first ancestors. I really enjoyed reading this book, it was very original, really interesting and from about 30% onwards, I was totally hooked. I didn't expect that ending but it was really nicely handled. This was a really different read for me, but I did enjoy it!

Thank you to Danielle and her publicist for sending me a copy of this book, in no way did it change my opinion or rating. 

The full review of this book can be found on my blog (link down below).
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Favorite Quotes:

Listen to me, child. I saw it. The beast came for me on the mountain pass like a ghost with its white hair and devilish blue eyes. Its teeth were sharp as razors. But worst of all, it was so like us. Monstrous and yet so human. The legends were true.

… inheritance is a trickster. One generation may hide its genetic treasures, while the next will put them fully on display.

Leopold had described the village as a seed pressed into a rocky furrow, and it seemed exactly that: a furtive garden in a fold of stone. 

How strange it felt, to sit there so openly, my feet exposed. A lifetime of hiding them had made me self-conscious to the point of neurosis. But there was no reason to hide my feet from these people. 

My Review:

The Ancestor was a bracing and chilling tale of an epic legacy of dark secrets and unknown wealth hidden in the ice and snow.  While not my typical read, I was quickly pulled into an oddly captivating vortex of unnerving and itchy intrigue.  It was easy to follow, highly creative, monstrously eerie, and the most distressing part was that it was conceivably plausible.  Despite feeling edgy, unsettled, and nibbling on my cuticles - I was enslaved by my curiosity and unable to put my Kindle down.  

The narrative was richly textured, cunningly conceived, and maddeningly paced.  I was engrossed and conflicted while I cycled between feeling appalled and entranced.  To illustrate Ms. Trussoni’s exceptional word voodoo, I was mentally frostbitten by her descriptive depictions of the harsh Alpine weather that entrenched the beset characters while in reality, I was barefoot, clad in shorts, and comfortably lounging with an open window and ceiling fan on a balmy day in the tropics.  She has mad skills.
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The nitty-gritty: A promising start deteriorates into some very odd plot choices and pacing issues, although I adored the author’s atmosphere-infused writing.

Have you ever read a book that started out strong—I’m talking five-star strong—but later deteriorated into a much lower rating? Well unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to me with The Ancestor, I’m very sorry to say. I absolutely loved the first half of this book, with its creepy Gothic vibe and dusty old castle setting. Before the secrets are revealed, when those secrets could be anything, I was reveling in the anticipation of this story. There were actually a couple of jump scares and some shocking twists that made me think the story was going in a certain direction. And then bam. I got to about the fifty percent mark and everything came to a screeching halt.

But let’s back up a bit.

Alberta “Bert” Monte is separated from her husband Luca and is trying to figure out how to get back together with him, when she receives a mysterious letter in the mail one day. Addressed to Alberta Isabelle Eleanor Vittoria Montebianco, the letter claims that Bert is the last in a long line of Montebiancos, and that with the death of the family patriarch, Bert has inherited the Montebianco fortune, including a castle in Italy. In order to claim her inheritance, Bert must travel to Italy and meet with the family lawyers. Bert is shocked because she doesn’t know anything about this mysterious family of hers, but Luca’s grandmother Nonna, who has a connection to the family, tells her Castle Montebianco isn’t safe and begs Bert not to go. Nonetheless, she’s intrigued enough to make the trip to Italy, and somehow manages to convince Luca to go with her.

Arriving by helicopter—the castle is situated in the Alps and is only accessible by air during the winter months—Bert finds a huge, secluded castle, tucked away in the snow and ice at the foot of the mountains. There she meets a handful of odd caretakers: a groundskeeper named Sal, Basil the family secretary, and a housekeeper named Greta. None of them seem pleased at all with Bert’s arrival, and they appear to be hiding something from her. It isn’t until Bert meets her elusive great grandmother Vita that she begins to wonder if she should have come at all.

I want to talk about the things I enjoyed first. Trussoni’s writing is absolutely wonderful. She nails the Gothic sensibility of the story, which was creepy and atmospheric. I loved her descriptions of the castle, a monstrous place full of dust and decay, with rooms that haven’t seen the light of day in decades. It was this first section of the story, when Bert arrives at the castle and meets Vita and the others, that I loved the most. There was so much promise in the idea that the mysterious family secret had something to do with the castle, or someone inside the castle. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough at this point!

The reader is immediately thrust into several unsettling mysteries. Nonna tells Bert of a legendary “beast” who roams the icy mountainside and steals children. When Bert discovers the family mausoleum, she notices a number of dead babies—stillborns—scattered throughout the list of deaths. And the biggest mystery of all is Vita, Bert’s 102-year-old great-grandmother, who is sequestered in the northeast tower of the castle. When Bert finally meets her, she’s shocked by her odd looks—her white skin and hair, strangely shaped head, and large eyes—and even more startling, Vita tells Bert about her birthright, a family secret that needs to be protected at all costs.

This thrilling set-up had so much promise, and even after a couple of batshit crazy twists, I was still having fun, until about the halfway point when Vita reveals her secret. And that’s where The Ancestor went sideways for me. The story abruptly switches tone from spooky Gothic to a weird, anthropological tale involving the odd bloodline of the Montebianco family. Even worse, Bert, who makes one terrible choice after another, doesn’t ever seem to wise up and continues to go down a completely unrealistic path that had me scratching my head in confusion. Just about every single decision she makes is ridiculous. She goes to the castle alone without Luca, who later leaves her there with no way to get home. When she realizes she’s trapped in the castle, she attempts to escape to the nearby village of Nevenaro and gets caught up in a bizarre scheme with two strangers. When she’s SHOT IN THE LEG by Sal, who is trying to find her after she’s run off, she acts as if it’s perfectly normal for the groundskeeper of your ancestral castle to SHOOT YOU IN THE LEG. And I can’t even talk about the last quarter of the book because I probably shouldn’t spoil it for readers who sincerely want to read this. But, ugh Bert! Why why why??

I also found lots of loose ends and contradictions that didn't make sense. Luca flies to Italy with Bert, but ultimately doesn't make the trip to the castle and instead stays in a nearby town and then just...goes home? Bert seems about to freeze to death in one scene where she's walked miles through the snow, but later in the story she finds herself climbing the icy mountain and proclaims that she could probably survive out in the cold. What? There are more of these weird inconsistencies but I can't really talk about them due to spoilers.

Because this is ultimately a story about a family’s terrible history, I wanted even more of that history. We get some interesting snippets in the form of some journals, which go into greater depth about Vita’s birth and childhood and touch on some of the tragedies of the past, but more of those sections scattered throughout the book would have made this stronger.

And speaking of that last twenty-five percent, it’s almost unbearably rushed and crammed with way too much plot. There’s a big time jump of several months that really destroyed the pacing for me. Trussoni’s almost careful pacing in the first half completely disappears, and the story ends up in another place entirely. 

My three star rating might seem too high, based on all my complaints, but I have to give the author credit for an amazing beginning, hence that extra star. This is definitely one of my biggest disappointments of the year so far, however, though I encourage you to take a look at some of the highly rated reviews on Goodreads. Clearly there is an audience for this book, it just isn’t me.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
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What a book! This story was nothing like I expected...and I mean that in the best way possible. It's the perfect thing to read if you're looking for a historical story that has lots of twists and turns.

I just knew that when Bert Monte (i.e. Alberta Montebianco) received a fancy letter in the mail stating that she'd inherited a castle in Italy that her life would be changed. What I didn't expect was the type of change. You see, Monte is the last of the Montebianco's and in order to receive her inheritance of millions of dollars, a fancy title and everything else that comes with being suddenly rich, she has to travel to the castle to Italy to claim it. Her life reads as a fairy tale upon her landing in Italy, but once she arrives at the castle located in the frosty cold Alps, the story suddenly shifts to something darker. 

I found it easy to lose myself in this story and would totally recommend as the perfect pandemic read.
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you had me at “gothic novel of suspense that plunges the reader into a world of dark family secrets, the mysteries of human genetics, and the burden of family inheritance.” And I was totally into the first half of #TheAncestor. Loved the wish-fulfillment in discovering you’re actually of noble descent and the new owner of a castle. Loved the creepy castle and weird caretakers and strange family history mystery. And just when I thought I had an idea of where this one was 180 plot twist. Like...I can’t even discuss it, it’s such a massive spoiler. Some of you will love it, others will hate it. You’ll just have to read it to believe it. Personally, I had issues with it and it felt like I was reading two completely different books. So, with that being said, this one is a little more at your own risk, but I’m so curious what others have thought about this one, especially that polarizing twist!
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This was a quick fun read. A tad melodramatic and gothic but a good story that, and this is key, held my interest throughout. Looks like the first in a series. Recommended.
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Well, this novel took a turn I wasn't expecting it to. It was an exciting genre turn and one I don't normally like, but the way the author wrote it, I was swept away... it was so completely believable. 

This is my first book by Danielle Trussoni and to be honest I am already trying to fit other books of hers into my reading lineup. 

She just has a way of setting the scene. I honestly felt like I was in an ancient castle surrounded by Alps, roaming abandoned rooms and digging through family heirlooms, trying to figure out this dark family secret. The characters were so well thought out and perfectly placed throughout the story. No unnecessary characters to learn about and get in the way of "the meat of the plot". Every character had a purpose, which I appreciated.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, this book entered a genre that I wasn't expecting, but I honestly loved it and cannot imagine a better way for the story to wrap up. It has a creepy, weird, dark and haunting atmosphere from beginning to end. I loved it! 

The Ancestor is available now to read! It is the perfect quarantine read! A 5 star book for me! 

Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins Publishers for allowing me an eARC to read and give my honest review. 

Happy Reading!
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I’ve always loved Trussoni’s books and THE ANCESTOR did not disappoint! The perfect blend of gothic horror and biological. If Mary Shelley was a Sasquatch’er, she would have written this! I devoured this book!
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The Ancestor is a great book. The suspense and mystery percolate throughout the chapters. I enjoyed the Old World mysticism and superstitions as well as the traditions of The Montebianco family. The story flows from one scene to the next and Bert is a relatable person to take the journey. I enjoyed reading The Ancestor.
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Thank you #HarperCollinsPublisher, #WilliamMorrow and #netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book #TheAncestor by Danielle Trussoni. Publication 4/7/2020
Get ready to go on an adventure to the Alps of northern Italy, where  Bert Monte goes to discover her heritage.
Berte is living in Milton and struggling with depression after her latest miscarriage.  Her marriage is also crumbling, when she receives a letter from a lawyer in Torino, Italy telling her she is the heir to the Montebianco title and fortune.
She travels to Torino and is flown to the castle high in the cold cold Alps. The story is filled with strange creatures and fantastical stories. I recommend to anyone who enjoys out of the ordinary tales
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2.5 stars, rounded up to 3.  The Ancestor started out as a fairly typical old-fashioned gothic...a young woman learns she is the sole heir to a fortune, is whisked away to a remote location, and finds herself held against her will. Unfortunately, the book just didn't work for me. I didn't find Bert Monte believable, especially when she and her (newly reconciled) husband are mysteriously separated in Turin. As far as the purported "horror" aspect of the story, it just wasn't there. The book suddenly turned into an adventure story of sorts, that, again, just didn't work for me. There was no sense of hesitation in Bert's acceptance of her lineage or need the need to be present at the family estate. I need to be able to suspend disbelief, at least for a time, for a story to be enjoyable. . I felt the author was trying to do too much here, and couldn't decide which way she really wanted to go.  Many thanks to NetGalley and to William Morrow for the opportunity to read the eARC.
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I was given a copy of The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I really wanted to like this book. I’ve been enjoying quite a few Gothic novels lately. This one was enjoyable at times but there were so many issues that drove me crazy while reading. Bert is an idiot. The entire plot is driven by Bert not actually thinking anything through. She also blindly follows people she doesn’t know at all. While also never listening to people she’s known for years. She is just so passive and trusting and never actually asking for proof in anything. Then is surprised time and again when obviously sketchy things are sketchy. Besides that I was enjoying the novel. I liked the setup of a creepy castle and a village that has been abandoned. I ignored multiple times when the book contradicted itself. Then a series of plot twists happened that was explained with some pseudoscience and it just didn’t work for me at all.  And Bert's continued behavior still drove me nuts. She just allowed crazy things to happen and barely questioned it. Idk. I think that the writing is engaging. I would try another book by the author. I enjoy the creepy atmosphere the novel has, it's just the actual secret that completely fell flat for me.
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This was such a strange, crazy story but I could NOT put it down!! It's certainly not going to be for everyone but I was for sure the target audience!
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My three words: gothic, scientific, suspenseful

Bert Monte discovers that she is the last in line of an Italian noble family, and with this title comes responsibility for the family's estate. As she finds out more about her family and the dark secrets that have permeated throughout generations she is presented with the difficult choice of whether or not to embrace who they really are.

This was definitely a compelling read. It bounced around between science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, gothic, and thriller. I loved how diverse the storyline was in this matter, and it made the story unpredictable and compelling.

The use of memoir or old letters as explanations is one of my least favorite plot devices. Many of the mysteries of this book are solved when the protagonist comes across a seemingly long-lost letter that was fairly easy to find. I would've easily read more pages if that meant discovering the mysteries of her family in a more physical or surprising way.

Overall, it was interesting and unique, but I was left wanting. I recommend it for fans of mysteries, thrillers, gothic fiction, and family sagas.
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This was not what I was expecting. Loved the idea of inheriting a title and castle, but her family was REALLY something else. Lesson is mate within your own species. It is gothic, but story was not my cup of tea. Maybe more horror genre. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
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“We never found the bones of our children though. The children just disappeared. 

Imagine receiving a letter saying that you're the last descendant of your family line; that you're the heir to an ancestral castle in the mountains of Northern Italy. 28-year-old Bert had two choices once she got the news, either to ignore it, or take action and go visit her ancestral home. Bert makes the decision of choosing the latter.

This is a story where you find yourself instantly connecting with the protagonist. The Ancestor tackles the “monster horror” category and blends in the right creepy undertones. It has great pacing and is somewhat of a slow-burn, but the engaging kind, surprising at the end of every chapter.

I enjoyed the remoteness of the village where the events take place. It really highlighted what it's like to live far away from civilization, to live in the mountains instead.

There are memoirs of one of our protagonist’s ancestors included in the story, which gave it a really entertaining “book-within-a-book” vibe. Excellent writing and execution.
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I really enjoyed this book.  A cross between Frankenstein, and The Historian, this book drew me in and was hard to put down.  Bert, or Alberta, finds out one day that she is countess and has inherited an estate in Italy.  But upon arriving in Italy she finds that family secrets might destroy who she is.
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Interesting foray into a fortune linked to a genealogical dna match for a young woman which turns into a decades long family secret that you can't imagine. Everyone should love this yeti connection. At times mysterious and dark it weaves an interesting tale. It is unlike anything I've read before.
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