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If you’re looking for classic gothic horror that doesn’t shy away from the macabre, you can’t do better than Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. For me, the best ghost stories are those that place the unwitting protagonist in a situation she has no desire to be a part of. In this case, the unlucky girl is Noemí Taboada. She is rich and spoiled, and her chief concern seems to be which party she will attend next. Like the best heroes, though, Noemí is layered. She’s whip-smart, headstrong, and caring. And a little calculating. Her cousin is in trouble somewhere in the countryside, and Noemí’s father wants her to investigate. She agrees, but not before obtaining a quid pro quo. And so, with enough dresses and shoes to weather a trip abroad, she embarks on a lonely journey to High Place.
Sometimes, stories of horror and madness escalate too quickly, subjecting the reader to a dizzying intensity that’s difficult to sustain without resulting in boredom. That’s not the case with this novel. What I loved best about the book is the author’s carefully crafted ascent that, like the town situated below High Place, takes its time. But there’s a dark side to this kind of storytelling; Noemí is on an inexorable path that must deliver her to her final destination. The question, of course, is whether she and her ailing cousin will survive the journey.
When you read Mexican Gothic, fix yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate. Wrap yourself in your favorite blanket and prepare to experience a deliciously original tale—a deathless dream of family gloom.
You can find this review at Goodreads.
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.
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