Title: Mexican Gothic
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Age Range: Adult
Genre(s): Horror, Historical Fiction
Add to Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | 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.
TW/CW: gaslighting, domestic abuse, attempted sexual assault, talk of past sexual assault (no depictions on page), racism, discussion of eugenics, incest, body horror, gore, murder, attempted murder
I remember starting to see this book everywhere towards the end of the summer and originally tried reading it back in August. Unfortunately, I didn’t really like it, and DNFed it around the 50-page mark.
I considered revisiting it during the spooky season and after hearing Riley Marie talk about it in a recent video, I was excited to give it a second chance.
Wow, I’m glad I did because this book y’all.
This is a book I recommend going into a blind as possible, as figuring out what the hell was going on was part of what kept me intrigued.
We follow a girl named Noemí who gets a letter from her cousin and her cousin claims that her new husband is poisoning her. Noemí goes to her cousin’s new home and tries to figure out what’s going on.
While reading the first half of the book, I definitely agree with other reviewers that it’s incredibly slow. I wouldn’t say that nothing happened, but it took around the half-way mark before I was fully hooked.
Noemí had to experience several uncomfortable things in this book from casual racism and talk of eugenics to some horrifying dreams where she is sexually assaulted. The most horrifying part of the dreams (at least for me) was the idea that you didn’t know if the events were actually happening or not. One of the horror tropes that gets me every time is an unreliable narrator or the idea that you don’t know what is or isn’t actually happening.
As this book progresses, I found myself trying to guess what was going on, but also trying not to guess as it was just so bizarre. I will tell you, I guessed part of what was going on but did not have any idea what it was leading up to.
I absolutely loved how bizarre this book ended up being! One of the things that can easily kill my enjoyment for a thriller or horror book is a fantastic build-up but little to no payoff. This book did not disappoint. It committed to the weird and it really worked.
As for horror elements, there was a great blend of fantastical horror elements and elements grounded in realism. From the family talking about eugenics and ~fitness~ to the themes of sexual assault to the body horror it was a fantastic sensory experience that really sucked me in. I was listening to the audiobook during my workday and purposely stopped around 100 pages from the end so I could follow along and really get engrossed in the story.
As much as I want to do a spoiler corner and talk about the ending of this book, I’m not going to as I don’t want to spoil anyone. This book was just so bizarre and so off the rails that it was definitely worth the hype.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a book for everyone. I can totally see why some people may not want to power through the slow first half or may be put off by the body horror or some of the themes. But if you’re a fan of The Yellow Wallpaper with slightly more fantastical and bizarre elements, this one is worth checking out.