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.
The combination of this book being gothic horror and written by Silvia Moreno-Garcia was really all I needed to know to want to read Mexican Gothic. Silvia Moreno-Garcia does everything I love about that genre really well and more.
A very old house in a secluded spot, full of dark secrets is exactly my kind of tea, and with a story of a woman and her “mysterious doom” it quickly made me think I just stumbled into something close to my personal worst nightmare. Add to that some downright creepy dudes you just wait to move into (sexual) assault territory and you quickly arrive at “I want out of here!”, and as the reader you could, only that your just as much stuck to the pages, as Noemí is unwilling to leave her cousin alone in that house, no matter how bad it gets.
When you’re familiar with lots of stories like this one, stories about big old houses and their odd, creepy inhabitants being up to some weird shit, you might think this is just the same old stuff you’ve seen so many times before. Even if the book were just the typical plot points and clichés one is so very familiar with (and I’m not saying it is) it’s still the execution and writing that matters, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia definitely kept me captivated with hers.
The story was just so much… more, it goes far beyond the usual tropes.
The characters were more in every way I expected them to be. The bad ones a lot creepier and messed up. The good ones a lot braver (I’ll never not be thankful for heroines in horror not falling into white-male clichés). The true horror of the story went a lot deeper; it was weirder and darker than I first thought.
My favorite aspect of reading Mexican Gothic was definitely the slow transition from me thinking “okay yeah, this is THAT typical scenario, it’s creepy, yet cozy, I love it” to “THE FUCK??” when I learned what that family is really up to.
At the center of the book is a story about eugenics/race and by using rich symbolism, it slowly leads you to the real horror of this house. A gothic horror that ups the repulsion level to the max while going way past the usual tropes.
This being the third book I’ve read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, I’ve come to think she can write just about any genre. Gothic horror, historical crime fiction, urban fantasy,… I enjoyed them all and Mexican Gothic is just another to add to my “highly recommended” list.
This post is part of the Mexican Gothic Blog Tour by Jo Fletcher Books. Make sure to check out other reviews today as well!