Mexican Gothic Review

  • Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Horror/Historical Fiction
  • No. of pages: 352
  • Dates read: 29.07.2021 – 31.07.2021
  • Star Rating: 5 stars

Plot: 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 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 Noemí’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. 

WOW! What a book! This was a book that was super hyped on Book Twitter and I saw it in a shop one day and decided I was going to see what all the hype was about and I am SO glad that I did.

I have read many a historical mystery in my life. It’s one of my favourite genres to read. I heard it had all those elements plus elements of horror. Now, I haven’t read much horror in my life, I’ve seen horror movies but not read many horror books, so this was a little bit out of my comfort zone. Was it going to be too much for me? Was it not going to be as enjoyable? Those were the main questions floating in my brain as I started to read it.

The writing itself was super beautiful. I loved the way Moreno-Garcia balanced writing a setting and atmosphere where it’s all normal but something in the back of your mind is telling you something is off. I felt it was super effective because I couldn’t stop reading this book. Her writing just drew me in with each sentence. I really enjoyed her narrative voice as Noemí, Noemí really represented the reader and was able to be the reader’s voice in this novel. But my favourite part was Moreno-Garcia’s descriptive writing the way she is able to describe a setting or a building etc. was incredible and that really helped the horror elements in her novel because you picture so clearly what is happening on the page thanks to her incredible writing.

The plot was so good! Like I said I have read many a historical fiction mystery novel in my time so going into this I knew I was going to at least have a good time. I love a good Manor House setting and a mystery that is slow to unravel. So, I was enjoying myself immensely during this plot. That being said, many theories were circulating through my head in how the ending was going to pan out and while I was on the right tracks no-one and I really mean NO-ONE would be able to predict where the second half of this story goes. I love things that are super out of the box and unexpected and this was all of that! The second part is definitely a marmite situation I believe you’re either going to love it or hate it, based on all the reviews I have read, and I loved it.

My favourite character by far was, of course, Noemí. She was the bright light in the dreary, depressing house that is High Place. She was a breath of fresh air in this novel. I loved her determination, the steadfastness and her willingness to break the rules. Her love for her family is super strong through this novel and I really enjoyed that. But her character was then paired really well with characters like Virgil and the other Doyle family members who at times you think you know who they are but you never really know where you stand with them. I feel that that juxtaposition between characters was really effective for the story.

I mean there are more things about this book that I could praise but that would be entering spoiler territory but all I want to say is if you want to read a historical fiction mystery with horror elements set in 1950’s Mexico with themes of colonisation and family. READ THIS BOOK! Strong female characters, beautiful gothic scenes. It’s so good!

The next book I will be reviewing is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum with a fantasy comedy called Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett.

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