When I initially picked up Mexican Gothic the Summer of 2021, there had already been a year’s worth of praise for Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s rich, dark, and eerie thriller; so naturally, my expectations were pretty high. Its’ supernatural elements lends itself in telling a gripping account of murder, mystery, horror, and exploitation; told through the eyes of the novel’s protagonist, Noemi Taboada. Silvia Moreno-Garcia also employs themes of race and social class, quietly treading throughout its’ narrative, slowly interweaving within the novel’s plot.
Mexican Gothic is described as, “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.”
Allow me to preface my initial expectations of Mexican Gothic by stating that due to its’ rave reviews, I was driven to read through it with minimal interruptions as possible. For starters, Silvia Moreno-Garcia is an extremely talented writer. Her influences are littered from cover to cover with the likes of H.P Lovecraft, Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and Joyce Carol Oates to name a few. Rather than recreate a carbon copy of her heroes, she conjures an original story that’s beautifully wrapped in gothic lore with a hint of Lovecraft madness. Moreno-Garcia’s ability to constantly keep readers in a state of unease is done so effectively.
Our protagonist, Noemi Taboada, comes to the aid of her cousin, Catalina, on an English-owned estate (High Place) on the country side of a Mexican mining town. During her stay in High Place, Noemi is confronted by the monster of social hierarchy and racism that plagues the estate. Rather than a play-by-play of horror sequences and action, Moreno-Garcia deconstructs these internal monsters meanwhile slowly unveiling the horrifying nightmare that resides within this haunting manor. A slow-burn novel? Yes. But one that drives the narrative by employing a character driven, atmospheric, and immersive plot rather than focusing on cheap scares and fast-paced events. But don’t let a character driven narrative fool you into thinking this is not a horror novel. As the events unfold, Noemi uncovers the darkest secrets of not only High Place, but an ancient evil that has plagued the Mexican town for ages.
By the third act of Mexican Gothic, the novel’s climax kept me gripping its’ pages to the end. I’ll admit, it takes a while for this novel to truly pick up pace. Yet there are enough haunting events in Mexican Gothic that kept my engaged and curious enough to keep the pages turning. Mexican Gothic is a high recommend and if you enjoy spending your time in a haunted house with mysterious sounds that will wake you at night, this book is for you. Enjoy. Here’s an internet high five!