‘Mexican Gothic’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Book Review)

Mexican Gothic

Publication Date: June 2020

Genres: Historical Fiction, Gothic, Horror

Summary: He is trying to poison me. You must come for me, Noemí. You have to save me.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find — her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough, smart, and has an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

My thoughts:

Mexican Gothic held so much promise but couldn’t quite deliver its gory, on-the-edge-of-my-seat gothic thriller I thought I would receive. While the premise was fascinating and sucked me right in, I had to drag my way through the initial 1/3 of the novel before I finally found myself in the groove of the story filled with vivid descriptions of the house that sometimes dragged on in a way that didn’t truly grip my attention.

It felt as though the story was heavily reliant on descriptions rather than actions to create this horrifying atmosphere around High Place. While I do enjoy striking descriptions, it didn’t quite put me into the heart of the story but rather disinterested me because we were held at arms length from the characters of the tale who perked my curiosity but never quite felt connected to them. 

One of Mexican Gothic’s biggest weakness was the fact that we always stayed pretty surface level in terms of characterization and plot. Noemí shows up at High Place in hopes of checking in on her cousin, the driving force of the plot, who claimed this cryptic family she married into was hurting her, but we never actually get to know her cousin besides some superficial facts about her. I would have loved to have heard stories from her to learn more about her experiences in the High Place, but instead, she is pushed to the background of the plot and only appears a handful of times. This goes the same for the family at The High Place who coulnd’t quite grasp my attention nor did they interest me greatly despite them being at the center of the plot. 

Also, as a romance feind, I have to say that the romance wasn’t necessary to the plotline. There was little to no chemistry between the two characters who fall for one another during dire circumstances, and for once, I have to admit that their romance wasn’t believable nor was it very interesting to read about. It felt more like an effort to lighten the plot, but left me bored instead. 

I was very excited for Mexican Gothic, but I’m sad to say that the story fell flat for me and failed to deliver, in terms of being a gothic horror. I simply wasn’t intrigued by the story, the writing style was tough to get through, and the characters were very 1 dimensional, leaving space between me, the reader, and the story that I wish could have sucked me in. 

CONTENT WARNINGS: Sexual assault, incest

Mexican Gothic links: Goodreads | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

ALSO TRY: The Haunting of Hill House (A Netflix Original)

NOTE: A physical copy of this novel was provided to me by Del Rey. All opinions are my own.