The House of Whispers – Anna Mazzola

Published By: Orion
Pages: 268
Released On: 06/04/2023

Rome, 1938.

As the world teeters on the brink of war, talented pianist Eva Valenti enters the house of widower Dante Cavallera to become his new wife.

On the outside, the forces of Fascism are accelerating, but in her new home, Eva fears that something else is at work, whispering in the walls and leaving mysterious marks on Dante’s young daughter.

Soon she starts to wonder whether the house itself is trying to give up the secrets of its mysterious past – secrets that Dante seems so determined to keep hidden.

However, Eva must also conceal the truth of her own identity, for if she is discovered, she will be in greater danger than she could ever have imagined…


I’ve only read one Anna Mazzola book before, which was The Clockwork Girl, which I found to be really excellent, and I was excited that I’d discovered this fabulous author.

However, The House of Whispers did not live up to the greatness of that book, sadly.

It took me a long time to get into. It wasn’t bad, but the tone wasn’t quite what I was expecting, and so my head had to get into the story a bit more.

I’ve seen some reviews that compare it to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I haven’t read anymore than the first dozen pages of Rebecca, but I can see why people say that, but I felt it fell short of that classic.

It felt very much about the fascists and the impending war and the politics around that than about the creepiness and the thriller I was expecting.

It just didn’t feel like one novel. The first half was very much about the lead up to war, and then suddenly it becomes a bit more gothic, but it never seems to hold onto that. I’d hoped it was going to be this creepy, tantalizing, thrilling gothic piece, but it doesn’t get into the groove. It starts to, something creepy will happen, but then it will stop as quickly as it started. And this could have felt unnerving, like it was drip-feeding us thrills, but for me, these bits just felt out of place.

There were also a number of typos. Not necessarily enough to ruin it – as a proofreader by trade I tend to notice these things – but there were enough for me to stop and take notice. Which is concerning seeing as this is a published book, rather than one still going through the edits. But like I say, I imagine most people won’t even notice them.

I am on the fence when it comes to ambiguous endings. Some books it really works, and others just feel unfinished. And I’m afraid I felt this fell into the latter category. Almost like she wasn’t quite sure what or who to blame for the creepy goings-on and so she just left it for us to decide and so it didn’t feel like quite a complete ending.

It’s not a bad book. It’s pleasant to read, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. A bit confusing and all over the shop and really not what the synopsis suggests. It suggests a gothic thriller with a backdrop of WW2, but it’s more a book about WW2 with the odd weird moment.

I hate writing a less than positive review of this, as I think her writing is generally very good, and from what I’ve seen on her Twitter feed (with which I frequently interact), she is a really lovely lady. But this book just didn’t hit the mark for me. Having said that, I did finish it in two days, which is a plus, because if I really dislike a book, I don’t bother finishing it, so there was clearly something that kept me going.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. Did it live up to what I was expecting? Not quite.

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