“The future, she thought, could not be predicted, and the shape of things could not be divined. To think otherwise was absurd. But they were young that morning, and they could cling to hope. Hope that the world could be remade, kinder and sweeter.” ~ Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Page count: 301
Genre: Horror, mystery, magical realism
Published by Del Rey, 2020
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Indiana
Synopsis from the publisher
“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 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.”
Moreno-Garcia’s writing is immersive and compelling, immediately plunging the reader into the crumbling and fetid manor that is High Place.
Noemi is a well-crafted protagonist, forced to debate the despicable, backwards views of Virgil and Howard, especially those concerning eugenics and the role of women. She also has to become a sleuth in some ways, uncovering the mysterious illness of her cousin, and why the family has such strange rules, like not talking at dinner, and not leaving for long stretches.
While the setting was completely convincing — effortlessly conjuring Noemi’s en vogue 1950s fashions amidst a dark and dreary landscape — the pacing was a little slow toward the middle, where one expected to really start getting scared. Yet, when the terrifying scenes began, they hardly let up for the second half of the novel.
This dark and twisted tale will perhaps be most loved by fans of “Crimson Peak,” among other gothic inspired storylines.