Book Review: The Ancestor

THE ANCESTOR | Danielle Trussoni
04.07.2020 | William Morrow
Rating: 4.5/5 stars


Alberta “Bert” Monte has received a mysterious letter addressed to Countess Alberta Montebianco and her New York address. The letter claims that she has inherited a noble title, money, and a castle in Italy. Bert can’t begin to imagine how this might be true, but the chance to escape her stressful life for a luxury holiday in Italy and maybe discover a thing or two about her family’s history is too good of an opportunity to pass up. At first everything seems like a dream come true, a chance at a lavish life. Things quickly shift when Bert arrives at the ancestral castle isolated in the Italian Alps. Odd things start to happen around the castle and Bert quickly learns her family has a darker, more complicated side that she has just inherited.


THE ANCESTOR is an atmospheric, intricately layered Gothic horror story steeped in mystery. From the moment I started reading this book I didn’t want to put it down. Just like Bert, I was along for the ride to find out the truth surrounding her ancestry and the many secrets her family has kept tucked away for centuries. 

My favorite aspect of this story is hands down the setting. The Montebianco castle is located deep in the Italian Alps with only an abandoned village to keep them company. There are hardly any occupants in the castle. Isolation, not only of the location, but also of the amount of people around Bert, becomes a major factor to the overall mood for the story. When you think of a castle, you naturally imagine lavish furniture, rugs made of animal skins, portraits adorning every corner, and chandeliers surrounding you. The Montebiano castle certainly checks all of these boxes, but it’s also dark and dreary and altogether uninviting. 


Now that we’ve got a creepy location covered, time to throw in some unsettling characters! Trussoni has the reader covered with the strange group of relatives and servants occupying Montebianco castle. The reader can immediately tell that each of these people are hiding something, but is that secret dangerous to Bert? How will she know who to trust in a room full of strangers?

Atmospheric setting? Check! Odd cast of characters? Check! Tell me more you say, but alas I just can’t! This has to be one of the best books to go into blindly. I had absolutely no idea what the heck was coming when I hit the halfway point. I knew I had a ton of questions and some really strange hunches, but truly nothing prepared me for the crazy roller coaster that is the second half of this story! It’s tense and weird and at times downright unsettling. 

THE ANCESTOR is the perfect choice for any Gothic literature lover to pick up!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

A huge thank you to William Morrow for my gifted copy!

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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