"You'll get lost in the pages of this lush, entertaining story." --Ellen Marie Wiseman, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Willowbrook
Perfect for readers of Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Kate Morton, this sophisticated, atmospheric debut spins a bewitching web of ruthless ambition, family secrets, and the consequences of forbidden love, as an ambitious American actress snags the starring role in a mysterious horror movie shooting on location in a crumbling medieval castle outside Rome...
Rome, 1965: Aspiring actress Silvia Whitford arrives at Rome's famed Cinecittà Studios from Los Angeles, ready for her big break and a taste of la dolce vita. Instead, she learns that the movie in which she was cast has been canceled. Desperate for money, Silvia has only one choice: seek out the Italian aunt she has never met.
Gabriella Conti lives in a crumbling castello on the edge of a volcanic lake. Silvia's mother refuses to explain the rift that drove the sisters apart, but Silvia is fascinated by Gabriella, a once-famous actress who still radiates charisma. And the eerie castle inspires Silvia's second chance when it becomes the location for a new horror movie, aptly named The Revenge of the Lake Witch--and she lands a starring role.
Silvia immerses herself in the part of an ingenue tormented by the ghost of her beautiful, seductive ancestor. But when Gabriella abruptly vanishes, the movie's make-believe terrors seep into reality. No one else on set seems to share Silvia's suspicions. Yet as she delves into Gabriella's disappearance, she triggers a chain of events that illuminate dark secrets in the past--and a growing menace in the present... "Like Jess Walters's Beautiful Ruins, the glamour and heady indulgence of the era take center stage in this captivating, multilayered story that will keep you guessing to the end." -Susan Wiggs, # 1 New York Times bestselling author "Mystery, romance, and an enchanting cast of characters with a plucky heroine at its heart. Against the richly drawn backdrop of post-war Italy, in a castle brimming with secrets, Kelsey James explores the enduring and sometimes destructive power of love, family, and ambition." -Amanda Skenandore, author of The Nurse's Secret