The Ancestor

Morrow. Apr. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9780062912756. $27.99.
Alberta “Bert” Monte receives a letter at her upstate New York home, claiming she is the last member of an Italian noble family. With some trepidation, she is whisked off via private jet to her ancestral castle tucked deep in the Italian Alps. The chance to escape to a life of luxury and leave a community in which she was never quite accepted. Once she arrives, however, questions about her ancestors’ dark secrets and why she is among the last survivors of this centuries-old family tree start to pile up, and her search for answers seems to be leading to monstrous ends. Told completely from Bert’s perspective, the story will sweep readers up in the awe and wonder, asking us to examine our own complicated ancestry.
VERDICT 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. Pair it with Jennifer Egan’s backlist gem, The Keep.
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