Cover Image: The Hacienda

The Hacienda

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Member Reviews

In The Hacienda, sanctuary is but an illusion. Vengeance hisses and unfurls cold, skeletal truth. 

Canas' debut is, without a doubt, my favorite read of 2022 so far. 

Full Review Coming to Cemetery Dance Magazine!
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One of my favorite books this year is The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas. Set a few years after the Mexican War of Independence, it provided the perfect backdrop for a historical horror fiction. The people were still reeling from the effects of the war; and the divide between rich and poor were all the more evident. Coming from a country that was colonized by Spaniards for 400 years, I can certainly appreciate this novel - the casta system, the prejudice against mestizos and mestizas, and the ever pressing need to be light-skinned/fair. The characters were also interesting for me: Beatriz, who I admired for taking hold of her future by marrying someone she didn’t love but would provide for her and her mother; Padre Andrés, who came to terms with his innate gift as a witch despite the fear of Inquisition; and the Hacienda, with its own sinister and mysterious personality! I love that the author made Hacienda San Isidro its own entity, with feelings and ghastly attitude — it sure reminded me of Amityville! Que horror!!! The book was described as a cross between Rebecca and Mexican Gothic, and I quite agree. They all had atmospheric settings with slow burn suspense build up plus beautiful prose. However, this book is extra scary with its supernatural elements. I was both entertained and captivated right from the start. Love all the creepy moments and goosebumps-inducing exorcisms! As for the finale, I liked that it ended in a realistic manner, rather than a rushed HEA. I also appreciated the author’s notes at the end of the book. It made me understand the story more. All in all, I would recommend this book, especially to historical and horror fans who aren’t faint of heart.😉 My rating: 🔖🔖🔖🔖.5/5
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Beatriz is on the run.  From her past and her families’ old ties.  Little does she realize that accepting a proposal to marry from Don Rodolfo would bring her to a house so haunted by its own past that it is out for literal blood.  Will Beatriz be able to show everyone that the house is truly possessed and that she is not just losing her mind?  What caused the house to become so malevolent?  
This book starts off super slow.  It was hard to get into but about five chapters in the book starts to pick up.  Once Beatriz starts to have encounters with the house and it’s spirits it is easier to settle in and enjoy the story.  I will say that I really didn’t think that it was necessary for Padre Andres and Beatriz to have a physical relationship towards the end of the book.  I understand that they both go through such horrible ordeals together and that Beatriz can accept Padre Andres for all that he is, but I personally don’t feel like it added to the story.  Overall, this book was okay.  I could easily see this being a great book for a book club.  

Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of this text.
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Historical Novels Review, May 2022:

Beatriz steps down from the carriage with her new husband Rodolpho. Hacienda San Isidro stands imposing and sinister before her, “a high dark wooden door set deep in white stucco walls… wrought-iron accents [and] high dark spikes on the front of the walls.” When Beatriz steps inside, “the air [is] thick and silent” and “the stucco swallowed even the songs of the birds.” Disrepair, cobwebs, a dead rat on the step, and cold, distrustful servants all leave her with a feeling of menace. The Solórzano family have been landlords of their Apan valley estate for many generations cultivating maguey (agave). Even though the Mexican War of Independence ended two years earlier in 1821, Spanish colonialism and class structure remain. The Solórzano family are Spanish hacendados ruling the native tlachiqueros and villagers for many generations—often oppressive and ruthless, especially to the women.

This gothic novel will pull you in with vivid language and drop you into a sinister world. Reminiscent of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier in its setup, this story is infused with a much darker horror. When Rodolpho leaves, Beatriz is left alone to face the house with its strange happenings, dark secrets, voices of the dead, and hateful spirits. Nights of terror leave Beatriz sleepless but determined to take back her house from what possesses it. Beatriz can trust no one, but Andrés, a priest from the village, earns her confidence when she wants an exorcism to cleanse the house. Andrés is not only a priest, but a witch hiding his innate powers from the lingering reach of the Inquisition and those who fear the unknown. Cañas has created engaging characters in Beatriz, Andrés, and, yes, the house, but beware of blood and supernatural violence. The pages turn quickly to a faultless, satisfying ending.
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“I was going to die in this house.”

This historical gothic horror was so creepy and tense! It’s a very slow burn but the buildup was worth it. The Hacienda is being compared to Mexican Gothic and I can definitely get behind that. Like MG, the book features a super chilling haunted house but the scenes in The Hacienda were a lot more intense and gory.

I loved the MC, Beatriz. She was strong willed with the perfect amount of sass. All of the characters were so well developed and had secrets which added to the suspense of the story.

I thought the ending was satisfying. It could have gone a different way and I would have been happy, but I loved how it all played out in the end.

I definitely recommend this one for supernatural horror fans, just be prepared for a SLOW burn!
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4.5 stars

I absolutely devoured this book. It’s a wonderful slow burn classic style gothic horror. Very atmospheric and beautifully haunting!
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All the creepy, sinister vibes of a classic gothic novel in a fresh and interesting setting. The Hacienda is a haunting tale set at the end of the Mexican War of Independence. I loved reading about this chaotic era, a period that isn't often covered in fiction. For fans of Mexican Gothic, as well as classics like Rebecca.
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My overall rating is 3.5 for this Historical Gothic novel set in Mexico.  

Canas has written lush landscapes with delectable food descriptions in this historical gothic novel set in Mexico. The reader gets a glimpse into the lifestyles of Mexicans after the Revolutionary War, interweaving supernatural elements into the storyline.  

Creepy house.  
Mysterious husband. 
Sexy priest.
A sister-in-law who acts suspicious.
Walls that drip blood
Murder
The Hacienda delivers ALL out horror.  
Don't skip over the author's notes!

This novel is incredibly slow, and the second half of the novel was better than the first half.  

Thank you Berkley Publishing for the complimentary copy of this novel.
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Following her father’s execution, Beatriz is left destitute and without a home, so she accepts the handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano’s marriage proposal despite the rumors surrounding his first wife’s death. However, her new home is not the refuge she’d thought it would be. She hears voices and feels as if invisible eyes are watching her.

Desperate for help, she turns to a priest to confront the malevolent presence lurking in her home.

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas is an utterly gripping and deliciously gothic historical horror that’s set during the aftermath the Mexican War of Independence.

The story is wonderfully atmospheric and has all the trappings of a classic gothic novel (in the best possible way). There’s a crumbling and dilapidated estate, a vengeful ghost, and something hiding in the walls.

However, it’s the two main characters that really stole my heart. There’s Beatriz is the headstrong daughter of a general, and then there’s Padre Andres who is a priest with his own demons. Both of them form a mutual respect for each other and I loved watching the crackling tension and chemistry between them.

Hands down, this is my favorite horror book of the year so far, and I can’t wait to see more from Cañas because this was an incredible debut.
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Beatriz decides to change her life and hopefully her mother’s when she marries Don Rodolfo. Since her father was called a traitor and killed, Beatriz and her mother have had to rely on the charity grudgingly given by relatives. Honestly, the servants are treated better (not by much though), and Beatriz seizes this opportunity to marry as her only way out. Her mother is appalled since Rodolfo was on the side of the men who killed her husband. She will not go to her daughter’s wedding, and Beatriz lives will the belief that in time, her mother will change her mind. She will be the mistress of San Isidro and who knows maybe even grow to love her husband.

But the hacienda is dark, and rundown, and Beatriz has an almost insurmountable job ahead of her. Her husband's sister Juana is openly hostile, and no one will stay in the house after dark. Once her husband returns to the city Beatriz is truly alone in the house. But every room holds menacing secrets and if she isn't driven mad first, something that lives within the walls won't let her leave alive. No spoilers but the things that went on in the hacienda made my blood curdle, and I don't know how Beatriz didn't run out screaming into the night.

It's a slow-burn gothic horror story that builds in intensity one page at a time. When Beatriz has almost given up, she reaches out to the church hoping the priest will perform an exorcism on the hacienda. She is considered mad except for one priest Andres who knows what she says is true and vows to help her.
 Did I almost fall off my treadmill while reading this book multiple times when I thought I heard a noise behind me? Yes, I did. One of the scariest places I can recall reading about it. The background of the Mexican civil war combined with truly despicable people and this unbelievably dark house made this an unputdownable book. I loved it! 4.5 stars.
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Isabel Cañas’ striking debut, The Hacienda, is a historical, Gothic horror novel enticing readers with a compelling haunted house tale while making a grab for hearts with a love story nestled in its core.

Beatriz is a fierce, wildly independent woman with ambition who sets her sights well above her lowly station. Beatriz and her mother were forced to move in with a family member after her father dies in Mexico’s War of Independence.

One night, she meets a wealthy widower and immediately decides that he is her ticket out of their dire situation. They marry and she is whisked off to the estate of her dreams.

The reality of her new life becomes uncertain as soon as she arrives at Hacienda San Isidro.

This is where the big “Rebecca” vibes enter the room! The fantasies of the idyllic marriage to a wealthy, powerful man and living a life of luxury in his beautiful estate begin to dissipate.

The author does an amazing job painting a vivid sense of place. She describes the landscape and the hacienda with intricate details so that the reader feels they are touring the grounds right alongside Beatriz as she sees her new home for the first time.

Cañas leans into classic Gothic traditions by immersing the reader in the narrative; wrapping luscious prose in a cloak of dark, haunting atmosphere with that glorious sense of doom and gloom. It’s utterly mesmerizing to the point of never wanting to separate from its grip. Plan to spend long hours in this book.

The unexpected aspects of this book are best left for readers to discover on their own but it’s important to mention that investment in the characters is at a premium, especially Padre Andrés.

The Hacienda is an exciting debut because it masterfully selects the best parts of several horror sub-genres and works them together to create something altogether unique and hauntingly magical. This is a must read and Isabel Cañas is one to watch.
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I love reading a haunted house novel where the haunted house is actually scary. The title hacienda of Isabel Cañas’ debut novel delivers on that in spades, in this eerie cross between Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting Of Hill House. Even more absorbingly, the story is set amidst the turmoil immediately after Mexico’s War of Independence, as a young woman flees a Cinderella-like existence only to discover greater horrors lying in store for her.

Beatriz Hernández Valenzuela is the only daughter of an executed insurgent general and the criollo woman who was cast out of high society for daring to marry someone so far below her in social status. After General Hernández’ death, Beatriz and her Mamá were forced to live off of the sneering generosity of the only Valenzuela relatives who would receive them. A desperate Beatriz uses her social debut in these new circles to seize the only escape she can find, in the form of her handsome suitor Don Rodolfo Eligio Solórzano:

QUOTE
As beautiful as he was, I had no romantic notions about Rodolfo when I accepted his offer [...] My appearance may have convinced him to look past my father’s politics; after all, I was a newcomer to capital society, and I knew I was beautiful. These two truths made me an enticing mystery to conquest-minded men.

But I was also someone who turned a blind eye to the susurration of rumors circling his widowerhood, and Rodolfo wanted a bride who did not ask too many questions. I chose to gamble on his secrets. Our relationship was founded on one thing and one thing only: my world was a dark, windowless room, and he was a door.
END QUOTE

As soon as she can, she persuades him to take her to his Ceurnavaca estate, Hacienda San Isidro. While her mother’s disappointment in Beatriz marrying for convenience rather than love has led to a rift between the two women, Beatriz is determined to make her new home a refuge for them both. At first, she believes that all she has to contend with are Rodolfo’s unconventional – and often unfriendly – family and servants, who have let the hacienda fall into a state of near-uninhabited disrepair. But after Rodolfo heads back to the capital to continue managing his political affairs, leaving her to run the household alone, Beatriz discovers that the house itself harbors strong feelings towards her, few of them good.

After too many sleepless nights, terrifying visions and, finally, life-threatening accidents, she turns in desperation to the local church, ostensibly to bless the house but really to perform an exorcism on it. Cold Padre Vicente dismisses her fears as womanly hysteria, but the younger Padre Andrés, who grew up in the area, is inclined to listen. Andrés has his own secrets, having returned from seminary only a handful of years ago to a valley that seemed to be lying in wait for him:

QUOTE
The valley’s awareness of me overtook me in a roar, in a wave, and I trembled beneath my too-big sarape. For years I had buried myself behind thick walls, alone–my secret severed me from the other students at the seminary. Fear of discovery governed my every thought and step; I hid myself so completely I lived a hair’s breadth from suffocation.

Now I was <i>seen</i>.
END QUOTE

Andrés, you see, is a witch, and can hear the voices in the house, too. As he and Beatriz join forces to rid the hacienda of its malevolent entities, they find themselves growing closer to one another… as well as closer to the truth of who’s truly behind the haunting, and what really happened to Rodolfo’s first wife.

This was a highly entertaining haunted house mystery that not only highlights an under-represented era and milieu in English literature (and especially in genre fiction) but also sympathetically imparts the tale of two lonely, damaged souls brought together in a fight against the evil that seeks to overwhelm them. I loved too how Ms Cañas examines the colonial standards that threaten to destroy our protagonists even before the supernatural comes into play. Her handling of that supernatural aspect is deft: I truly felt scared for Beatriz left alone in a house intent on her doom. The Hacienda works equally well as a historical novel and as a supernatural thriller, and will likely be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates either and especially both.
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In 1823 Beatriz and her mother are left penniless after her father is executed, branded as a traitor by the new regime in Mexico. She marries Don Rodolfo, a wealthy man whose wife died under questionable circumstances. Beatriz hopes moving to his large hacienda will give her some freedom, but the house seems alive with malice. What is wrong with the hacienda, and why will no one believe her that strange things happen there? Padre Andres, a local priest, does believe her, but it his earlier history as a witch that will help him in dealing with the evils of the hacienda. The author describes this novel as “an homage to Shirley Jackson and Daphne DuMaurier." Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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Synopsis: Beatriz just married handsome Don Rodolfo Solorzano, and moved to his Hacienda in a remote town in Mexico. She’s heard rumors of the sudden death of Rodolfo’s first wife, but chooses to ignore them for the security of a stable home. Her previous home was destroyed when her father was murdered for during an overthrow of the Mexican government. Beatriz is looking for sanctuary and security, 
but when Rodolfo goes back to the capital for work, she soon realized the house seem to be watching her and her dreams have become nightmares. Desperate for a good nights sleep, she approaches a priest to bless the house but the house is not happy. 

My thoughts: Along the same vein as Mexican Gothic, The Hacienda is spooky and atmospheric. It was a slow burn horror book with just enough spook to keep you hooked, but not so much to keep you awake at night. 

The writing is so deep, I found I had to be completely focused on the story so I didn’t miss something. At times I had to stop and re-read again to make sure I understood what was happening. 

Pick this up if you’re a sucker for:
* Slow burn 
* Spooky stories about haunted houses
* Finding a friend in an unusual circumstance 
* Deep and rich atmospheric
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I received a gifted galley of THE HACIENDA by Isabel Cañas for an honest review. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review!

THE HACIENDA is a historical fiction gothic, paranormal thriller set in the aftermath of the Mexican War for Independence. Beatriz’s father was executed in the overthrow of the government, so she’s feeling a loss of security. She accepts Don Rodolfo Solórzano’s proposal in order to gain the security of his home.

Unfortunately when she arrive at San Isidro, it isn’t the secure place she wanted. She is immediately plagued by strange happenings with evil portents and the people on the estate are acting strangely as well. Beatriz enlists the help of Andrés, a man who isn’t entirely what one would expect from the man of the church.

This one has been described as a combination of MEXICAN GOTHIC and REBECCA and I think that is an on point comparison. You do need to go into this one expecting a gothic slow burn. I really did enjoy the creepy, gothic vibes of this story! I did find it a little slow to get into with the initial flashbacks in the story, but I really loved all of Beatriz’s present day story.

Beatriz was an interesting character to follow. I did wonder throughout if I considered her brave for sticking it out at the hacienda or if she was moreso stubborn. I can say for sure that I would have been on the first carriage away from everything that was happening there! There were a lot of strong women who were essentially stuck there, either as staff or family. It was very interesting to slowly uncover their stories as they began to open up about everything that was going on.

If you enjoy a good spooky slow burn, this is a book I would recommend. THE HACIENDA is out today!
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Big Haunting of Hill House vibes! Wow what a spooky, atmospheric, spine-tingling story from Isabel Cañas. It takes place in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence on a spooky estate and the way Cañas describes the setting really just transports you. 

I loved that we got both Beatriz and Andrès POVs because I feel like it really helped develop the story overall. I loved the characters even though they were a mix of lovable and horrifying, each with their own complex backstories and motivations for being in the hacienda in the first place. The most unsettling part of it all is when we soon realize the hacienda has an agenda of its own. It’s hard to say more without spoiling but I really feel like this is a historical spooky thriller that a lot of people will enjoy! Pick it up May 3rd 2022!

Thank you to Netgalley, Berkeley, Isabel Cañas and Lauren Burnstein for the gifted ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Haunted houses give me the biggest creep factor. Maybe because it's so easy to picture, living in an old home myself. In this case, the author perfectly described this creepy old hacienda and all of the terrifying things that take place inside of it. Set during the period following the Mexican War of Independence, this gothic horror kept me turning the pages. I even had to put it down at night and read a few pages of a rom com to cleanse my brain from it. Ultimately, this book is a story of power. Political, gender, religious, socio-economic, and the living/dead. It's also a suspenseful tale of forbidden romance, witchcraft and ghosts. This was so good. If you like being creeped out, this will be one to read!
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I was actually scared while reading this. This is what I wanted Mexican Gothic to be with none of the mushrooms. It plays on the Gothic feel of a house alone on a hill where a new wife tries to leave her mark. Houses absorb energy and there's been centuries of bad energy here. A priest with dark ambitions, the new wife and other servants embark on a journey that left me more than a little scared. I loved the representation as well and while sometimes the novel went a little too far in the atmospheric world building it def gave me the creeps. The horror is high and the ghosts never stop coming, every night a new haunting disrupts Beatriz' sleep and her new found freedom as a wife with a busy husband. When he finally does return, will the terror find its victim? Def for fans of horror and who wanted a better plot than that other novel.
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Horror is decidedly not my genre of choice. I am a scardy-cat. But I’ve been following this author on Instagram for years and hearing bits and pieces of this novel made me NEED to read an advance copy! This book is atmospheric as hell and lush and rich and that’s what made it a great horror story to me - I guess really what I don’t go for is blood and guts, but this gets you in your bones, in your feelings, in what’s just lurking in the shadows or out of sight. I’m so glad I read this, I only wish I had finished it in the daytime because going to sleep now is going to freak me out!
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Thank you NetGalley for a copy of this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
I love that my introduction to horror was through Mexican Gothic and now The Hacienda. There’s something about unsettling houses and the ways the heroines in both of these books confront so much more than a supernatural entity but a very real human threat too. A human threat that examines colonialism all while spinning your a gothic tale.
The Hacienda was everything I wanted for entertainment: apparitions, a mystery, and yes, a hot priest. But it also had everything I love as a student of history. Examining Mexico after its Independence—and the ways old systems brought about by colonizers continue to mark the people and the land—gave so much more to this book and made it as great as it is because of it.
I already know this is a book I absolutely must have in my shelves and can’t wait to recommend to everyone I know!
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