You must come for me, Noemí. You have to save me. I cannot save myself as much as I wish to, I am bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin and it’s there. In the walls. It does not release its hold on me so I must ask you to spring me free, cut it from me, stop them now.
Between reading and adoring GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW last year (my review here) and the huge amount of hype around MEXICAN GOTHIC I knew I had to get my hands on this book. When I got accepted for a review copy, it catapulted to the top of my TBR, because c’mon. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and a creepy gothic house? This is guaranteed to be good. MEXICAN GOTHIC releases on June 30th 2020 so make sure you get your pre-order in!
Rating: 4 stars!
Thanks to Jo Fletcher Books for the review copy of Mexican Gothic, this hasn’t affected my honest review.
Trigger warnings: graphic violence, gore and body horror, incest, family and child deaths, murder, sexism, racism, sexual harassment.
Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside after receiving a frantic letter begging from help from her cousin, newly-wed to a handsome Englishman who is a stranger to Noemí. Noemí is an unlikely hero, a glamorous debutante suited more to cocktail parties than sleuthing. But she’s tough and smart and not afraid of her cousin’s menacing and alluring husband, not afraid of his father and not afraid of the house itself that is invading Noemí’s dreams.
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.
What did I think?
This book totally lived up to the hype. And it certainly lived up to the gothic part of its name. One of the things I adored about Gods of Jade and Shadow was the atmosphere that Moreno-Garcia created and Mexican Gothic was even better when it came to building that atmosphere up until it was so thick that I could taste it. It’s a little bit slower paced than the books I usually read, but so good that I didn’t even mind it like I usually would. The slower pace lets the entire book become threaded with tension and dread. As I was reading I felt the whole time that everything was about to get worse and worse. And I had absolutely no idea how it was going to happen. Even having read the trigger warnings, I was still completely blind-sided by the twists this book took. I loved how unpredictable the plot was, and it really added to the gothic horror. I felt like in High Place anything was possible, and that made me really feel for Noemí. If I was freaked out reading about it, she must have been terrified living in it.
The house feels like a character all of its own, vivid and ever-present, and its presence overshadows every scene. Even when Noemí isn’t in the house itself, it feels like it’s always there. There’s an amazing sense of watchfulness that makes it feel like the walls themselves are watching and listening to Noemí as she tries to find a way to save her cousin, and there’s nothing quite so terrifying as feeling like there’s nowhere she can go to be safe. Amazing settings are exactly what I expect from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who writes some of the best scenery I’ve ever read. The mining aspects of the novel seem to me to be lovingly researched, and it felt like I was looking in on a real snippet of history. The ‘English-ness’ of High Place compared to the incredible Mexican landscapes and the village that Noemí visits was almost jarring, and I loved the way that both were created. Honestly, the more of Moreno-Garcia’s work I read, the more desperate I am to finally make good on our travel plans to visit Mexico one day.
The story is definitely more plot driven than character driven, but that doesn’t mean the characters weren’t up to Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s usual amazing standard. They were interesting and distinct and I loved the way that they were written. One in particular felt so unnerving that I wanted to look over my shoulder to check he wasn’t hovering near me. I adored Noemí in particular, though that’s no surprise. She’s young and flighty and has something to prove – but she’s also persistent and intelligent and for all her flighty nature she’s unerringly loyal to her family. I liked the fact that she was so fiercely independent and young, and I think that the way she was written gave so much debutante personality that I could see her sweeping around parties. There’s a little romance in this book, kind of, but it’s not even remotely the focus and I’m glad of that. There’s so much going on in the house that overrides Noemí’s moments of attraction, because the threat and dread is so much more important. There’s nothing that annoys me more in a book than characters in grave danger mooning over love instead of focusing on the imminent death, but Noemí is too smart for that.
Add it on Goodreads here!