Books

Review – Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Feature image

Book Title: Mexican Gothic

Book Description: From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a reimagining of the classic gothic suspense novel, a story about an isolated mansion in 1950s Mexico -- and the brave socialite drawn to its treacherous secrets. He is trying to poison me. You must come for me, Noemí. You have to save me. After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find -- her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough, smart, and has an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom. Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Book Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Book Format: Hardcover

Publisher - Orgnization: Del Rey

Publisher Logo:

Date published: 2020-06-30

Number Of Pages: 352

Overall
10/10
10/10
  • Writing - 10/10
    10/10
  • Plot Development - 10/10
    10/10
  • Overall - 10/10
    10/10
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Summary

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is back with her second novel of the year. In Mexican Gothic, she brings her incredible talent to an anti-patriarchal perspective on the creepy house trope.

 

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

 

Trigger Warning: this novel contains a depiction of sexual assault.

Mexican Gothic is a historical horror novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. It’s Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s sixth full-length novel, and her second this year. Her debut thriller novel, Untamed Shore came out earlier this year, and we reviewed it. In Mexican Gothic, Moreno-Garcia triumphantly returns to speculative fare.

In 1951 Mexico City, Noemí Taboada was a bright and charming socialite, doing mostly what she pleased. One day, her father alerts her to a rambling, disturbing letter from her beloved cousin Catalina, who had just recently married. The gist of the letter was this: “He is trying to poison me. You must come to me, Noemí. You have to save me.” Alarmed by this missive, Noemí goes to her cousin’s new home, High Place (that’s not a creepy name at all, it’s fine!) to find out what’s wrong with Catalina and rescue her if needed. When Noemí arrives, she discovers that the situation was much worse than she imagined.

Plot Development

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcis
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcis

When reading something with a horror element, there’s always a chance that the protagonist will seem too ignorant of the danger. This is different than watching a horror movie: it’s fun to yell “get out, you idiot!” when you’re watching a movie. Nor can the protagonist be too aware of the danger: if they figure out exactly what’s going on, they’re likely to split before the climax.

Moreno-Garcia wrote Noemí in a way that straddled the extremes of ignorance and genre-savvy. Noemí noticed that Catalina’s in-laws were off, but she didn’t initially attribute that to supernatural means (why would she?). Instead, she thought the main issue was their eugenicist attitudes and strange demeanor (she’s not entirely wrong either). When the situation starts getting worse, there are good reasons for her to remain. For one thing, she’s not going to abandon her beloved cousin to this terrible fate.

Catalina can’t leave easily: since she’s married (to a white man) she doesn’t own her own life. This is within living memory: Mexican Gothic only takes place 69 years ago. It’s also clear that while Noemí is privileged in some ways (wealth), someone who isn’t white and isn’t a man is going to be taken less seriously in this remote location. She has to find a way to conquer the evil: she can’t run away.

Conclusion – Mexican Gothic Won’t Let You Go

If your favorite classic novel is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, you should check out this book. Moreno-Garcia’s take on the creepy house trope is interesting and thought-provoking, in ways that would be a spoiler to mention in this review. It’s also a fun read for the current moment. Even though it’s a bad idea to leave your house, at least you don’t have Noemí’s problems.

I received this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I loved Mexican Gothic. Even though it’s a slow burn (by design), I couldn’t put it down for the last two-thirds of the book. This is a great place to start with Moreno-Garcia’s work, as was Gods of Jade and Shadow last year. Moreno-Garcia is a fantastic writer, and all her books contain an innovative perspective. Once you pick this book up, it will hold you in its grip.

If you’re considering buying this book, please remember local stores. While you may not have a store local to you, many people’s local stores are shipping around the country. Here is a list someone compiled regarding open bookstores. If you can’t decide between bookstores, you can buy from Barnes and Noble (important to the book market, even if it is a franchise) or from Bookshop.org

Have you been excited to get lost in Mexican Gothic? Talk about it with us on social media!

 

 


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About the author

Siobhan Dempsey

Siobhan needs books to function, and therefore can infodump quite a lot about them, particularly when they're either science fiction or fantasy.

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