Cover Image: The Hacienda

The Hacienda

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Member Reviews

Wow! The Hacienda by Isabel Canas, is a psychological thriller. The suspense builds slowly as Beatrix starts to fear that there is something wrong with the hacienda. I love the story building and characters in The Hacienda. Solid suspense and it is hard to believe that this is Canas debut novel! What???
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Being such a big big big fan of Mexican Gothic, I was extremely excited to pick this one up. 
Unfortunately, this didn’t quite work for me. 
The beginning is way too slow. Nothing really happens and it spends way too long on the buildup, which I know is a big part of the gothic genre, but this felt too repetitive. 
The only thing that kept me reading was Padre Andres, I preferred him to the main character. 
The second half did speed up and get a little bit more interesting, but it was predictable. 
Overall, I was disappointed by this one.
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Thank you, Berkley and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC.

I had high hopes for this book after hearing the comps to Mexican Gothic, Rebecca and The Haunting of Hill House which are all books that I love.

The Hacienda is definitely a slow build but the writing and the story hooks you from the very first page and keeps your attention throughout. There was a twist in the first 100 or so pages that changed the book completely and while it did take me a little while to get used to the sudden shift, it did end up working for me. Other than that one twist that I wasn't expecting, the rest of the novel while a bit predictable was fun, eerie and a quick read.

I can safely say that The Hacienda lived up to the hype despite the unexpected curveball in the first 100 pages and I will be keeping an eye out for anything Isabel Cañas comes out with next.
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All the blurbs for this debut title leaned heavily on the "Mexican Gothic" meets "Rebecca" tagline - these always make me nervous as a would be reader, especially for a debut novelist. 

Fortunately for all involved - it wasn't hype and goodness, I loved this novel so much.

I love historical fiction, especially about a time and history I am not overly familiar with; the fallout of the Mexican Revolution in the 18th century would be one such era. Cañas weaves a suspenseful tale throughout; the house is as much a character as anyone else, and I loved the interplay of the Don's family and the citizens in the village. Beatriz's awareness and growth as a character were excellent, but it was the introduction of Padre Andrés' character that made this novel sing. Cañas allows for a beautiful, and very believable, give and take of faith, mysticism, and familial love that kept drawing me enthralled. 

I would highly recommend this title, and hope y'all enjoy it as much as I did!
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Beatriz meets Rodolfo at a dance and so goes the courtship from an encounter to getting married to Rodolfo as a means to escape her poverty. He has something she desires besides a way out, a garden within the Hacienda. Question is, at what price does she have to pay to live there, and is it worth it?

The daytime is filled with how she wants to repair the disarray of the hacienda. The night, however, she is awakened by a violent and terrifying spirit who is angry. Her husband and his sister, Juana, declare she is insane. Little does she know the history and dark secrets that embodies that house.

Spine-tingling, gothic horror that literally had me on pins and needles. I normally read at the midnight hour but this time, I had to read it earlier. 

Rich with Mexican history, forbidden love, social class, and more. A great debut novel by Isabel Cañas. Exceptional read. 

I received this copy from Berkley Publishing Group through Netgalley in return for an honest review!
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The Hacienda has been described by the publisher as “Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca”. Being a big fan of both those books I was naturally excited to read it, but unfortunately, the novel does not live up to the publisher’s hype.

Beatriz lost her home when her father was executed during the Mexican War for Independence. She and her mother have been forced to live with Beatriz’s aunt and uncle, who look down on them and mock the dark skin Beatriz inherited from her father’s side of the family. All Beatriz wants is to find a new home, a place where they will be treated with respect and kindness. In an odd twist of fate, she meets and captures the attention of the handsome and rich estate owner  Don Rodolfo Solórzano. Beatriz loves to hear him talk about his family home, La Hacienda San Isidro, and when he proposes, she ignores all the rumors surrounding his family, first marriage and estate, and eagerly accepts.

Beatriz has the choice of living in the capital with her husband while he works in the government or going to Hacienda San Isidro in the countryside and refurbishing the house, which hasn’t really been in use since Rodolfo’s first wife died years earlier. She chooses the latter – her marriage to Rodolfo is best maintained at a distance since Rodolfo and her father took opposing positions in the recent conflict. She is thrilled by the idea of remaking San Isidro into a warm, inviting sanctuary for herself and her mother.

However, her arrival at the hacienda shows her that such a project will not be easy. It is clear that Juana, a sister Rodolfo barely mentioned, is actually the one in charge at the estate. She runs the planting and harvesting, and chooses to live among the workers rather than at the main house. Juana seems to hold her brother in contempt and her attitude towards Beatriz is one of tolerant amusement, as though she expects Beatriz to run back to the city at any moment. Ana Luisa, the head housekeeper, is another who seems to scorn the idea that Beatriz will be able to revitalize and rejuvenate San Isidro. That’s because both women know what Beatriz doesn’t – there is a presence in that house. A powerful, malevolent presence.

Beatriz soon encounters her ethereal enemy, the being determined to keep the house all to itself – and it scares her. A lot. But Beatriz has no intention of yielding her hard won home without a fight. By turning to the young local priest, Padre Andrés, she is able to obtain an ally who not only can exorcise the home in the name of God but who, as a witch, is uniquely skilled in dealing with ghosts. But is he strong enough to fight the power that now reigns over San Isidro?

Gothic ghost stories rely a lot upon a few key factors. The first is ambience – while the reader knows they are about to enter the realm of the supernatural, a lot of the chilling atmosphere of the tale comes from the fact that the protagonist doesn’t and instead walks blissfully unaware into their doom. I didn’t get that sense in this story. Beatriz’s determination to claim the house for herself undermines any sense of beatific, good-hearted innocence and instead sets us up from the beginning for a fight between two strong-willed protagonists, neither of whom really has a right to what they are laying claim to.

Another vital aspect of a gothic is that the house is often a character in and of itself, and that, too, is absent here. The house seemed to me a dilapidated, haunted building that would simply be dilapidated once the ghost was exorcised. In and of itself, there isn’t much creepy about the place.

Typically, these kinds of tales are told by a single narrator. That limited perspective really adds to the sense of impending doom since we are completely tied to the story by the narrator’s own fears and anxieties. Here we receive both Andrés’ and Beatriz’s viewpoints, and at least at the start, that breaks the reader’s connection with the emotional sense of growing terror these narratives are known for.

Without these crucial elements, The Hacienda becomes little more than a ghost story, something I would classify as light horror – not as scary (nor complex)  as a Stephen King novel but definitely more dependent on the supernatural and scare factors than most gothics. I don’t typically read horror so I can’t really say how this book compares to the average story in that market. I found it readable, but I wasn’t especially interested or invested and again, that could have been simply because this genre tends not to be my cuppa.

There is a romance here and I frankly didn’t like it at all. Again, this is not so much a negative in the writing as a personal preference. I have no problem with women marrying for money – for centuries this was one of the few ways we could obtain it – but Beatriz makes it clear from the start that Rodolfo is a means to an end (having a home of her own) and doesn’t even try to make a go of her marriage. It seemed almost cruel. The author employs the ‘he’s bad anyway’ solution later in the plot but I didn’t buy it. Also, while I understood that personality-wise, Beatriz’ affair with Padre Andrés makes sense – they seem a natural fit for each other – given the circumstances they were facing, it seemed odd that they took time out to fall in love. Their romance just isn’t a necessary or positive inclusion to the plot.

On the plus side, the characterization of both Andrés and Beatriz is done fairly well. We get a strong sense of who they are as people and the factors that formed them. Their strength of will is thoroughly examined and shown as easily a match for that of the ghost, which is vital to the story since the specter is so strong and malevolent. The secondary characters needed a bit more fleshing out, though, especially since the plot hinges upon many of them.

The author does a good job of making the back story very clear, which I appreciated. There are no mysteries left when this tale ends.

In the end, The Hacienda was a mixed bag. Clear prose, a concise and cleanly explained plot, and a strong male/female lead were all definite positives but the poor secondary characterizations and the lack of crucial gothic elements were disappointing. If you’re a big fan of ghost stories this might be a match for you, otherwise, I would give it a miss.
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This book was sumptuously spooky; I loved the constant descriptions of the house as a living thing, with the personification details working on just about every level. It's no secret that I've been reading a lot of gothics lately (interspersed with my recent romances of choice) and this one hit the spot in a very strong way — in part, due to the non-European setting, which breathed new life into a relatively classic conceit, but also because the story was just so effectively engaging. At one point, I was so engrossed in reading that I literally jumped courtesy of a stray and completely harmless noise outside, which to me is the mark of a great horror novel. Like the titular hacienda, this book will draw you in and keep you spellbound, even as the shadows slowly begin to creep in at the corners. Bonus points for a hot priest, to boot!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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An absolutely stunning debut! Rich, provocative prose, complex world building, and a spine tingling premise. I was hooked from the first page to the last, and this genre of fiction is not normally my cup of tea. I look forward to reading whatever Isabel Cañas decides to write next!
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I love gothic fiction when it's done well! This book was deeply researched and provided insight about Mexican history I didn't know about. It was also grisly and scary and romantic and adhered to gothic tropes in lots of fantastic ways. I don't want to say too much about the plot because it unfolds marvelously. This was a real treat for anyone who's looking for gothic fiction that finds horror in something the traditional gothics did not, in this case colonialism.
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THIS BOOK! This book was at the top of my TBR list for months. The second I read the description, I KNEW this book would be right up my alley! It’s been described as a cross between Rebecca and Mexican Gothic, both of which I loved for different reasons and I think this is absolutely an accurate description of the story. I would also recommend it to anyone who loves Simone St James—-if you love her ghost stories, you will love this book!

I wanted to bust into this book the second it came in the mail, but I held off until it was a little closer to the release day. And let me just tell you that was so hard! I loved the book so much, that I also downloaded the Audible version so I could compare how reading the story was different from listening to it. Personally I liked the Audible version better but reading it was just as exciting.

This book has been on many many top recommended lists and also was featured on Book of the Month. I can say with absolute conviction that this book was absolutely worth all the hype. I loved how rich it was with folklore, religion, and socioeconomics of the time period. This is much more than just a ghost story or a horror story—it had a lot of topics that I think would also work for book clubs. This is the rare book that really works for a lot of people even if you are not a fan of horror or ghost stories.

Summary
Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches…

In the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father is executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.

But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark its doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?

Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will help her.

Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness. 

Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom. (summary from Goodreads)

Review
I can easily say this is the best book I have read all year. I know that it will be hard to top this one for me. It was so good, and had just the right amount of creepiness and suspense. I loved how intertwined folklore was with the Catholic religion in the region. This story involves a priest who is also a witch, during a time when the Inquisition was dominating much of Mexico. There was a lot of caste issues during this time within the people and I just loved reading about this rich and relatively unknown time period in Mexico to me. I know only the basics of Mexican history so diving into this one, the history provided a rich and exciting landscape for me to explore. I loved how closely folklore and religion worked together, it was just so so good for this reason alone.

The ghost story was definitely more graphic in nature than just a ‘haunted house’. There was a little more—-I hesitate toe say gore, but maybe more descriptions of the ghost and the nature of her being. I loved how the house and the ghost were separate entities but yet were tied together in a supernatural way. Fans of horror/ghost stories will find that this book has a great balance with those elements but it’s not so graphic and terrifying that people are are not fans of horror will be turned off. All around I think the ghost story was fantastic and I loved watching how it evolved and changed as the story went on.

This one also had an unexpected romance part to it and I just LOVED how that came about. I don’t know that I loved how it ended, but ultimately it was really fitting and intentionally open. I loved Andres as not only a romantic interest but as the hero. He was a well developed and thought out character. Pairing him with Beatriz who is herself strong and scrappy, was such a great match. I loved them together and watching them come together romantically was surprising and satisfying. This book was EASILY 5 stars for me and I cannot wait for more books by this author! If they are even a TINY bit like this one then I know they are going to be good! This author has earned an auto buy status from me!

Book Info and Rating
Format: Hardcover and Audible 352 pages

Published: May 3rd 2022 by Berkley Books

ISBN: 9780593436691

Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 5 stars (can I give it more?!?)

Genre: horror, ghost story, historical fiction
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A hauntingly beautiful and impressive debut, The Hacienda is about loss, freedom, and Mexico, post-War for Independence.⁣
⁣
Isabel has a gift when it comes to atmospheric, poignant storytelling. This world is rich, breathtaking, and absolutely terrifying. Their writing is vivid, immersive, and haunted. The scares chill you down to the bone, and will have you jumping out of your skin at the smallest of sounds.
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There are no swooning heroines to be found here, either – Beatriz is willing to meet society’s expectations to a certain extent, and this woman is a survivor to the core. Rather than submitting to a slow descent into madness or peril, she acknowledges and refuses to accept the first stages of a home that is out to get her. ⁣
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Laughter and whispers in the night? Cold patches in the home and visions of nightmarish ghosts? Simply unacceptable! Beatriz jumps into action – and it’s so engaging to see a heroine with that kind of backbone and agency.⁣

Overall, this was an incredible story with strong, haunting characters, and I cannot wait to see more from Isabel.
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I loved this atmospheric, moody, gothic story. I was instantly drawn into the book and couldn't put it down. Perfect for those who like seeing houses as characters, a little bit similar to Mexican Gothic.
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The Hacienda is a horror novel by Isabel Cañas that follows the newly married Beatriz as she moves into her husband's hacienda. Although she expects it to be a refuge from the tragedies that have recently befallen her in life, Hacienda San Isidro turns out to be her biggest problem of all. She is desperate to find help as she deals with the haunted and increasingly dangerous hacienda and the family that owns it. 

This book is described as a cross between Mexican Gothic and Rebecca, two favorite books of mine, and I absolutely understand the comparisons. As a person who hates scary TV and films, I'm always surprised to find that I have no issue with it in books. Cañas has done an excellent job weaving character development, suspense, and magical realism into this deliciously creepy and fun read.
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Debut? Really? Amazing lyrical writing, masterful imagery, and massive creep factor. I love a book with a creepy house as a main character.  It isn't always done well - Canas writing and portrayal of the Hacienda breathtaking.  
Beatriz has suffered - the death of her father forcing her and her mother onto the charity of an uncle, and a hateful aunt. Desperate to escape and build a life, Beatriz marries Don Rodolfo - and brought to Hacienda San Isdoro. 
The Hacienda echoes with the voices of generations- but the first wife of Rodolfo wreaks havoc,  her spirit causing incredible terror. 
With her husband in the capital, Beatriz begs for help. Answered by Padre Andres. As his grandmother's heir, Andres quietly assists his community- and comes to focus on Hacienda San Isdoro.
Great story, rich with local history and traditions.
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Beatriz lost everything in the overthrow of the Mexican government, including her father and home. When a handsome, wealthy man with a sizable estate in the country proposes, Beatriz quickly accepts. But once she arrives at Hacienda San Isidro, she finds her new home isn’t the safe haven she hoped. Beatriz is haunted by strange voices and visions, and no one will help her. Could the death of her husband’s first wife have something to do with her terrifying new reality?

SO GOOD. The historical elements. The horror. The characters. The tension! I couldn't put it down! (Although I had to a few times because it was too scary. I'm a chicken.) I love love love this book and can't wait to read whatever Isabel Cañas writes next.
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Good fast-moving Gothic tale with lots of atmosphere and creepiness.  Beatriz marries Rodolfo for financial security after her father is executed and she and her mother are left penniless.  But the house contains secrets and Beatriz is haunted by visions, footsteps walking above, and her creepy sister-in-law.  Add to that the fact that Rodolfo's previous wife died in a mysterious way that no one wants to talk about.  Beatriz finds she must fight the evil spirit of the house and enlists a local priest, who happens to be a witch, to help her.  If your looking for a good creepy supernatural book, this one does not disappoint.  Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy.
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Oh man. I am desperately in need of more Central/South American Gothic horror in my life! The Hacienda bills itself as Rebecca meets Mexican Gothic and that is absolutely correct. There's the mysterious new husband. The grand estate in the country. And the new bride, completely unprepared for what awaits her in her new household. Secrets! Ghosts! Pulque! A hot priest who I imagine would be played by Diego Luna or Gael Garcia Bernal! If you're in need of a spooky (but not too spooky) gothic horror romance set on an early 19th century Mexican hacienda, then you NEED this book. It's absolutely fantastic.
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**4.5-stars rounded up**

After her father is killed in the Mexican War of Independence, Beatriz and her mother are forced to move in with her mother's family who had previously disowned her. They're cruel and haughty about Beatriz and her mother's now tenuous situation within the community. It's not good. Therefore, when handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes to Beatriz, she jumps at his offer. This could be their opportunity to climb back up the social ladder. 

Beatriz would be the lady of Solórzano's countryside estate and with that will come the security she's been craving. Many people marry for reasons other than love. It's the 1830's. How bad could it be anyway?

Unfortunately, after arriving at Hacienda San Isidro, Beatriz finds that it isn't quite what she expected. Still she remains optimistic. If she pours love into the large estate hopefully she'll be able to breathe some new life into it and then move her mother in as well.

Rodolfo swiftly returns to work in the capital, leaving Beatriz to fend for herself with just the staff and his abrasive sister, Juana, for company. Under these circumstances, it doesn't take long for Beatriz to realize that there's something really off about this hacienda. Beatriz begins hearing voices, having terribly vivid nightmares and constantly feels like she is being watched. She wouldn't consider herself a nervous person, but this goes beyond anxiety inducing.

Beatriz fears the hacienda is haunted and she suspects that perhaps the first Dona Solórzano is to blame. How did she die exactly? No one seems willing or able to give her a straight answer on that. Pushed to her limits, Beatriz knows she needs to figure this out and rid the hacienda of what ails it before it's too late. With this goal in mind, she turns to a young local priest, Padre Andrés, for help. Together the two set out to exorcise the malevolent presence from the hacienda for good.

Isabel Canas delivers heavy Gothic Horror vibes in this novel. The atmosphere is so strong. The descriptions of what Beatriz was experiencing were absolutely chilling. There were times I had difficulty reading it at night. OMG and is this her debut full length novel!? Canas knocked it out of the park with her first swing!?

I'm seriously fangirling hard over here. Honestly, it has the exact vibe I was hoping for when I picked it up. I actually never read the full synopsis, so Padre Andrés and the role he played in the story took me completely by surprise. I loved that element and his character in particular. Also, the dynamic between Andrés and Beatriz was built out really well.

I would consider this to be a slow burn, so I can see how some Readers may not vibe with that inital build. However, if you are willing to put in the time, it will pay off and it really doesn't take long before the spooky stuff begins. I would definitely recommend this to Horror fans who enjoy a historical setting, as well as to anyone who loves gothic-feeling fiction, or haunted house tales.

Thank you so very much to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I really enjoyed my time with this one and cannot wait to see what Canas delivers next!!!
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This book is sheer Gothic from start to finish.
A mestizo woman practically alone in the world. A rich but wicked husband. The house from hell and a priest/witch to save her. 
Plus the many people who have generations of lives around the hacienda.
The book looks at socio economics, the gendered politics, society in post war for independence Mexico and the fallout.
Similar to Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno Garcia. Great genre I am glad to be reading more of.
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I wanted to love this book so much. A haunted house, gothic descriptions. A kind of a Rebecca retelling.. But. Butttt..

I was bored.

Right off the bat, it just dragged. There is a lot of political information, of what was happening in Mexico at the time (which I really appreciated), but it brought nothing to the gothic setting I was wishing for, Bring in the priest, and his history, and I kept waiting for things to happen. Which they did. In the second half of the book, and way too fast, A lot of predictability, a lot of family drama, and just not enough House for me. 

Also, probably because I wasn't that invested in the story plot, I kept getting confused with the characters, There are plenty of them, and they are all kind of similar. Besides the priest, and our MC that is, 

It didn't hit it out of the park for me,
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