THIS BOOK! This book was at the top of my TBR list for months. The second I read the description, I KNEW this book would be right up my alley! It’s been described as a cross between Rebecca and Mexican Gothic, both of which I loved for different reasons and I think this is absolutely an accurate description of the story. I would also recommend it to anyone who loves Simone St James—-if you love her ghost stories, you will love this book!
I wanted to bust into this book the second it came in the mail, but I held off until it was a little closer to the release day. And let me just tell you that was so hard! I loved the book so much, that I also downloaded the Audible version so I could compare how reading the story was different from listening to it. Personally I liked the Audible version better but reading it was just as exciting.
This book has been on many many top recommended lists and also was featured on Book of the Month. I can say with absolute conviction that this book was absolutely worth all the hype. I loved how rich it was with folklore, religion, and socioeconomics of the time period. This is much more than just a ghost story or a horror story—it had a lot of topics that I think would also work for book clubs. This is the rare book that really works for a lot of people even if you are not a fan of horror or ghost stories.
Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches…
In the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father is executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.
But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.
When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark its doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?
Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will help her.
Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness.
Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom. (summary from Goodreads)
I can easily say this is the best book I have read all year. I know that it will be hard to top this one for me. It was so good, and had just the right amount of creepiness and suspense. I loved how intertwined folklore was with the Catholic religion in the region. This story involves a priest who is also a witch, during a time when the Inquisition was dominating much of Mexico. There was a lot of caste issues during this time within the people and I just loved reading about this rich and relatively unknown time period in Mexico to me. I know only the basics of Mexican history so diving into this one, the history provided a rich and exciting landscape for me to explore. I loved how closely folklore and religion worked together, it was just so so good for this reason alone.
The ghost story was definitely more graphic in nature than just a ‘haunted house’. There was a little more—-I hesitate toe say gore, but maybe more descriptions of the ghost and the nature of her being. I loved how the house and the ghost were separate entities but yet were tied together in a supernatural way. Fans of horror/ghost stories will find that this book has a great balance with those elements but it’s not so graphic and terrifying that people are are not fans of horror will be turned off. All around I think the ghost story was fantastic and I loved watching how it evolved and changed as the story went on.
This one also had an unexpected romance part to it and I just LOVED how that came about. I don’t know that I loved how it ended, but ultimately it was really fitting and intentionally open. I loved Andres as not only a romantic interest but as the hero. He was a well developed and thought out character. Pairing him with Beatriz who is herself strong and scrappy, was such a great match. I loved them together and watching them come together romantically was surprising and satisfying. This book was EASILY 5 stars for me and I cannot wait for more books by this author! If they are even a TINY bit like this one then I know they are going to be good! This author has earned an auto buy status from me!
Book Info and Rating
Format: Hardcover and Audible 352 pages
Published: May 3rd 2022 by Berkley Books
Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars (can I give it more?!?)
Genre: horror, ghost story, historical fiction