Cover Image: The Hacienda

The Hacienda

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Member Reviews

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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This is my first 5 star horror of the year for me. What an incredible novel. The characters, the dialogue, the writing all top notch. The house itself was a towering undeniable presence a character on its own. I found it masterful how the author gave us some history and knowledge with out throwing us into pages and pages of history. She just included it and us into the story. 
 
Thank you for this e-arc.
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NetGalley ARC | Gothic horror, Mexican Gothic, and Rebecca fans will devour this 2022 new release set in Mexico - directly after the Mexican War of Independence.

Encounter one ticked off haunted house, a handsome witch, and a strong woman in historical fiction.  This is a subtle novel about the ghosts of colonialism mixed with romance and sheer terror.

Read our full review on our books about and set in Mexico reading list: https://www.theuncorkedlibrarian.com/best-books-about-mexico/

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley for a free advanced copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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A gothic, horror, supernatural, suspenseful, historical fiction, mystery novel—with a forbidden romance thrown in! Whew! A very dark atmosphere and a run down, creepy old haunted house with some bad people, good people, witches, and an evil spirit. And did I mention the hot priest?! Takes place just after the Mexican War of Independence. A well written debut.
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Beatriz marries Rodolfo. He’s a businessman and owns a large estate. He leaves to do business so Beatriz runs the estate in his absence. Juana, Rodolfo’s sister, believes she’s the one in charge and she treats everyone gruffly. Beatriz starts to feel like she’s being watched and things get creepier from there, to the point that she’s afraid for her life. She asks the local priests for help and all but one shun her. Padre Andres helps her under the guise of being a priest to help the estate workers. He has knowledge from his ancestors that can help exorcise evil. The house has an extremely powerful, angry spirit and it’s harmful. This is an elaborate and beautifully written horror story that I didn’t ever want to put down. I also didn’t want it to end. 5 stars!
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This book managed to hit basically all the right marks for me while I was reading it. For one, Cañas has a distinct and beautiful writing style that fully immersed me in the setting, the imagery being vivid and well thought out and described. Her words flowed very well, and added to the slowly building tension of the horror at hand. I also loved the horror aspects of this book, as I thought that Cañas does a great job of not only building the horror slowly, but also using themes from Gothic and haunted house stories in ways that were well done as well as, at times, subverting them. There are some really scary moments in this book, and because Beatríz and Andrés are such well rounded characters it makes the reader's investment in them all the more palpable, and therefore these moments scarier. And finally, Cañas also brings in themes of imperialism, classism, racism, and misogyny and deftly incorporates them into the horror story, utilizing real life horrors to make the supernatural ones all the more pointed. I thought this was done the best with Padre Andrés, who has become a priest as a way to shield himself from suspicion during the Inquisition that has made its way to Mexico and to hide his witchcraft and healer roots. 

Horror fans, THE HACIENDA needs to go on your to read list! It's very, very enjoyable!
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This mashup of Mexican Gothic and Rebecca was beautifully done. Set at the dawn of the Mexican Republic, Beatriz is willing to do anything to ensure stability after the death of her father, even if that means marrying a hacendado with a dubious history. She wants a house to call her own, but when the house turns out to have a particularly terrifying mean streak, Beatriz starts looking for help. She can't leave, but no one will help her except a local priest, Andres.

Andres has plenty of secrets of his own, including his background as a witch. He's the only one willing to battle what lurks in the house at night, and over the course of the story Beatriz and Andres get closer and closer until all is revealed in a tumultuous final climax. 

This book kept me on the edge of my seat. I fully enjoyed it.
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Set in the dawning of the Mexican Republic, just putting away the bloodshed of civil war and the crusaides, a young wife tries to make a fresh start in the cou try. But when she finds her new home, that her hopes and dreams rest upon, has a dark past, she turns to a local priest for assistance, only to find that he, too, has a dark past. But some evils are meant to hurt, while others can be used to heal.

A great addition to the contemporary gothic horror genre, The Hacienda is a great recommendation for all lovers of the genre, from Dorian Gray to Frankenstein to Mexican Gothic.
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"The house watched me coyly as I descended the stairs. I shook the feeling off like a horse twitching flies from its hide."
~The Hacienda, Isabel Cañas~

Describing this book as Rebecca meets Mexican Gothic is an absolutely perfect description- and a great way to convince me to read it- I loooove both of those books!

After Beatriz's father is executed and she moves with her mother to her unfriendly extended family's house, she jumps at the chance to make a home of her own when Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes. Despite his less desirable political associations, her mother's disapproval, and the mysterious circumstances of his first wife's death, she quickly marries him and moves to his countryside home, Hacienda San Isidro. 

But the house isn't quite what she had hoped. 

Without help from her mother, husband, or new sister-in-law, Beatriz wages a war against the house with her only ally, Padre Andrés, who, like the house, is more than he appears. 

Completely gripping while a little bit scary- just an excellent read!
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*Full review to be posted to my blog, NetGalley, Goodreads, and Amazon closer to publication!*

What a beautiful, vivid, and haunting story. The Hacienda was everything I hoped it would be and more. I loved follow Beatriz and Andres on this rather harrowing journey with the forbeoding hacienda and appreciated getting such a in-depth look into both of their minds and experiences along the way. Cañas' writing is absolutely beautiful, full of careful word choice and sentences that leave you fully immersed in this story and atmosphere. Highly recommended to fans of horror and anything haunted, and the Rebecca/Mexican Gothic comparisons aren't wrong–if you liked either one of those, I definitely think you should check out The Hacienda as well.
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There were plenty of pretty intense, scary moments. Overall, I did enjoy the story and characters and the setting added to the creepiness. This would make a great horror movie!
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