The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney

‘The Invisible Ones’ is a mystery centred on a Gypsy family in England.

Rose Wood married Ivo Janko but went missing soon after the birth of their son Christo. The Janko family are one of the few remaining Romany families that still travel. Most people last saw Rose at her wedding. No one reported her missing even though she hasn’t been seen for 7 years. Now her father Leon wants to know what happened.

Leon Wood hires Ray Lovell, the head of a two man detective agency, to find out what has happened to his daughter. He has chosen Ray because Ray is half Romany. The Jankos are unlikely to talk to a non Gypsy.

The Janko extended family consists of 7 travellers and a number of others who have settled in towns. The travellers all help to look after Christo who is very ill, suffering from a genetic illness from which several family members have died. Ivo is a difficult and moody person and Ray quickly suspects that Rose is dead and Ivo is responsible. It is obvious to Ray that there are many secrets being kept by the family which has suffered so much tragedy.

The story is told in alternate chapters by Ray and JJ, a 14 year old boy who is part of the Janko family. Through the story JJ is desperate to find out who his father is and suspects that it could be his cousin Ivo.

As Ray starts to get close to the truth, he finds himself in hospital fighting for his life.

But the Janko secrets go beyond what Ray, JJ or anyone else could have imagined.


This was a wonderfully written story showing us a window into a world we would normally not see, and a struggle to save a dying way of life – that of the pure blood, travelling Gypsy.

The characters in the story were very real – flawed but beautiful. I particularly felt for Ivo, especially at the end of the story.

I’m looking forward to reading Stef Penney’s earlier novel ‘The Tenderness of Wolves’ and I hope that she writes another novel very soon.


Book Published 2011


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