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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno- Garcia @jessmapreviews

Mexican Gothic 
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Publisher: Del Rey
Publish Date: June 30, 2020
320 Pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Gothic, Horror

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.

My Review:

By now, I'm sure you've heard of Mexican Gothic - and for good reason.  This is a very atmospheric, slow burn of a "light" horror read.  So for those looking for a big scare, you're not going to get that.  But for those who are looking for that tense build up that keeps you in a goose bumpy kind of way, this will be a good one to pick up.

I'm super torn with this book.  There are elements I absolutely loved and others that just didn't quite work for me.  The atmosphere of High Place with Ouroboros motif being a part of much of the house really gave my mental image a fun place to be in.  Some of the things Neomi went through were written very poetically and I could feel the creepy crawlies coming through from her VERY vivid dream and sleep walking sequences.  This is where the book shines.  We get a very hypnotic feel during these parts and it really brings the gothic portion of this read to life.

Considering the time period, the author brings about a big metaphor for colonialism - the ruling class and mentions of the "inferior race", which, if I'm being honest, brought about a lot of "ugh, are you fucking serious" feelings... but that are true to the times so let us continue on.... 

This book is full of suspicion and darkness but it wasn't *quite* dark enough for my taste.  I truly loved Noemi as a lead character.  And when we get this type of gothic read, we surely know there are many secrets within these walls.  I do think this was a bit slow and I felt myself putting this down a couple times while waiting for something to happen.  And when it does happen, IT HAPPENS.  The last 30% really gets you there, so don't give up on this read.

If you like light horror novels with a suspense build that includes gothic style writing, this is an amazing read.  These are hit or miss for me and while the last part truly hit, the beginning left me wanting a bit.  Regardless of my mixed feelings, the author is a writer I'm keeping my eye on and I most certainly will be looking into her backlist as this was only a stepping stone for me.  Definitely give this one a go.


Jessica's Review:

It feels like it's been awhile since I've picked up a really good gothic novel. MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia has been one all over Bookstagram and I've been hearing all kinds of great reviews - that's always the tricky part before starting it. You don't want to build it up too much in your mind before beginning, but the hype is so well-deserved. The writing is so enchanting and the descriptions so vivid. Moreno-Garcia set the scene and the eerie atmosphere instantly and it transports you straight into the 1950's alongside Noemí Taboada.

Let me start out by saying, this is more of a slower burning and character driven novel. So I think that's good to know before starting - I tried to go in without knowing really anything but I would have loved knowing that. The first part felt really slow moving for me but once it picked up, then I couldn't put it down. So I highly recommend sticking with it if you have that same issue in the beginning. Don't get me wrong, I loved meeting our lead Noemí and her arriving at High Place to find her cousin, Catalina.

After receiving a very concerning letter from Catalina, Noemí's father tells her that she is to go check on her cousin and report back to him as to her mental state and if they need to intervene. Catalina had abruptly married an Englishman, Virgil, and then she was whisked away to his family's estate in the countryside of Mexico. Upon her arrival, things don't seem quite right and Noemí quickly finds herself mesmerized with the old and mysterious house, High Place.

There is something about the way that the author writes that is just so alluring. Despite the small pacing issue I had at the beginning, it was the way she was telling the story and the striking descriptions that kept me invested. An eerie tone throughout the novel, and some truly creepy moments that will send that chill down your spine that brought out the horror element. Overall, this book has earned the hype and buzz around it and I'm already looking up Moreno-Garcia's backlist of books to add to the TBR.

4 stars

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