Cover Image: The Hacienda

The Hacienda

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Member Reviews

This was a combination of Season 2 Fleabag "Hot Priest" trope mixed in with lots of sprinkles of Mexican Gothic and the old black and white film, Rebecca. I couldn't sleep when I read it at night, so I could only read it during the day. I love how it tackled colonization and just kept me rooting for Beatriz.
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I received an ARC of The Hacienda from Berkley Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. 

Isabel Cañas’ debut novel is an anti-colonialist take on the haunted house genre set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence. It follows two characters: Beatriz, who has recently married a man named Rodolfo after the death of his first wife in an effort to acquire social and financial security; and Andrés, a hot young priest who is also a witch. When Rodolfo goes to the capital so he can do Politics™, Beatriz is left behind at his (haunted) house, San Isidro, with his sister Juana, his housekeeper Ana Luisa, and Ana Luisa’s daughter Paloma. 

Beatriz is a refreshingly practical character. She worries less about her own happiness and more about how she will survival (literally, but also monetarily) after the upheaval her family and her country have gone through in the early 19th century, hence why she marries Rodolfo even though she has no real romantic interest in him. She also commits herself to ridding her new house of whatever malevolent spirit is haunting it because she is determined to transform that house into a home. I love that! I’ve never encountered a haunted house story that functions as a metaphor for a woman claiming her physical place in the world, and I enjoyed that approach to the genre. 

Andrés is less interesting. His character deals with faith and its insufficiency when it comes to handling real-world problems (such as haunted houses), but he isn’t given enough space in the novel for Cañas to fully unpack this theme, and the magic system is too murky to escape the realm of deus ex machina and enter the realm of emotional resonance. The Hacienda would probably have been a stronger book without Andrés as a POV character—nothing would have been lost, and it would have given Cañas the opportunity to more thoroughly explore Beatriz. 

The story is pretty predictable. You’ll find all your favorite haunted house tropes and not much more, but for the most part those tropes are executed effectively; the problem is not with the horror, it’s with the framework (or the lack thereof) that supports it. The Hacienda just needs more: more depth to the characters, more context to the time period, more clarity to the magic system and how it slots into the metaphysics of the alternate history Cañas has constructed. This all comes to a head in the climactic sequence, which I can only describe as deeply unsatisfying. 

Some books have a distinct moment where things just...fall apart, quality-wise. This is not one of those. But I found myself enjoying The Hacienda less and less as it progressed—there just isn’t enough going on in the way of theme or subtext, and a haunted house story without those things is like an empty, unfurnished abode. The book described by Isabel Cañas in the author’s note (an aggressively anti-colonialist horror novel) is the book I wanted, but I do not feel like that’s the book I got. Despite competent prose and a few decent spooks, my interest in The Hacienda waned steadily until, by the end of the book, it was entirely gone. 

One positive note: Spanish words are not italicized in The Hacienda. Hallelujah!
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Y’all, I love a good spooky read, but I’m pretty hard to impress when it comes to this genre.
That being said, this one did it for me!

Cañas’ writing was so well executed, I felt like I was being transported into the setting of the story, and if you could have seen me while reading this one, several times you would have caught me with goosebumps on my arms and my blanket tucked up to my chin. I was actually scared of la hacienda, too!

I also loved that Cañas elicited such strong emotions toward her characters for me. I loved the ones I loved (and really didn’t the ones I didn’t lol), and not only did it make this book hard to put down, but it made me sad when it ended.

I would highly recommend this book to everyone! Thank you to Berkley Publishing and Penguin Randomhouse, for the ARC and the opportunity to read and support the work of a fellow Mexican-American woman.
 #representationmatters
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This definitely felt more horror than Gothic fiction to me (and I don't often read horror). I think the recommendation to fans of Mexican Gothic is apt; I might have actually preferred this novel. Major themes included colorism and colonialism in the early days of Mexican independence from Spain (1820s).
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Content warning: rape, violence, financial abuse

Want to threaten me with a good time? Tell me there’s a book that blends historical fiction, gothic themes, and features a woman in historic dress in front of what appears to be a burning building on its cover. It’s fair to say from the premise and cover alone, I was prepared to be entranced by The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas.

It’s 1823 in rural Mexico and Beatriz has recently married into the well-to-do Solórzano family in order to escape the ire of her extended family who had taken her and her mother in after the untimely death of her ill-fated father. His position as a general for the right side of the Mexican War for independence wins him no favor as the new government convenes, leaving Beatriz no choice but to take the first chance she can to move back into an exalted place within society—even if her husband is allied with the men who endangered her family. So while she may not have the greatest hopes for her future as part of the Solórzano family, she is not at all prepared for the eerie vibes she encounters as she first makes her home at their hacienda in San Isidro. Her sister-in-law and housekeeper are distant and calculating, her husband is frequently away from home, and her neighbors are beholden to the family’s holdings and not sure what to make of Rodolfo Solórzano’s latest wife. All Beatriz knows is that no one can give her an answer about how his first wife died and she has no other option but to make the hacienda the home she and her mother desperately need, regardless of the circumstances. As she spends more time in San Isidro, she learns there is much more than meets the eye in each of these dynamics. 

A historical fiction tale with supernatural twists and recognition of where women can find independence and power within a war-torn patriarchal system, The Hacienda is a novel worth reading when you want a mystery as wrapped up in personal ambitions as it is a reflection of societal failures. 

*BGC kindly thanks the teams at Berkley Publishing and Book of the Month for early access to this book.*
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The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas is a book I've so been looking forward to, namely because I'm such a huge fan of a Gothic and am loving how they are having a bit of a revival (which is good news for my own book!), but also because I thought it was so refreshing to see this sort of novel set someplace outside of the usual European setting. The result is a haunting blend of religion and magic, priests and witches, and the horrors of colonialism in Mexico.

When Beatriz accepts the hand of the handsome and wealthy Don Rodolfo Solórzano, it is not because she loves him--it is because she has lost everything after her father was executed during the overthrow of the Mexican government, and wants nothing more than to have a place to call home for her and her mother. But the Solórzano family estate, Hacienda San Isidro, is a place full of secrets--and perhaps something even more insidious. For something in San Isidro is angry, something that slams doors, that leaves rats eviscerated, that causes spectral, girlish laughter.

Exhausted and terrified by sleepless nights doing battle with San Isidro, Beatriz feels she has no one else to turn to but the church. There, she finds Andrés, a mestizo priest with strong familial roots within San Isidro, and startingly, powers that seem not of this world. Together, they hope to cleanse San Isidro of its ghosts--both literal and figurative--and to get to the bottom of what happened to the first Doña Solórzano.

This novel is beautifully atmospheric--I especially appreciated the wonderful descriptions of San Isidro and the land around it--spooky and wonderful all at once. The two protagonists of The Hacienda, Beatriz and Andrés, are very interesting and well-fleshed, and the relationship that blooms between them (deliciously slow-burn might I add) is lovely, too. My only qualm with it is that I felt the other characters, particularly that of Rodolfo and his sister, really suffered from a lack of dimension. I think there was a lot that could have expanded upon to add more depth to these characters and even some scenes within the novel. But these are nitpicks that will not hinder the enjoyment of The Hacienda in any way for other readers! 

If you are a fan of Gothics like I am, this one is a must-read and a breath of fresh air for the genre while holding onto what makes it so enjoyable: mysteries hidden within dark houses, secretive families, untimely deaths, and of course, a hint of forbidden romance!
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A restless ghost, a touch of gore, a conflicted priest, a determined woman, and a fascinating setting combine to make this a compelling read. I will be recommending this to fans of horror, suspense, romance, and historical fiction. It would make an excellent book club pick as well. 

Many thanks for the opportunity to read and review!
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"The house had more moods than a swallow had feathers."

Confession: I nearly DNFed this book. The first 30% or so was really slow for me. The language and descriptions were beautiful but nothing was happening. I was reading this as part of a buddy read so I stuck with it and I am so glad I did. Once the action kicked in, I was enthralled and couldn't put the book down until I got to the end. 

"Words are power: they may lay your destiny in stone or shatter a legacy altogether. Words can damn or bless in equal measure and are never to be used lightly."

I'm sure THE HACIENDA will be compared to Mexican Gothic and I can see why - they both involve haunted houses in Mexico - but I enjoyed this one a lot more. The explanation for what happens in the house is a lot more satisfying and the ending is just perfection. And besides the supernatural elements, the author also touches on racism, colonialism, religion and more, giving the story added depth. I also have to praise Cañas' writing - it's truly lyrical and atmospheric - and her author's note is not to be missed. It made me appreciate the book even more:

"Reading historical fiction can teach us about worlds long gone, but in doing so, it must also inspire reflections on the present. As a historian, a Mexican-American woman, and a fellow reader, I hope this novel inspires the courage, anger, and compassion we all need to face the ghosts of colonialism that linger today."

Oh, and did I mention there's a hot priest? You're welcome.

3.75 stars rounded up

Thanks to Berkley Publishing for the copy to review.
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I loved this book so much! I'm a sucker for gothic fiction, mainly because it focuses on psychological terror and existential dread rather than gore. This one also came with a side of historical fiction. Definitely Rebecca vibes. Very memorable read from a debut author. Buy this book!
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A marvelous spooky tale that truly is rare in the horror genre-- a spiritual sequel to Rebecca, a melding of historical fiction and Gothic dread. This is for all y'all who, like me, can't handle gore. The Hacienda is atmospheric with unique characters, and heavily historically researched, and it works insanely well.
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Haunted house? Check. Fascinating characters? Check. Gorgeous writing? Check. Read this book. It’s not as gross as Mexican Gothic and does have Rebecca vibes. I loved it.
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Talk about creepy. I would 100% not read this in the dark or by yourself lol.  Haunted house, swoony priest, creepy people, noises, ghosts etc. i mean this book had it all. The storytelling was gripping and as the story unfolded you just needed a little more. I think it also did a great job in portraying what post war Mexico looked like a how women had to take on roles they hadn’t before. If you like spooky, with a little history, and a dash of forbidden love - this one is for you!
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I did like this one, but I called it way too early. I did like the mix of themes of Rebecca and Mexican Gothic. I loved both of those books. I would still recommend this one, but it was missing something for me. It started out really spooky and kind of scary and then it just fell off somewhere. I found the ending a bit anti-climatic, and I did not care for the ending honestly. I wanted more of a twist or something and it just didn't happen.

Thank you so much @netgalley for this advanced reader's copy for an honest review
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Pays homage to Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson, with a setting in the Mexican countryside just after Mexico’s War of Independence. Beatriz has ambitions. Upon entering a loveless marriage with a mysterious hacienda owner, she fully intends to make Hacienda San Isidro her own. The hacienda’s Gothic manse, however, and the spirits that possess it, have other, more sinister intentions. Beatriz will grow to depend on Andres, the young priest who was raised on the hacienda among the servant families, to help her deal with the house. Andres, however, is holding back his own secrets. Isabel Cañas nails the Gothic horror tone, pacing, and doomed romance. Plus she succeeds in a setting that allows Mexican-American readers to see themselves represented in genre fiction and that brings to light themes of the period: the casta system, colonialism, the dynamics of land owners and those who actually live on and work that land, oppressive religion, and women’s struggles to steer their own destinies. I highly recommend this novel to Gothic horror fans. It’s a worthy addition to the genre.
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I found this book fascinating from beginning to end! 
There’s a mix of a forbidden romance, historical fiction, a creepy gothic like atmosphere and ghost story in this suspense novel.
This book was straight up my alley, it’s a little bit of a slow burn and I think it was on point for this plot.
So, Beatriz who has recently  married Rodolfo  moves into Hacienda San Isidro. Shortly there after Rodolfo leaves to go to work at the capital. Beatriz is feeling uncomfortable , she’s hearing things and she’s definitely unsettled. She asks a young priest for help. So much suspense building as dark secrets are exposed.

This is one book that will keep you turning the pages.
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𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗣𝗹𝗼𝘁 
⭐Two years after Mexico’s fight for independence and with her father executed and their family home destroyed, Beatriz and her mother are destitute.
⭐Beatriz marries the wealthy Don Rodolfo Solórzano and moves to his family estate, Hacienda San Ysidro
⭐Beatriz experiences strange, eerie occurrences within the house. She notices the staff behaves oddly around her, and no one is forthcoming with what is wrong with the house --or that they believe her.
⭐After the hauntings increase in intensity, a terrified Beatriz seeks out the help of a priest, Andres – a man who has secrets of his own

𝗧𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀
I was swept away by the Hacienda. Isabel Cañas has created an atmospheric, haunting, romantic story set in the aftermath of Mexico’s fight for Independence from Spain.

The story is told from the POV of Beatriz, a newly married second wife determined to make Hacienda San Ysidro her home, and Andrés, a handsome young priest with a dark, mysterious past.

The Hacienda weaves an imagined religion into a suspenseful story alternating between two timelines that will eventually reveal the horrific secrets the house keeps. I admit I sped through the back story chapters to get back to the anxiety-inducing, frightening present day.

This book also incorporates the ugly aftermath left after hundreds of years of Spanish rule in Mexico: a huge wealth divide, a caste system based on skin color, disdain towards mestizos, and mestizas (mix-raced). Beatriz is subject to comments on her skin color being too dark and warned to stay out of the sun.
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Ideal for fans of haunted house horror and heroines who scream right back at the monsters.
Beatriz only marries Rodolfo because "Our relationship was founded on one thing and one thing only: my world was a dark, windowless room, and he was a door." She is overjoyed to leave the home of her arrogant and harsh relatives where she has been working as a servant to join her new husband on the maguey hacienda his family has owned for several generations.
But the hacienda is not the paradise she hoped. She encounters microaggressions from the fairer-complected upper class neighbors, cagey distrust from the domestic staff, and open hostility from her new sister-in-law. Her husband returns to the capitol alone for business and she finds herself alone and friendless. 
The haunting begins that night with a chest full of blood.
Beatriz turns to local priest Padre Andres to cleanse the home of malevolent spirits. From this point on, the story alternates POV between Beatriz and Andres, whose witchy heritage and family ties allow him to more deeply sense and interact with the home. Andres is a powerful witch by birth and a devout Catholic priest by choice, and uses his abilities to bless the local residents and his position within the church to hide from the Inquisition.
While Beatriz does require Andres's help, she is no frail flower -- she quite regularly stares down the haunting and grits her way through its torment. When she walks directly into dangerous situations, it's not with the naivety that kills off characters in scary movies, it is with the grim determination of a soldier entering battle. I cheered for her and laughed out loud when she would get cheeky with the spooks. 

I had a hard time putting this book down. 

It strongly reminded me of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic but I'm not complaining. I would read a hundred more books like these. Will someone keep on writing them, pretty please?

arc received for review
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The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas is a wonderfully written blend of historical fiction and gothic horror! 

After Beatriz loses her father and her home in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, she marries the handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano. Beatriz believes that Rodolfo and his estate in the countryside will give her security. But when strange things start happening, she begins to realize Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

This was a highly enjoyable debut! The writing was so descriptive, vivid, and atmospheric that Hacienda San Isidro came alive. It certainly creeped me out! I’ve never read a book with a priest/witch as a character, so that added a unique twist. The author also seamlessly wove historical elements of racism, classism, and sexism into this creepy, disturbing, and suspenseful story. I can’t wait to see what Cañas comes up with next!
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Thank you to NetGalley, Berkley Books, and Ms. Cañas for the opportunity to read an ARC of Book of Night. An honest review was requested but not required.

I have not read Mexican Gothic, which is one of the “readalikes” mentioned in conjunction with Hacienda, but I have read Rebecca and I definitely think that comparison is apt. I wish I had read this book in October: it had the exact right read-with-my-light-on vibe. I may or may not have left lights on all night for a few days in a row while reading.

I found the start to be a bit slow, but the writing was just beautiful. (I have the WORST cravings for Mexican food now.) I thought the house was easily the best “character” of the book. I really don’t want to get specific, because the story is best read without much background. Even the blurb, I felt, was too much information. Don’t read reviews, don’t try and get details beforehand, just let the magic (and the goosebumps) happen naturally. Highly recommended, 4 1/2 stars.
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Describing this book as a mix between Mexican Gothic and Rebecca was spot on. This book definitely had creepy vibes. However, it was not the book for me. I found it quite slow. I almost DNF'd it several times but kept forcing myself to read because I was part of a book tour for it. It was very hard to stay focused on this book. Maybe I will try the audiobook version and see if I like it any better.
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