The House of Whispers

Out Now

‘A gothic tale of political and psychological terror’ – THE GUARDIAN

A Times Historical Book of the Year.


 Rome, 1938.

As the world teeters on the brink of war, talented young 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 troubled 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 face a danger even greater than whatever lurks behind the walls.

A compelling Gothic ghost story from the bestselling author of The Clockwork Girl.

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola


Read the first chapter free (click the image).

Read the first chapter free.

Praise for House of Whispers

‘A gothic tale of political and psychological terror’ – GUARDIAN


‘Mazzola builds up tension skilfully in a story that flirts with the supernatural as it moves towards a fiery conclusion’ – SUNDAY TIMES


‘An atmospheric spine-tingler’ – HEAT


‘A creepy, chilling story – another Anna Mazzola triumph!’


‘Chilling and compelling, with echoes of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca’


‘Packed with political and emotional intrigue, historically rich and deeply unsettling’


‘Absolutely brilliant. Gripping, beautifully written and properly chilling’


‘Beautiful, chilling, and darkly enchanting. Anna Mazzola is a truly gifted storyteller’


‘I ripped through The House of Whispers in double quick time’


‘Robert Harris meets M.R. James in an evocative gothic tale’


‘The sense of place is impeccable, the sense of danger truly chilling’


‘A delicately told ghost story set in the bright heat of 1930’s Italy. Claustrophobic and compelling’


Behind the scenes…

The Inspiration

The House of Whispers was inspired in part by comments from 1930’s articles which made a connection between the destructive nature of the poltergeist and the rise of Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy. Paranormal researcher Harry Price noted that ‘Both suck like vampires the energies of adolescents. Both issue in destruction, fire, noise, terror.’

Being half Italian, it made more sense for me to set my story in Italy than in Germany, and the story of Italy’s role in the lead up to and aftermath of the Second World War is less often told.

The more I read about the era, the more I realised that what happened in Italy then is once again being played out in the resurgence of far right parties across Europe. I wanted to explore what allowed Fascism to rise and what led to so many people keeping quiet and going along with the policies of such a destructive and hate-filled movement. I also wanted to look at what led those who did resist to do so, despite the huge risks to themselves and the seeming impossibility of their mission.

Psychological Gothic

I was inspired too by ‘psychological gothic’ stories such as The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Carrie by Stephen King, Beloved by Toni Morrison and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters: novels in which the characters’ suppressed feelings erupt in seemingly supernatural violence.

In all of those novels, the haunting is both real and fantasised, psychological and supernatural. Ghosts are imagined into being from emotions repressed so forcefully that they acquire their own power. It seemed to me that such emotions were likely to be heightened at a time when fascism was on the rise, war was imminent, and people had to disguise their true feelings and identities. What would the suppression of those emotions bring?

The Characters

The House of Whispers tells the story of Eva, a young Slovenian woman who was forcibly italianised as a child, as happened to many in the Italian borderlands after the First World War. In Rome, she seeks protection within a relationship with Dante Cavallera, the widowed father of one of her piano students, the talented but troubled young Chiara. Eva hopes in this way to become unassailably Italian and to protect herself from the anti-Slav and anti-foreign sentiment that was building in Europe in 1938, alongside the virulent anti-Semitism of which Eva’s friend, Mirella, is a target.

However, as the story progresses, Eva begins to fear that that the house itself is trying to give up the secrets of the past, and that what is within may be even more dangerous than the rising hatreds and gathering storm of war outside.

But don’t worry. There is also a dog: an Italian Greyhound called Zefiro.]

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