“Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Del Rey, June 2020, $27.00.
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.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia, author of Gods of Jade and Shadow, presents another captivating story. With crisp and expressive writing, she lays out a lush setting in the Mexican countryside and pieces of a plot that come together to form an intriguing whole. Noemí, the main character, was a very likable and strong character that really carried the story forward. I admired her self-assurance and determination to make sure her cousin was safe. Like many gothic books, the story was slow at times, but those who enjoy an atmospheric setting won’t be bothered by that.
Although I felt the story was over-explained a bit at the end (taking away some of the element of mystery), it was original and interesting and overall I was satisfied. I feel that Moreno-Garcia could use the time period of her setting a little more to her advantage and really make it feel like a vintage horror, but some people may like the timeless feel of the book. Overall, Mexican Gothic is an exciting new read that will entrance readers.