Title: Mexican Gothic
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre: Adult Horror/Historical Fiction/Gothic/Mystery
Release Date: June 30th 2020 from Del Rey (Penguin Random House)
Format: ARC via NetGalley
Goodreads Synopsis: An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .
From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico—“fans of classic novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca are in for a suspenseful treat” (PopSugar).
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.
**I wished for this book on NetGalley and my wish was granted by the publisher and NetGalley. But I still treat this like a normal ARC review, so all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for the review copy**
I’ve heard of this author for a few years now, due to Booktubers like Marines from mynameismarines and also other people on Goodreads. Then, the author’s previous book Gods of Jade and Shadow still gets a lot of buzz. So when I heard about this book and the fact that it’s a Gothic novel set in Mexico, I was so intrigued! While I’ve loved Gothic movies, I have hardly read actual Gothic novels. But unfortunately, I DNF’d this book at the 72% mark and I’ll explain why. But here’s the breakdown:
- Writing Style: Right off the bat, I have to say that this author is very talented! The way she creates this foreboding, not right atmosphere of the High Place mansion was great. I never trusted this creepy AF family and their cruel nature. I also didn’t know what was up with her cousin that she was trying to help. She seemed like a unreliable side character and that made it even more interesting. I also did like seeing how even though Noemí is a party girl who loves to party, ride in cars with boys and do what she wants, her attitude slowly starts to change. I like that she didn’t let any fear take over her; she would snoop around and break the rules in order to help her cousin. While I didn’t love her character, I see why the author wrote her the way she did. But since I liked her writing so much, I do want to try some of her other novels.
- Setting: The setting of this High Place mansion was crazy! I liked how dark, dimly lit and just plain creepy it was. It felt cold, frail and falling apart. I think the state of the house was great mirror to how the family her cousin married into was also falling apart. I seriously wonder if this author is Guillermo del Toro fan because I got the same vibes from the films by him that I’ve seen in this book and that was great. The dream sequences, the mentions of something watching and other things made me uneasy and not trust anything.
- Pacing: While I’m not sure if it’s just me but the pacing wasn’t great in many spots. There was a lot of the same kind of conversations, dinners and arguments that kept happening and the repetitiveness never really broke new ground or made the plot more juicy. I didn’t always want to keep reading since it was slow, with always talking about Noemí’s outfits and how horrible the family was. Nothing was really picking up until right before the point that I DNF’d it.
- Forced romance: While I haven’t finished this book, it is pretty obvious that our female protagonist is going to have a romantic with the younger family member Francis. He is the shy but kind member of the family that helps Noemí at times as she tries to uncover the mystery. I never felt any kind of chemistry to this budding romance. It felt forced to add more drama to this story but it felt forced and necessary. I think it would’ve been better if they were just allies/friends trying to find the truth. The romance is also very minimal and it was looking like that nothing was really going to happen with this “romance” until the end, past where I was put it down.
- Problematic spoiler: Now, there are two twists in this book but it’s only one of the twists that is the primary reason that I DNF’d this book. I will not say what this spoiler is but I did post in my Goodreads review. So if you don’t care to be spoiled for one of the twists, you can see my review that is hidden due to spoilers. This specfic thing is something that I this is NEVER a good plot device. It’s 2020 and I don’t think this should be used. I get that this white family is terrible and this spoiler shows one aspect of how horrible they are. But regardless, it really disgusted me and I couldn’t read anymore. I know a lot of people love this book, but I hardly see anyone talking about this spoiler. Is it just me or does anyone find something a certain plot device also problematic?
- Genre not for me apparently: With this book, I now realize that adult horror isn’t for me. Some of the imagery in this book really disturbed me and I do not do well with graphic imagery. It’s not good for my mental health. So I was shocked with some of the stuff that I read so adult horror just isn’t for me.
Overall: If this book does sound interesting to you, I would recommend it on the grounds of be aware of any content warnings before going into it. There are many reviews on Gooreads that list the content warnings so you can decide on whether to read it or not. I think the author is talented and I will read more of her books, but this book was too much and one of the spoilers really put me off and I put this book down because of that. So this was a mixed bag for me. I would also try to find own voices reviewers online as well to get their perspective as well.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? What other book by this author did you like? Let me know in the comments!