Title: Mexican Gothic (review copy)
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre/Themes: Gothic, Historical, Horror, Suspense
Blurb from Goodreads
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.
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, mesmerised by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.
I’m basically obsessed with Silvia Moreno-Garcia now.
I adored ‘Gods of Jade and Shadow’ last year but this… I love this even more!
‘Mexican Gothic’ is just the best kind of storytelling there is.
It’s a book that is fantastically written, utterly compelling, deeply chilling and intensely creepy (good creepy though); I loved every second of it! If you’re a fan of twisty gothic fiction that will make you never want to fall asleep ever again then this is for you!
The story follows Noemí Taboada, a young woman living in Mexico in the 1950s. Her father receives a worrying letter from Noemí’s cousin Catalina who has recently been married and tasks Noemí with going to aid her cousin.
Enter High Place, the Mexican countryside house where Catalina is now residing with her in-laws, the mysterious Doyles.
High Place is the gothic house of your dreams… or more accurately nightmares.
For a start it’s isolated from society, but not in a nice escape to the country where it’s all peaceful and charming sort of fashion. Instead it’s more of an it’s so isolated so no one can hear you scream type setting.
It is shrouded in gloom with a permanently misty cemetery alongside it…FILLED with disgusting mushrooms. (I’m actually terrified of mushrooms. I find them abhorrent on so many levels. Just ick!)
The house is inhabited by the strangest of strange characters… the Doyles are all sorts of messed up! Papá Doyle basically never leaves his room. The servants don’t even look at you not to mind speak. The matriarch is all sorts of terrifying… just not the kind of family that you want to be housemates with! Catalina’s husband Virgil is hot but in a disturbing kind of way and basically he’s the type of guy that makes you feel violated from the way he looks at you. CREEPIEST OF THE CREEPIEST!
High Place is a house where silence is not just expected but demanded.
It’s a house that is filled with secrets.
It’s a house that seems to be alive with something preternatural.
And it is here Noemí must figure out what is truly going on and why it is that her beloved cousin is so deeply troubled and unwell.
The pacing in this was FLAWLESS!
The story started out deliciously slowly… like a really good teasing kind of slow. Which really helped to heighten the tension and just created a whole lot of foreboding…. that gradually kept building as more and more of the plot was revealed…
And then the pay off…
MY GOD THAT CLIMAX WAS BRILLIANT!
I had no clue how things were going to end but OMG DID THIS BOOK END WITH A BANG!
Pretty much the whole way through I was second guessing every plot development trying to figure out what was going on… and I was always wrong! I LOVE BEING SO HOODWINKED!!
And Moreno-Garcia’s descriptive writing was a joy to read. I really felt that the world of Noemí and the Doyles came alive on the page. From the chilling imagery of the house (all those descriptions of the ouroboroses decorating the house were incredibly powerful in my opinion), to the contrasting warmth of the run down nearby town and its people, to the descriptions of Noemí’s glamorous clothing confections; altogether everything conjured up a wholly immersive reading experience.
I do think that this book focuses slightly more on atmosphere and story rather than character but that in no way means that there aren’t compelling characters in this novel.
I really liked Noemí as a main character. She was so fabulously sassy and fiercely loyal to Catalina. She also was the kind of character that was defiantly headstrong and didn’t care what others thought about her which I really liked; this helped to make her feel truly authentic which was important as she needed to feel realistic to give a sense of grounding to the fantastical story. If she had been rather saccharine or bland the book would not have worked so I’m very pleased that she was a character with added bite.
And omg Virgil… I HATED HIM! But in a I loved to hate him kind of way because he was so well written. My god that character was just all sorts of disturbing and I can’t really say much more so just bravo Moreno-Garcia.
And then there was Francis. Gosh I wanted to shake him so much… in a good way I mean. Because his character arc was super compelling and I was deeply invested in his journey.
I realise I’ve given away very little about the plot but this is one of those books that it is best to go into completely blind. The joy is in the slow reveal of this unique story that is a brilliantly strange and hugely memorable mix of historical and gothic fiction with a twist of almost science fiction.
This book was simply sublime in my opinion.
I honestly wouldn’t change a thing about it, including the cover which is also perfection.
Come the end of 2020 I am absolutely positive this will be among my favourite books released this year.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Quercus/Jo Fletcher Books, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Published 30th June, 2020