... ingenious and entertaining ... Trussoni’s hands are as creepy as you might expect from an author who also writes the Book Review’s horror column ... One of the many pleasures of this addictive book is the narrator’s excitement in the act of reading ... an elegant touch of Gothic mirroring that multiplies our own pleasure even as Bert’s search becomes more urgent ... the genetic secrets Bert uncovers are rather more surprising than learning you’re more French than Italian. They might prove a little outlandish for some readers, but we’ve had fair warning: We’re in a Gothic novel and there may be monsters...The answers may be a little muddled, but can you really fault the author for failing to resolve such profound subjects? ... The Gothic has traditionally been used as a vehicle for exploring contradictions — between past and present, the dead and the living, the self and the other. The central contradictions in The Ancestor reside in the questions of who we are and where we belong — of what divides us and what unites us — questions harder to answer than what’s behind the Black Veil of Udolpho. Those are the mysteries we’re invited to discover in this chilling and inventive novel.
... 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 ... 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 Anscestor 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 ... 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, Trussoni keeps you glued to the page with her vivid descriptions, lyrical prose and inviting mysteries ... 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.
The rags-to-riches theme paired with long-buried secrets and a claustrophobic setting in which monsters can hide in plain sight makes this title appealing to a wide range of readers, especially in this age of ubiquitous DNA testing.