Published by William Morrow on April 7, 2020
A bewitching gothic novel of suspense that plunges readers into a world of dark family secrets, the mysteries of human genetics, and the burden of family inheritance.
It feels like a fairy tale when Alberta ”Bert” Monte receives a letter addressed to “Countess Alberta Montebianco” at her Hudson Valley, New York, home that claims she’s inherited a noble title, money, and a castle in Italy. While Bert is more than a little skeptical, the mystery of her aristocratic family’s past, and the chance to escape her stressful life for a luxury holiday in Italy, is too good to pass up.
At first, her inheritance seems like a dream come true: a champagne-drenched trip on a private jet to Turin, Italy; lawyers with lists of artwork and jewels bequeathed to Bert; a helicopter ride to an ancestral castle nestled in the Italian Alps below Mont Blanc; a portrait gallery of ancestors Bert never knew existed; and a cellar of expensive vintage wine for Bert to drink.
But her ancestry has a dark side, and Bert soon learns that her family history is particularly complicated. As Bert begins to unravel the Montebianco secrets, she begins to realize her true inheritance lies not in a legacy of ancestral treasures, but in her very genes.
I love moody, gothic suspenseful stories, and this cover and synopsis certainly drew my attention.
I loved that the story didn’t take too much time to really get going, and one of my favourite things about it was the setting: the cold, isolated, rundown estate in the Alps. Things were definitely strange and there were secrets that Bert had to uncover, which certainly created a fantastically dark, creepy atmosphere while I read.
This lost me though around the big family secret reveal and most of what came after. It was interesting, but it had an air of unreality to me that was difficult to reconcile with what had come before. So I think your enjoyment of this one will depend on whether or not you buy into the second half of the story, which I struggled to do.