CamCat. Apr. 2024. 336p. ISBN 9780744309461. $28.99. HORROR
This supernatural horror set in Italy spans generations while drilling beneath readers’ skin. Sibilla, soon to give birth, has come with her engineer husband to a mill and property he hopes to renovate. However, something haunting the land sabotages the husband’s efforts while also targeting Sibilla and her unborn child. Hundreds of years earlier, Maddalena came to the mill with her loving husband and large family. She hoped to win over the townspeople, but they were distrustful of her herbs and potions. The family was beset by incidents that tormented them, pushing them toward financial ruin and making them pariahs. The choices of Maddalena and others are destined to leave ripples that will haunt Sibilla. The story is told through two narratives: Sibilla’s tale takes place in 1933, and Maddalena’s begins in the late 1500s. Though Repetto (The Rose Master) switches rapidly between the two timelines, she slowly and deliberately builds tension in both narratives before ratcheting it up in the book’s final moments.
VERDICT Fans of Isabel Cañas’s The Hacienda and Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic will breathe in this book’s brooding atmosphere, even as its emotional punch of a climax leaves them breathless.
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