By Mark Haskell
If you are looking for a captivating read this winter, look no further than Danielle Trussoni’s “The Ancestor.”
The Ancestor is the story of a woman named Bert Monte, a hero of a mysterious bloodline who gets transported to a very isolated and mountainous region of Italy and held captive in a castle. The town she travels to is called Nevenera, which translates into English as black snow.
The Montebianco castle is filled with twisting corridors, ancestral portraits, and a mysterious woman kept locked away in a secret chamber. There in the castle, Bert faced perils and hardships to uncover hidden family secrets and to search for her own identity.
She comes to understand herself and her lineage over the course of the novel. Because of this understanding, Bert acknowledges that she shares a surprising kinship with the creatures. As she discovers her links with those inside the castle and outside it, her sense of danger grows.
In the entirety of the novel, Trussoni plays with the contemporary idea and obsession with using DNA to uncover the past. Trussoni employs some implausible scientific theories to explain the nature and existence of humanoids. These humanoids are the ones that Bert gradually realizes are connected to the complicated bloodline of the mysterious Montebiancos.
What I enjoyed about this novel was imagining the primary locations where the story takes place. The characters and their story arcs, and the reconciliation of man and monster was something to enjoy as well.
Within the plot there was something new and interesting to learn about. And, the characters were very erratic and unpredictable in terms of emotion and behavior. The reconciliation of man and monster was unexpected because I was under the impression that both species had been against each other previously.
However, I was surprised when I had read that man and monster had performed interspecies breeding. Another piece from this novel was the acceptance of self-identity. That acceptance, I feel, is essential to the healing process.
An advantage of this book is that it is not mainstream, unlike “Silence of the Lambs,” “IT”, and other infamous novels of the same genre. Popular books in this genre describe horror as original sin and how horrible things happen.
Everyday evils are spun to show its face and its literally corroded heart into something dramatic and imaginative.
This novel is given the label of horror, that is undeniable.
The horrors of this book are the supernatural beings called many names but well known as a Yeti.
Another element of horror within this book were the darkest secrets that the house of Montebianco and its inhabitants were keeping from each other.
Alberta had not known her family’s deepest and darkest secrets all of her life until the climax of the novel, and therefore the Montebianco line continues with her child. Her child has inherited the white hair, pale skin, and blue-eyed complexion of Vita, the eponymous Ancestor.
An advantage of this book was that it is not all about bloodshed. This novel was well-written and not defined by the jump-scares, bloodshed, death and destruction. This novel addresses the fear of the unknown and becoming one with your true identity.
What I did not enjoy about this novel was the pace at which the story was written and worded. When I read this story, I was expecting a faster narrative pace to communicate a sense of urgency, meanwhile bringing the fright that other horror novels would provide to the reader.
What this novel and its narrative pace brought me was some slight boredom. However, I maintained interest and finished the book.
If I could give this novel a rating, I would give it a solid B.