Cover Image: The Hacienda

The Hacienda

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Member Reviews

I love a spooky gothic read and this book has been promoted as Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca so I went in with big expectations. Lucky for me this one lived up to them. 

This book has a lot going on, set against the backdrop of the Mexican Civil War, it can at times read very much like historical fiction. Since this is a period of history that I am not that familiar with, that aspect really intrigued me and I came away feeling like I had learned something, which is always a plus for me. 

One of my favorite aspects of Gothic literature is when the setting becomes a character and the Hacienda San Isidro is my favorite character in this book. The hacienda and it’s landscape are vividly portrayed and the creation of its dark and haunting atmosphere was reminiscent of Manderley in Rebecca. This is a slow burn that takes the time to slowly let the atmosphere develop in a masterful way until the terror of the hacienda reaches is a fever pitch that does not let the reader out of its horrifying grasp until the very end. 

Between the magnificent portrayal of a sense of place and her evocative prose, Canas has done done a wonderful job of evoking the classic gothic horror novel. I really cannot say more about this one as it must be experienced and I don’t want to give anything away. While this book does remind me a lot of Rebecca, it stands on its own. A combination of historical fiction and gothic horror with a dash of Latin style, I found this book to be unique and one that I will remember. I highly recommend this one to lovers of haunted house novels and all things spooky. 
Thank you to @netgalley @berkleypub and for this advanced ebook.
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I had trouble getting into this book, it was just a little too slow moving for me. I think their are reader's for it and it pairs well for people who liked Mexican Gothic.
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Thank you to Netgalley for this review copy. This review will also be posted to my Goodreads page. After the Mexican government is overthrown and her father is killed, Beatriz's options are few. She is offered marriage by Don Rodolfo Solorzano who moves her to his residence: Hacienda San Isidro. When her husband is called back to work, Beatriz is left at the hacienda herself. Her husband's sister, Juana, is an odd character with something to hide. Beatriz becomes more involved in the mysteries of the hacienda and the mysterious death of her husband's first wife. I enjoyed the story- I love a good gothic horror novel- but I feel like I wanted something a little more from this story. I didn't 100% connect with the characters or the story, but I felt is was a solid gothic horror tale.
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A deliciously creepy tale of an ambitious young woman, an unusual priest, and a malevolent force...set against the beauty and injustice of a maguey plantation  in Mexico. The characters are vivid and the pace is exciting. I loved the strong sense of  place and underlying social justice message
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The Mexican government has been overthrown. Beatriz is left homeless and without a father in the aftermath. Beatriz, seeking stability, accepts the proposal of Rodolfo, the Don of Hacienda San Isidro. The stability she seeks begins to falter when Rodolfo leaves for work. Strange occurrences begin to happen around Beatriz, voices, the feeling of being watched, visions, and others in the hacienda performing rituals for reasons unknown. It didn't bother her until now that she is Rodolfo's second wife. The question is, what happened to his first? The only person in the hacienda who will help her is Padre Andrés, but will that be enough to save her from what lurks in the shadows of San Isidro?

Give me more mysterious Latin American tales steeped in history! Beatriz accepts marriage to a wealthy man because she'll do anything to build a home again, but her new home begins to turn against her. It isn't only the structure itself, or sinister forces, but also the people already living in the home, who seek to make Beatriz miserable, and worse. Beatriz isn't going quietly into the night, and I liked how she was ready to fight for what her heart wanted despite the incredible resistance and spookiness she faces.

What I really appreciated in this story is the clear references to historical events and cultural influences around the time of the Mexican War of Independence. The political and religious realities of the time meant that social schisms were common, and if you weren't part of the accepted group, life would be made hard for you on purpose. Both Beatriz and Andrés are outcasts, different than others in the hacienda, which understandably helps to bring them together as allies. I thoroughly enjoyed their camaraderie and their vision for how the hacienda could be different. The Hacienda is a story of a woman who wants her own home, the home that wouldn't accept her, the enigmatic Padre who helps her, and the mystery behind why she is experiencing all of it in the first place. Recommended for readers who appreciate gothic tales set in Latin America, rooted in history, sprinkled with magic, and zested with references to other fine literary works, which I'm sure the keen eye will readily recognize.
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Review goes live on 6/7/22 at 8am EST on LairOBooks 

THE 411...

Isabel Canas’ Gothic Historical Fiction set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence has been compared to the likes of Mexican Gothic & Rebecca. The story starts off with Beatriz whose father has been killed as a rebel and their home destroyed, leaving her and her mother in poverty. Begrudgingly taken in by her mother's Criollo side of the family, Beatriz is constantly reminded of her Mestizo blood and slightly darker complexion. She's delegated to the kitchen in an effort to avoid having to recognize her as being a part of their family up until she gets noticed by wealthy widower/Hacendado Rodolfo. Seeing no way out of her situation, she takes his marriage proposal even though it goes against everything her father fought for. It also means being disowned by her mother as she leaves for San Isidro to live in the Hacienda. A home she believed to make her own, a home that has a soul of it's own and is haunted by the horrors that have taken place there. The Hacienda doesn't accept Beatriz as it's new Dueña and makes sure she knows this. With her husband away from home on business, Beatriz seeks help from the local priest Andres for a home spiritual cleansing. What she didn't expect was to learn her husbands dark secrets or to fall for the mysterious priest with secrets of his own.

WRITING & FINAL THOUGHTS...

Atmospheric and dark, It was easy to get sucked in and get spooked right along with our Main character as she unraveled the mystery at the core of this story. This had exorcist vibes all along, and I'll admit that because of this I was much more interested in our priests POV than Beatriz. There's teasing of a forbidden romance but that's just what it remains all throughout the book. We also don't see much interaction between Beatriz & her new husband. I would say this was more of an exploration of the Casta system and the tension/animosity between Criollos and Mestizos. There's social commentary with regards to the Hacendados vs. the families who've worked the lands, and who then really has rights to the land. As I was reading I kept telling myself this was really well researched which makes sense seeing as Cañas has a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. I enjoyed the writing but ultimately felt something was missing and I couldn't pinpoint what that was. I'm a lover of character driven stories and that may very well be where I felt the disconnect. I'm open to reading more from this author seeing as they cover themes I'm very interested in. This debut novel covers themes of racism, religion, war, colonialism, colorism, bodily autonomy, and the Casta system.

CW: mention of rape and murder, colorism, racism
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The immediate comparison I had with this one was obviously Mexican Gothic, and since I liked that one so much I had to know what this one was all about. Give me all the gothic vibes for life!
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I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This was an easy 5 star for me. 

Cañas is a beautiful writer, and each page was filled with incredible detail. I loved this gothic ghost story that was giving very much “Mexican Gothic” meets “Rebecca” just as advertised. 

I like Beatriz’s character and the priest. Their dynamic drew me in. The world building? Stunning. Internal conflict? Intriguing. There are just enough moving parts to keep us invested in the story but not overwhelmed. And the end is fantastic.

I ate this up and recommend you all do, too.
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With comparisons to Rebecca and Mexican Gothic, how could I not read this? The Hacienda is a slow burning, atmospheric type of horror novel that rewards the reader with deep seated dread the further they push through. I'll  admit that I wondered if I would stick with this one in the first 20%, because the pacing is extremely slow and the writing is very flowery, but I'm so glad I didn't give up, as the pay off by the end is well worth the time and energy it takes to become invested in Beatriz's plight. If you enjoyed Mexican Gothic, just know this is a bit different, but I definitely see where the comparisons are coming from. I cannot wait to experience more from this author!
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The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas definitely has more fall reading vibes than early summer but I had a few rainy days that were the perfect weather for this book. 

This spooky, gothic read is exceptionally good for a first novel. Set in post revolutionary Mexico, the story follows a new bride, Beatriz, who thinks she's escaping the hardships of her old life when her husband brings her to his family estate. Beatriz quickly discovers that not only does the house not want her there, it doesn't want her to leave alive. One of my favorite classic novels is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and The Hacienda absolutely has the same feel.. If you enjoy suspenseful, atmospheric stories this will be right up your alley. 

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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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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