Please excuse me while I fan girl and gush over this book. Mexican Gothic was on my radar months ago and I have been eager to read it ever since I downloaded my ARC back in February.
That cover is outstanding and the whole summary spoke to my dark heart. One of my favorite authors is Victoria Holt and I absolutely adore all of her books. The author of this book, Silvia Moreno-Garcia wrote a fantastic piece in the book club kit for this book all about the popularity of novels similar to Victoria Holt. It’s worth reading so you should absolutely check it out.
This book was also a Book of the Month pick for July and has been getting a TON of hype especially with the movement for inclusiveness and BIPOC authors in the publishing industry. I think this book came at just the right time and it’s a gem!
An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic artistocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets…
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 and smart, with 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. (summary from Goodreads)
How do I even begin to review this book? There are so many points that I want to hit on and discuss and so much that I want to praise but don’t want this post to be thousands of words long! Let me start by saying that if anyone wants to discuss how amazing this book is, EMAIL ME! I would love to discuss! I also included the PDF book club kit here, it has tons of cool stuff in it including a paper doll of Noemí which you don’t want to miss. This was a great addition to the novel and I loved reading the author notes.
I know that some people criticized this book as not being ‘horror enough’. Some reviews I read felt that this book just scratched the surface of horror and didn’t dive into more complex themes in the genre. Some also said that this book played on typical horror troupes and didn’t bring anything ‘new’ to the genre. I need to say how much I disagree with some of these reviews. While I might be new to horror, I think the point of this book was to bring back some of the splendor and adoration for the classic modern Gothic novels such as Rebecca and other authors like Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. I definitely got that impression after I read the piece by the author in the book club kit.
Could the tropes and themes have been more nuanced and explored? Sure, but as it was, I loved this book and felt that it was perfect for fans of the classic modern Gothic novel such as me. This book is categorized as horror but if you don’t read horror or aren’t into that genre really, I think you will still like this book. There are supernatural elements and a haunted house, but if you love historical fiction I think you would still find something to love in this book. It had a lot to recommend itself!
One of the big things that stood out to me in this book as unique was the setting. I adored the setting of this book. So many Gothic novels are set in England and with this one being set in Mexico, I thought it added an exotic feel while at the same time conjuring classic images of the foggy English moors. Now when I think of Mexico I don’t think of desert landscapes, but rather foggy cliffs and ravines. The author did an excellent job with the setting.
The main character Noemí was just the right amount of sassy and defiant to be interesting and likable. On the surface she seemed like such a spoiled brat but as we got to know her, it was clear she had a soft spot for her cousin, Catalina, and wanted to help her in any way that she could. Francis was the unlikely and unexpected hero of the book. There wasn’t any need for a romance in this one but we got a little romance all the same and I thought it was sweet and I loved that Naomi went for the underdog instead of the ‘dangerous’ man who dominates the genre.
This book is probably going to be one of my favorite reads of the year. It was haunting and nostalgic at the same time. I have been searching for modern takes on the classic Gothic novel and all I ever seem to find are domestic suspense novels…..this book was written for me and I absolutely loved it. I sure hope she writes more novels like this or even set in this same world with new or familiar characters from this book. I can’t sing the splendor of this book any louder! Read it, you will love it!
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