Cover Image: The Hacienda

The Hacienda

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Beatriz marries to escape after her father is killed during the Mexican Revolution. She believes that marrying Rodolfo and moving into Hacienda San Isidro is the solution to all her problems. However upon arrival at the hacienda, things are not all that they seem. A domineering and skeptical sister, Juana disregards Beatriz’s fears - leading Beatriz to question her sanity. But she ultimately enlists the help of Padre Andres to exorcize the house. What follows is a classic tale of haunting, with twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. 

Canas has done well here - reminiscent of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier with a terrible haunting and an isolated heroine. Complete with era specific details, Canas evokes the fear and longing within Beatriz and her desires while also highlighting her strength. The character development was on point - the emotions felt for the characters ranged from deep hatred and disgust to respect and love. Excellent debut.
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The comparisons to Mexican Gothic are well-deserved, as Canas creates a memorably spooky house and strong female protagonist. Beatriz tries to find her way out of a desperate family situation by entering into a loveless marriage with a wealthy landowner, and is determined to make the best of the situation by repairing San Isidro and making life better for the local peasants. She soon finds out the house is much more than she bargained for, as it contains the vengeful spirit of her husband's deceased previous wife. Father Andres stands out, though, as the most memorable character, as his witchcraft sometimes complements and sometimes stands in opposition to his Catholicism as he attempts to help Beatriz and exorcise the evil. In addition to the supernatural horror, Canas effectively incorporates the historical horrors of colonialism, war, and economic exploitation.
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The heroine of this story is everything! She is exactly what I wish I would act like in a typical horror movie. You know, the kind where you question the character's insanely dumb choices. Well in this story, Beatriz is no pushover! When the malevolent entity inhabiting her new hacienda intends to scare the living daylights out of her, she pushes back. 

After marrying a wealthy hacendado for his status and wealth, a choice which she freely admits and has no shame over given her need to help her newly poor mother after her father's death, Beatriz sets her sights on submitting the ill kept hacienda to her will in the hope of bringing in her mother. The house however has different plans. With her secret keeping husband away on business and her new sister-in-law fighting her every decision, Beatriz finds herself alone when the house starts to reveal its evil intentions. In comes Padre Andres with a secret past connection to the house and a developing new connection to Beatriz. The two reveal the mystery behind the haunting, but not without going through some really terrifying scenes.

This story to me was Crimson Peak set in old world Mexico. Being of Mexican descent, I enjoyed the authenticity of the setting and characters. I once tried reading Mexican Gothic, but couldn't get past the first few chapters. This story had more relatable characters and once it picked up the scare, it didn't put it down. Despite its unoriginal villain, the evil-confronting heroine and rarely-portrayed historical setting were refreshingly original.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy in exchange for a review.
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I wasn't sure what to expect when reading this book, so was pleasantly surprised. 

After Beatriz' father is executed due to his political beliefs, her family is in a very difficult spot. Beatriz knows that she needs to use her charm and beauty, so she uses it with Rodolfo, in hopes to make a new home in his hacienda. What she doesn't realize is that there is evil in the hacienda, and it doesn't want her there. 

This book was quite creepy and unsettling and I loved it.
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Beatriz' father has been executed for his politics, and she and her mother find themselves in a very difficult situation. Enter handsome, rich, widowed Rodolfo, and Beatriz sees an opportunity to escape and make a new home; in his hacienda. Unfortunately, the hacienda isn't welcoming and an evil spirit isn't greeting her with open arms. This isn't a creepy house, it is a terrifying house that you will come to believe is capable of killing people. Don't read this book at night in the dark. If you do, I hope you have an Andres nearby to help you, or is he really helping at all .... Beatriz is young but she isn't naïve, and my favorite parts of the book is when she remembers she is a general's daughter and hoists herself up. You can't help but root for her to survive. This is a wonderful debut novel by Isabel Canas, and despite the horror, it is also historical fiction where you find out more about colonialism in Mexico and the caste system that defined many lives. An excellent read for many, but especially for those who are underrepresented in this type of literature.  
My thanks to NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Perfect for fans of Mexican Gothic and Rebecca (ie: ME!). I read this in one sitting and loved nearly everything about it. Fascinating history, a truly haunted house, a complicated love story, and a heroine to root for in Beatriz. That this is Isabel Canas' debut is very impressive and I can't wait for her next book.
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Imagine Crimson Peak and We Have Always Lived in This Castle had a demonic baby. But, like, without the incest. Then, raise it in colonial Mexico, salt it with 100% justified revenge, fucking men, a brujo priest (which is historically accurate - look at Santa Muerte worship, Santeria, Voodoo…), put some tequila on it, feed it your blood, and then brick it up in a wall for a few years. 

I am so here for it. 

The Hacienda was deliciously creepy, and oddly sexy, and didn’t shy away from challenging the politics of colonialism and the evils it wrought. None of that romantic bullshit here. People want and people need and people (and their ghosts) will do anything  to get whatever that is, even our erstwhile heroine. This book explains what we really mean when we say, “everyone has a price,” setting up each scenario in which a way that, just when we’re about to judge, we’re smacked in the face with a reminder that we too, have likely compromised, that we too, would probably sacrifice something, or someone, precious, for that one, shining, shimmering, It we’ve set our mind and heart and soul on. Does it make us evil? Not necessarily; sacrifice takes many forms. 

But the line is really very, very thin. 

Also? The idea of exorcising a house? I fucking love it. 

So, yes. For sure read. Do not wait for spooky season. I may reread it then, though. Which, y’all how often I do that. Never. The answer is never. So consider that my highest recommendation.
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This novel is true to form for the gothic suspense genre, but it left me wanting more from the characters. I never felt as if I knew any of them; I could not get inside their heads. The protagonist has a strong back story, but I was unable to relate to her or understand her motivations. 

Overall, while still an enjoyable read and an intriguing plot, the characters and the story could be improved by adding greater detail and explanations for the events. I give this title 3 stars because even though it was somewhat unsatisfying, I still wanted to finish it.
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Isabel Canas’ debut novel is a supernatural suspense story that can also be classified as horror. Largely set in a remote house in Mexico after the Mexican War of Independence from Spain, the author packs it with atmosphere, history, life, and memorable characters. Most of the book is set in 1823 with a few flashbacks.

The execution of Beatriz’s father and the loss of their home force Beatriz and her mother to live with relatives that treat them badly. When Don Rodolfo Eligio Solorzano proposes, Beatriz is willing to ignore the rumors about his first wife in order to have her own home again. However, the house is not the haven she expected. A poorly maintained house lacking furnishings and a housekeeper and sister-in-law that seem to hate her on site are only the beginning. Visions, voices, and red eyes looking at add to her nightmare. Something is wrong and she needs help. Turning to the witch turned priest Padre Andres, she hopes to find out what is wrong and fix it. Will she survive?

Beatriz is generally a strong character intent on survival and a new life. The horrors she faces will test her and her resilience. Rodolfo appears to be solid, reliable, and confident. However, rumors still follow him. Padre Andres has two ways of life battling for supremacy within him. The secondary characters have varying degrees of depth that is applicable for their roles in this story line.

The writing is fluid, flows well, and is very descriptive. A twisty and absorbing plot kept the pages turning. Building the tension and terror, the author expertly brings the young bride’s fears to life. Weaving love, survival, family, racism, socioeconomics, revenge, secrets, colonialism, religion, and folk beliefs into the story kept this reader on tenterhooks. 

Overall, this was a moving, engrossing, compelling, and memorable novel with some pivotal stressful and emotional times. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.
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The Hacienda shows us just how unsafe houses and strangers can be. The Hacienda is a riveting gothic horror that takes deeper and darker turns than you could imagine. It weaves Mexican history with grace and aplomb that treats it with dignity but does not shy away from the real horrors that Mexicans faced from the Spanish and during inquisitions, and from their own people. I can only hope to read more from this author. This book is captivating and moving, think Casita from Encanto but with horror in it's walls. Think of Crimson Peak with a home full of secrets and a sister in law who shows us from the start that there is more happening here than we can see. Think of A Long Fatal Love Chase and the solace that can be sought in unexpected places. Canas navigates difficult topics with finesse and a respect that is rare, especially in horror.
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This book is great! Would definitely recommend. Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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THE HACIENDA is a stellar example of one of my favorite genres of novel: a haunted-house gothic spookshow in which the real ghost is colonialism. The atmosphere is immersive, the forbidden romance is compelling, and several times I had to read one more chapter before bed because I couldn't turn off the lights on *that* image. This is a bold new voice in gothic horror, and fans will find lots to love here.
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A compelling and atmospheric horror story, with a solid mix of vengeful spirits, natural magic, and evil, greedy humans. The author's writing style was descriptive and elegant - definitely evocative of the time period and location. Recommended for those who can handle a dark, menacing-presence style haunting, as that is central to this story.
Horror is not one of my usual preferred genres, so I struggle to compare this to other similar books, but I do think that it was well-written. The romance fan in me was hoping for something akin to an HEA toward the end, but ultimately that would not have suited (though certain elements do get sorted out in the end).
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Reviewed for Shelf Awareness PRO. Review will go live 1-2 months prior to publication.
***
	Isabel Cañas takes readers to the 1823 Mexican countryside in her debut, The Hacienda, a dark gothic novel where a house is haunted by more than just the supernatural. Set just after the Mexican War of Independence, The Hacienda follows Beatriz, a young woman trying to build a better life for herself after her father is executed. After suffering at the hands of relatives who disdain her for her mixed heritage, Beatriz marries Don Rodolfo Solórzano and leaves the city for what she assumes will be a stable life as mistress of a thriving estate.
	What she finds instead is an empty, poorly maintained, menacing house and a sister-in-law who seems to hate her on sight. Determined to make the best of things, Beatriz begins restoring the gardens, furnishing the house and attempting to settle into the pueblo. The house has other ideas.
"Darkness clawed at me; cold hands yanked my hair, pawed my nightdress. Drumming erupted beneath my bare feet, thundering through the floor and following me to the head of head of the stairs. Unseen hands planted on my shoulders. Cold as ice. Hard as death." [p 238]
	Desperate for help, Beatriz appeals to the local church, but only the young mestizo priest Andrés believes her. As Beatriz spirals, sleepless and terrified, into possible madness, she uncovers secrets just as monstrous as the house about her husband, his dead first wife, his sister and maybe even Andrés. 
	The pages of The Hacienda are drenched in these secrets, but also in the real-life horrors of colonialism, patriarchy and the complicated and harmful casta system that reverberates through the generations.
As Cañas writes in her author's note, "...homes like Hacienda San Isidro were haunted by more than the supernatural.
Colonialism has carved the landscapes of our homes with ghosts. It left gaping wounds that still weep." [author's note, p 342]
	Cañas's writing is immersive and she skillfully builds an almost-palpable tension and terror that encompasses the evil that dwells in the house and the human actions from which it grows. The Hacienda is a blend of horror and mystery with a gothic heart, complete with a heroine on the brink of madness, running into the night in fear. This chilling read exposes the rotting soul of colonialism and manages to be wildly entertaining while doing so.--Suzanne Krohn, Librarian and Freelance Reviewer

Shelf Talker: The Hacienda is a gothic suspense set in 1823 Mexico, where a house is possessed by supernatural forces and the horrors of Spanish colonialism.
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Wow! This is a really scary and truly fascinating read. The setting is absolutely fascinating and had me Googling to learn more about where the story takes place. This book also inspired me to learn more about this period of history. Just an absolutely, all around, great book from a new perspective.
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I'm so glad horror and gothic fiction has made a comeback.  The Hacienda is also historically interesting.  I appreciate books set in locations, time periods and cultures that haven't been extensively written about, such as the aftermath of The Mexican War of Independence.  A character being a male witch and a priest is also unique.  
The Hacienda is one of my favorite reads this year.
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In the blurb it was being compared to Rebecca and Mexican Gothic. I had enjoyed both of those books and couldn’t wait to dive into another atmospheric setting involving a house. And besides, how can you say no to that cover?

The book is told from two point-of-views, Beatriz and Andrés. I didn’t feel like I connected to either one which is a shame. They are both trying to find out what is going on at the hacienda and they won’t stop at nothing, especially Andrés who has been a frequent visitor before Beatriz’s arrival. I do think that it was good to have both point-of-views since one had more history there than the other. It added more context which I liked.

The side characters felt like just that, side characters. They were kind of one dimensional and from the beginning I had my suspicion which ended up being right.

The author does a great job at creating a new setting and making it her own. There are similarities to the other books it is compared to but she adds her own spin to the ghostly tale. I personally didn’t find it as appealing as the others but I liked the originality.

For me, the mystery felt a bit flat and I’m not sure if it was the writing or me.

Overall, even though I had some issues with it I still liked what I read.
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HOLY WOW, what a book! Lush and atmospheric with tons of historic details, a hot priest, and so much spookiness.

In the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, newly-wed Beatriz travels to her husband's hacienda. After her husband returns to Mexico City, she begins to realize something is very wrong about the house. Strange noises escalate to stranger sights and supernatural occurrences, and soon Beatriz finds herself at the center of a full-blown and dangerous haunting. Her sister-in-law and the servants in the hacienda are no help, so she turns to the local priest (who's secretly a witch) for help. Together, they seek to banish the ghost from the house... while a simmering, forbidden attraction grows between them.

You know that feeling you get alone in your apartment when you mistakenly chose to watch a horror movie at midnight with the lights off? That's what I felt reading this at noon on a sunny Tuesday. I jumped when the phone rang.

Beatriz is a tough, intelligent heroine willing to fight for what's hers. Padre Andrés is the witchy priest hero I never knew I needed. The tension! The longing! The really, really creepy bumps in the night! And the writing, oh, the writing! I could see, hear, and smell everything on the page. It was poetic, vivid, and a pure delight to read. This story is going to stick with me for a long time.
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I'm not much of a horror reader these days, but this book - it was just impossible to put down. A haunted house story set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, the setting is just incredibly described. Cañas makes you smell the air and feel the creepy chill settling over your skin. Add in all the gothic elements - a poor but determined heroine, a former wife who died mysteriously, a handsome but unknowable husband, and a priest who is more than he appears - and I couldn't stop turning the pages. But The Hacienda is also a story of racism and classism, corrupt religious institutions, and the wounds war leaves behind. All told with gorgeous skill!
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This was a very satisfying gothic novel, and although it took me a little while to become invested in the story I found it hard to put down once I did. I see that it is being marketed as "Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca" - and while I don't necessarily disagree with this as far as the most basic outline of the story goes, this book is truly an original story that stands alone in its own right. In full disclosure, I'd felt disappointed with Mexican Gothic because to me it wasn't really a gothic novel (I'd say it is a science fiction novel that happens to take place in a creepy old mansion). So, while reading The Hacienda I couldn't help but keep thinking "THIS is what I had wanted Mexican Gothic to be!" - and then some. Canas, who is also a historian, has also done an outstanding job in creating her setting, her atmosphere, her plot, and some truly unique, original characters. 

Thanks to Netgalley and to the publisher for allowing me an advance copy in exchange for review.
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