Title: Mexican Gothic
By: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Published: June 30th, 2020
By: Del Rey
Genre: Adult – Gothic Horror – Historcal Fiction – Mystery
Buy it: Book Depository
An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .
From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a novel set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.
After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed 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 and smart, with 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.
| Goodreads |
“The world might indeed be a cursed circle; the snake swallowed its tail and there could be no end, only an eternal ruination, and endless devouring.”
I really enjoyed the experience reading this book, was a wild ride! It’s very weird, I’ll not lie to you and as you progress it gets weirder and weirder, but at the same time, it’s super engaging and addictive to read, so it’s very difficult to put it down, which I loved. I think that also the plot has an unpredictable effect that makes it very difficult to guess what is happening and the author takes the plot to a very original place with a slow-paced gothic style that’s very well achieved.
In this book, we set ourselves in 1950 in Mexico and we follow Noemi, a young woman from a wealthy family from Mexico City, who lives for the glamor of the time, going to parties and celebrating with friends, but Noemi wants to continue your studies. One day her father receives a disturbing and rather worrying letter from her recently married niece Catalina, for which he asks Noemi to go to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside, to see what’s happening to her as he suspects something strange may be happening in the relationship with her husband. Once there, Noemi will find herself surrounded by rules imposed by her cousin’s husband English family, in an old house that has certainly lost its charm decades ago. But as soon as she’s there, things start to get more and more strange and uncomfortable for Noemi, and may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.
I think this book is very unique and certainly difficult to forget, there’s a lot of work put into this story and it shows, the details are wonderful and the way the plot unravels, it’s just great, I love it because it does it in a fluid and shocking way. The atmosphere I expected from this book was certainly what I got, I loved having all that gothic horror suspense, it’s one of my favorite things, also I think it’s very well achieved through the style of the author’s writing. I also really enjoyed the dark academy tone and I think it has a very unique side since the author’s style is very soft and easy to read which softens that dark tone a bit, even so, it’s slow-paced, so don’t be fooled by those 300 pages, it certainly gives you the feeling of reading a much larger book, which in this case I don’t think is a really bad thing, but rather it goes well with the tone of the plot in general and gives you time to process EVERYTHING that happens, and believe me, it’s A LOT.
It has many gory and very graphic moments, which can be shocking if you’re a sensitive person, so be careful with that. For me, the tone was very appropriate, although it does get more and more disturbing as it progresses, …it’s like those kinds of books that play a lot with suspense and horror, but in a more physical and graphic way, you know? It’s like a horror movie of those that you know there will be a lot of blood and disgusting things involved, but still, you can’t stop watching. I would definitely see an adaptation, though, because I’d love to see the characters and the overall idea come to life on screen.
As I mentioned before, I liked the author’s style a lot, this book, in particular, is slow-paced, but I still liked the style because it’s fluid and doesn’t feel heavy at all, also I think it’s SO addictive and the dialogues are pretty solid.
The whole story takes place in High Place, which is a fairly old Victorian “mansion” built on a hill in Mexican countryside & it must be one of my favorite settings that I’ve read for this type of plot, I loved the construction of the place, the descriptions are very well done. There are parts that happen in a town as well, and those are ok although not overly developed, but those on High Place are just wonderful, that house is super creepy as well as its surroundings, it even has its own graveyard and I just loved it, it’s like the perfect setting for scaring.
The characters are quite interesting and they’re very well created, I think they all have a very solid individual characteristic, and you can come to hate or love them very easily, which shows how well they’re developed. Even though we have little time to get to know them individually, I think they’re explored enough to get an idea of what role each one takes part in everything that’s happening in that house.
I loved Noemi as the main character, at first she seems like the typical daddy’s girl who has everything she wants, but this character develops brilliantly, and you meet a girl who’s not afraid to speak her mind, not even all those creepy people who live in that house, she’s a super strong and determined person, I loved her character because even though you can see her flaws like every human being, she also shows that stronger side of the Latin woman and I’m a big fan of that. I love how this character takes action all the time and that makes the plot even more dynamic and interesting.
Then another character that I would like to highlight is Francis, he’s the youngest of this family of English people, and he’s super gentle and careful, I like him a lot especially because as the plot progresses you can see everything he has to go through for living in this horrible place with his awful family and it breaks my heart, but I don’t want to say much about him because it would be too much of a spoiler, so I’ll let you figure it out for yourself.
Then I want to mention Vigil who’s Catalia’s husband, and it’s just terrifying, I felt a very bad vibe from this character from moment one, but I wasn’t prepared for what was coming.
It’s very difficult to talk about the characters without spoilers because the main point of the plot is the Doyle family, so I can’t reveal much but in short, I liked the characters, each one has its creepy touch and something strange that makes you feel immediately uncomfortable, so don’t doubt that everyone will be on Noemi’s side reading this.
Nothing can prepare you for where the plot takes you, I was definitely not ready. I didn’t know what I was going to find, because I decided not to read the synopsis before reading it, so I wasn’t sure, I supposed there would be a paranormal or fantastical touch, which happens, but I didn’t know much more and it’s just… WOW, surprising, and very unique. At the same time, I know that it will not be for everyone, it’s a unique idea but very difficult to explain and I also feel that it was difficult to understand 100%, I think you have to take your time with this book because everything happens too fast and can be quite confusing. If you like plots that get weird in a second, then you’ll love this one. As I mentioned before, I warn you that there are many scenes of explicit violence, blood everywhere, and other repulsive things, so I needed to say it so that you’ll not find something that’s not for you.
The twists are very solid and if you like many of them on a roller coaster of emotions and revelations, you’ll love this one, but I had a lot of moments where I was like “WTF …” but in the best way, you know? because I wanted to know more and more, it’s very addictive and the ending is impossible to predict, which I appreciate.
I still have a moment when I think about the plot and everything that happened in High Place, and I think “What the hell did I just read” you know? lol, but at the same time I think that’s the uniqueness of this book, all that bizarre content is the tone that the author wanted to achieve, and together with solid characters and a creepy atmosphere, I think it worked quite well!
I highly recommend this book if you want to read something for Halloween perhaps, or something quite graphic and impactful gothic horror content. Don’t expect to understand everything that happens at once because I know it sounds strange, but I think that in the end, it’s only when you begin to understand and it begins to have more coherence. I adore the ending, I think it’s open but very proper for the story and I loved it, it has something very special and is filled with feelings and uncertainties, I need to have more about these characters, I would love that! This is one of those books that you’ll love or hate, but keep your mind open and go for it, it’s a very rare unique experience, full of mystery and suspense, that manages to put you out of your comfort zone to give you a unique story that it will be very difficult to forget and impossible to explain. I really liked it, a great work by the author and I’m dying to read more in the future.