Cover Image: The Hacienda

The Hacienda

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Member Reviews

A hauntingly beautiful and impressive debut, The Hacienda is about loss, freedom, and Mexico, post-War for Independence.⁣
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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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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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