A few months ago, I stumbled upon Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia on Goodreads and it instantly caught my eye: a stunning cover? gothic atmosphere? 1951 Mexico? I’m in. I have to admit I was a little bit worried about the horror part, as I’m easily spooked, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone a bit, so.
The most I ever did in terms of horror was watching Crimson Peak with my best friend on Halloween last year and we were both so terrified that we took turns watching the movie and explained the other what was going on during all the spooky scenes (in conclusion: we are babies).
So… did Mexican Gothic terrify me? Did I enjoy it? Let’s see!
Published on June 30th 2020 by Del Rey
Genres: gothic, horror, historical fiction
Summary: An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic artistocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their 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.
While Noemí, a glamorous debutante, is an unlikely rescuer, she’s also tough and smart. She faces the English family 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 house is the family’s youngest son: 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.
MY THOUGHTS ON MEXICAN GOTHIC
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Mexican Gothic was my very first book by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and it certainly won’t be my last! While horror is a genre that I don’t usually reach from, I thought Silvia Moreno-Garcia did a good job at it and yes… I got terrified at some point.
From the moment Noemí arrived to High Place, the isolated mansion of an English family, I was so engrossed by this novel: it had such a deliciously gothic atmosphere and I couldn’t get enough out of it. Mexican Gothic is mainly set in High Place and its surroundings, the house coming more and more alive with every page as Noemí is exploring it, which made me almost feel the house’s walls closing up on me. Alongside Noemí, I felt like I couldn’t get out of the house and as I read the most chilling chapters at night, I really felt like I was there.
Mexican Gothic is rather a slow-paced read, so getting through it might be a bit of a struggle for some readers, but I thought it was definitely worth it. Sure, the first half of the book could be a bit repetitive at times, considering both the main character and the reader had to be kept in the dark as they’re trying to figure out what is going on, but I think it did a really good job at setting up the scene.
I really enjoyed where the plot went in terms of reveals in the second half: it took turns I wasn’t expecting, which I loved, and it became really gross at some point, which wasn’t as much fun for me reading at night, but was suited to a horror novel I imagine (see trigger warnings at the end of my review). I couldn’t stop reading during the last hundred pages or so: still, I have to admit that it wrapped up a little quickly for me, but I really enjoyed that plot overall.
I adored Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s writing; I think that descriptions are definitely her strong suit: from describing Noemí’s outfits (she’s a socialite, so of course she has to be best-dressed for everything) to describing a creepy mansion and its surroundings, her writing was so vivid that I could picture very clearly everything that was happening, which doesn’t happen very often for me. Because of that, I even got spooked during some of the chapters taking place in the dark, as I was reading at night, and I was so engrossed in the book (I feel like I’m easily scared, but it rarely happens when I’m reading)! Honestly, I lived for every gothic element this book gave me.
I wasn’t completely convinced by the characters: they were a bit flat for me, as most of them were pretty stereotypical, though Silvia Moreno-Garcia did a great job at making me loathe the family, which was obviously the point. I could never quite bring myself to love Noemí, because I don’t think she had that much character development throughout the course of the novel. Moreover, I really disliked that the book had a very unnecessary romance towards the end: the last chapters would have had more of an impact on me without it. To be honest, I’d rather have the book focus on Noemí and her cousin’s relationship, as she went to High Place to rescue her in the first place.
Overall, I really enjoyed Mexican Gothic: it had an amazing gothic atmosphere and it spooked me during some chapters, plus the plot took turns I didn’t expect. I adored Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s writing when it comes to description, but I wasn’t as convinced by her characters and even less by the romance. I usually don’t read horror novels, so I don’t know anything about the genre, but I went into this without expectations and really enjoyed the experience. I’m really curious to read more of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s works now!
For those interested, Silvia Moreno-Garcia did a great interview on Goodreads for Mexican Gothic.
⚠️ highlight to see the trigger warnings for this book [sexual assault, mentions of r*pe and suicide, murder, cannibalism, miscarriage, gore]
Have you ever read horror books? Are you planning to read this book? Have you read anything by Silvia Moreno-Garcia?