cover image The Woman in the Castello

The Woman in the Castello

Kelsey James. Kensington/John Scognamiglio, $16.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-4967-4291-9

James makes a dazzling debut with this gothic tale of intrigue and danger on a 1960s movie set in Italy. Actor Silvia Whitford is down on her luck: as a single mother, she works hard to support her toddler, Lulu, and her dying mother, and her most recent role gets canceled just after she travels to Rome to start filming. Desperate to find a solution to her money woes, Silvia pays a visit to her mother’s estranged sister, Gabriella, in her crumbling castle in a small Italian town. It’s there where Silvia’s luck turns, and she lands a leading role in a horror movie. But soon, Silvia is living a real-life horror: her aunt’s gone missing, mysterious accidents abound, and everyone—from her costars to her family members—seems to be hiding a secret of consequence. James does a fine job devising a twisting plot, culminating in a true shocker (and a fitting conclusion for one character who has a diabolic history). With its sheen of ’60s Euro glamour, this is irresistible and satisfying. James is certainly one to watch. Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Browne & Miller Literary Assoc. (Aug.)