Cover Image: Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic

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Member Reviews

I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was on the 2021 shortlist. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at <a href="https://rusaupdate.org/2021/02/2021-reading-list-years-best-in-genre-fiction-for-adult-readers/">
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Mexican Gothic was far creepier and captivating than I thought it would be, especially due to that eerie feeling being so suspensefully and dramatically written. The story was gruesome and twisted - playing on colonialism, race, and eugenics within the horror. While Mexican Gothic isn’t typically the genre of book that I read, I was pleasantly surprised by the writing and suspense and have since recommended it to several friends, family members, and students. The beautiful, vivid descriptions of the rotting house and family alone are worth the read. The characters are each incredibly distinct in their vileness and yet so interconnected you question whether you like any or loathe them all, with the exception of Noemi. She, you cannot help but cheer and worry for throughout the horrific, gruesome story.
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Talk about a book that makes you think about what’s behind the walls of your house. This was definitely a different genre than my normal reads and I’m so excited to share my thoughts! Set in the 1950s, this book charismatically reveals the Mexican heritage while presenting some real issues like colonization and patriarchy. 
 
The story revolves around a creepy house, High Place, that is alive and lives through the family members, creating an attraction that can’t be broken. Members can’t leave the house as it is a symbiotic relationship, they need each other. All that is challenged when the heroine of the story arrives at High Place and questions all that has existed for years. As Noemí comes to save her cousin Catalina from the clutches of High Place, she realizes that something is amiss. As you dive into this story, there are moments that will make you sick, turn all the lights on, and stand on top of your couch while trying to rush out of High Place.  
 
I love Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s writing style. It’s hard to skip words while reading this because her descriptions are so strong. She uses each word to describe not only the setting but the vibe and the mood of what you’re reading. I like to read books that not only have an international setting, but they describe the culture, old superstitions, and ancient stories. You can tell that the author has written this story from the heart to share that heritage with the reader.
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Wow! I am not sure how to even start this review…

Mexican Gothic was… so much more then what I was expecting! I was prepared for a slow burn old school gothic, but what I got was a straight up fresh dose of horror wrapped in a classic gothic candy wrapper. This was like a glorious nod to classic stories by Micheal McDowell with a Lovecraftian twist. I was not ready for that at all and I absolutely loved this book! For once I find a book backed by much deserved hype and buzz.

Let’s start with the plot. You have all the great things all classic gothic novels have. Creepy family. Check. Remote location. Check. Scary older family head. Check. A scary house that is just as much a character in the story as any of the people. Check. A young women who finds herself stuck at all of the above and is in over her head. Check. Now lets add snobby racism, a family remember that needs to be rescued, and a damsel in distress role reverse. This book had all the feels! From the beginning I was absolutely captivated by the plot. Already on the edge of my seat from the first chapter. And then things get CRAZY. Mexican Gothic was a real whisker twister.

There is some really great atmosphere in this book and some really disgusting visuals to be had. I loved it. This needs to be a movie stat. Not Hollywood, but Netflix could do it proper. It took me a few days to let everything really sink in and I’m still just sitting here going “WHOA.” So much fun. I will definitely be re-reading this again and again. I pretty much already want to and I just finished it the other day! I will be recommending this one in book clubs and online groups for a long time. So good!
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Noemi is sent by her father to check on her cousin Catalina who sent them a letter that sounded a little off asking for help. Catalina is living in a house called High Place outside of a small town in Mexico. Noemi hasn't seen Catalina or her husband, Virgil, since their wedding. Turns out High Place is Virgil's family home. They live there with a handful of relatives and a few servants.
The house is dark and foreboding. It's perfect for a gothic tale. There is electricty, but not every fixture has a bulb. They make liberal use of candles and oil lamps. There is mold and fungus throughout the house staining the wallpaper and eating at the books. Curtains are kept shut. No smoking is allowed. And quiet is enforced at the dinner table. The state of the house reflects the inner lives and conditions of the house's occupants.

Noemi is an unlikely heroine being a 1950s socialite and used to being the life of the party. She is close to Catalina. Catalina has always been more reserved, but her current state is not what Noemi has become accustomed to expect from her. The more I read the more I rooted for the girls. 

The pace of the book is slow at first as Noemi settles into the house. The longer she is there, the faster the pace becomes. By the end it is really flying.

There are several things that some people may find triggering: unwanted sexual advances, near rape, gaslighting, eugenics, incest, and cannibalism. The book only has these things generally in small amounts.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. It's well-written. Really is gothic. I found Noemi to be an interesting character. The twists towards the end are surprising. My only complaints were how slow it is at first; and I could have done without the cannibalism. Otherwise this is really a good gothic book. 

Mexican Gothic By Silvia Moreno-Garcia was published June 30th, 2020 by Del Rey.
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I totally understand the polarizing reviews on this one. I enjoyed it, but went into it wanting more of a gothic atmosphere than was provided. I also thought this one would be more frightening than it was, making it feel like a bit of a letdown. I want to read more from this author, but this one was a bit of a womp for me.
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Creepy house. Plucky heroine. Mysterious illness. Mist. Mind control. Ghosts. Colonialism. Eugenics. Mushrooms. Body horror.

Trust no one, and burn it to the ground!
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Originally pubbed in print LOCUS July 2020


Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey 978-0-5256-207-85, $27.00, 320pp, hc) July 2020.

Noemí Taboada is a flighty but intelligent young socialite in 1950 Mexico City. Perhaps she’s growing out of her capriciousness, though. She seems focused on a career in anthropology and is determined to live up to family duty and her father’s trust. Her recently married cousin Catalina has written Noemí’s father a distressing letter stating her husband is poisoning her, ghosts and other evils beset her. She pleads for Noemí to come save her. Noemí journeys to the hinterlands of El Triunfo, a former mining town, to investigate. Our plucky heroine arrives at High Place, the moldering foreboding Doyle family mansion high in the foggy mountains. The Doyles, who once mined silver, have fallen on hard times, but that hasn’t affected their sense of superiority. The weird family Catalina has married into gets even weirder when Noemí meets its ancient patriarch, Howard Doyle, the father of Catalina’s handsome husband Virgil. Howard immediately launches into distasteful sentiments about eugenics. Virgil’s cousin, Florence, is in charge of the house and makes Daphne du Maurier’s sinister Mrs. Danvers look sweet and accommodating. Her son, meek Francis, is nothing like his sexy relative Virgil, but he is the only Doyle who is touched by Noemí’s considerable charms. Catalina does seem to be ailing from more than the diagnosed tuberculosis and may need psychiatric care. Her doctor (the family’s personal physician, Arthur Cummins), however, refuses to see that anything is mentally amiss. The plot thickens, bubbles, boils, and generally brews into a great (and subversive) gothic horror romp. Mexican Gothic has all the right ingredients: the romantic, fairytale-loving victim-bride; an uber-creepy cursed family with a malevolent mansion whose mysteries grow more bizarre by the page; isolated geography that obscures and ensnares; a cemetery of buried secrets; an unlikely hero; a village wise woman; foul fungi, and much more. Noemí is the perfect gothic heroine: beautiful, smart, and spunky but hardheaded enough to ignore all the signs to escape when she can. Like a Hitchcock heroine, she has a fabulous wardrobe and the ability to explore overgrown graveyards and navigate dusty village roads in high heels and full-skirted dresses to die for. The novel also offers a taste of Mexican history, folklore, and a glimpse of Mexico City elites circa 1950. A dark and delectable concoction readers can’t help but relish.

–Paula Guran
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I loved this spooky read. The writing, the pacing, the setting. The house was a character on its own. A perfectly haunted house! It was everything I wanted in a book with Gothic in its title. I look forward to reading more by the author.
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This creepy, spooky book really lived up to its name. A great, dreadful story, with horrifying, fantastic eldritch elements, ans loads of good references to other books dealing with the horrors of sexism and racism.
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Set in the 1950's, a young free-spirited socialite travels to a remote Mexican countryside to visit her cousin and her cousin's new English husband and his family.  Her cousin's letters have been quite concerning, and Noemí worries over her cousin's health and sanity. Noemí is quite out of place at High Place, with her fancy dresses and debutante air. High Place is rather dark and damp with strict rules in place. The servants seems listless and withdrawn. It is clear she is not welcome. Even the house is unwelcoming, invading her dreams with nightmarish images. The ancient patriarch who has taken a particular interest in Noemí, makes her feel extremely uncomfortable. Noemí finds a sympathetic ally in the family's youngest son, Francis, only he holds tight onto his family's secrets. Noemí knows she must uncover the truth in order to save her cousin--and herself. 

Mexican Gothic is an imaginative and atmospheric tale with an underlying tension that builds with each turn of the page and eventually grabs hold of the reader and will not let go. Mexican folklore as well as  the history of the region are woven throughout, adding to the richness of the story. It was especially interesting to see how the author used such threads to weave together the history of High Place, the family's mining business, the curse, and there rise and fall over the years. It was as fascinating as it was disturbing. 

Noemí is one of those characters who grew on me over time. She is clever and smart and does not give up easily. The juxtaposition of the life Noemí leads normally to the life she suddenly finds herself in at High Place is a study in contrast of culture and lifestyle. The imagery and detail Silvia Moreno-Garcia uses paints such a vivid impression of the setting and characters. I found the novel to be at times sad and other times horrifying. This is one of those books I do not want to say too much about because the experience is in reading it. I did not find Mexican Gothic to be a fast paced read, but rather one I wanted to take my time with and savor.
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Mexican Gothic is such a remarkable read. It's fabulous. Garcia's writing is so unique, its fits the story so well.
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I absolutely adored this book! It was out of this world and completely different than anything I’ve ever read. The suspense of what was going to happen had me at the edge of my seat. I cannot recommend this book enough!
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I was so happy to end my October with Mexican Gothic. A slow burn gothic horror story, brought me to a place in my reading life that I loved. I was always so scared to read the horror genre in years past, but it was so much more than blood and gore, but more of a dark and perfectly paced, chilling read.

As one who is fairly new to classic Gothic stories, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I discovered was a beautiful rich story woven with so much atmosphere in the writing, which I would imagine is not always an easy task for the author.

*thank you Del Rey publishing and Netgalley for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own
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One of the first horror books I read, and I wasn't disappointed. One word: HORROR. Silvia Moreno-Garcia has a way with her words, I can't quite describe it, but WOW. Left me captivated!
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The perfect gothic adventure as the weather gets colder. The author does a great job of instilling the dread and panic of not only being trapped in a house, but trying to fit in somewhere where you're clearly not welcome. The willful heroine is who you would want to be in this situation.
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So I slept through the night and I think ultimately I will give this a 4 star rating. This wasn't so much of a horror rather than just plain disgusting on several accounts lol. I was baffled by that reveal and the worse it got as the story went on. I wasn't a fan of Noemi at first, but she grew on me with her sass against Virgil and his family. Catalina was strange, but once the reveal happened it made sense. Francis was the nicest of all the crazy people there. The High Place was sickening to me. Howard is a crazy old man. 

This books talks about incest and sexual assault so if that's triggering then you might not like this.

I wouldn't personally say this is horror but rather psychological thriller with supernatural elements. The writing was everything! Silvia's writing is always so well done and atmospheric. I definitely felt the house was it's on world. Beautiful writing as usual for her.
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This is an excellent book. It's everything I wanted - well-drawn characters, a spooky mansion, mysterious mind invasions, and a suitably dramatic denouement. I could really envision what was happening to Noemí, and the atmospheric nature of the setting and her fight against it to save her personality and her soul were written absolutely perfectly. I absolutely adore this book.
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*received for free from netgalley for honest review* Yikes! and ew and yikes again! took a little bit for me to get into it but wild book for sure lol
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Appropriately atmospheric and spooky. It's almost a cross between "The Turn of the Screw," where you question if the ghosts are real or a sign of insanity, and "Rebecca," where a woman is isolated in a large home with things going wrong more than they normally would. The book club kit with a music playlist and inspiration for the British-influenced town are wonderful bonuses that add depth to the novel.
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