Mexican Gothic

Paperback, 352 pages

Published June 15, 2021 by Del Rey.

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4 stars (17 reviews)

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . . From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.

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 …

9 editions

Gothic horror + biting satire of colonisers

5 stars

This ended up being the third of 4 stories I read this year that were all variations on the Fall of the House of Usher (including the original), and I think it's my favourite. The slow pace with which the protagonist (and by extension us the readers) learn what exactly is up with the house felt realistic and made for great tension because there's such a long period in which it's clear that something is Very Wrong but not what it is. And along the way Moreno-Garcia gets in some choice digs about what colonisers are and do, including to themselves and each other. Deliciously gruesome.

#SFFBookClub May 2023

Mexican Gothic

4 stars

It was interesting to read this book so soon after reading What Moves the Dead. I can see why Ursula Vernon wrote about it in her afterword as being a similar setup and recommended that everybody go read it immediately.

The book itself is immensely creepy and I found it very compelling. The plot setup is that socialite Noemí is asked by her powerful father to go investigate what's going on with her cousin Catalina's marriage in an isolated rural mansion. The creepy atmosphere is spectacularly well done: a decrepit remote mansion, very little electricity, locked windows, strange dreams, family secrets, suspicious local history, the overly strict housekeeper with too many rules (silence! no hot baths! no coffee!), also the household's obsession with eugenics and "superior races".

The book's pacing was excellent for me. There is a slow build of mystery and unexplainable occurrences. Backstory is slowly revealed, but there's …

Really compelling second half

4 stars

I won't write a lot because I'm afraid of giving spoilers. The other reviewers here summed up the book nicely. I only knew about this and read it because it is one of the books in this year's Canada Reads. I don't know how it fits the year's theme, and it doesn't feel at all Canadian (despite the nationality of the author), but that shouldn't take away from the book itself.

I understand that Mexican Gothic will be a TV series on Hulu! This is fantastic news, as it is absolutely perfect material for this sort of thing.

Some thoughts: it's a fun, pulpy ride! I was always a huge fan of The House on Haunted Hill (both the original and the remake), so this was a great time. I was confused, though, at the repeated references that the book took place in the 1950s, as there was really nothing …

Lush and Atmospheric

4 stars

Mareno-Garcia presents a lush and atmospheric excursion into the gothic genre. Noemí Taboada is a wealthy strong-willed Mexican socialite who finds herself playing the uncanny hero after receiving a bewildering letter from her cousin, Catalina. The letter propels Noemí to travel to her cousin’s new home, High Place – an isolated English-style mansion – to check on Catalina’s mysterious behavior. Noemi is greeted by moldy wallpaper and in-laws bent on eugenics. Her stay at High Place only feels more and more menacing with each passing night as the unimaginable horrors become more and more richly detailed. Recommended for avid horror or suspense readers who just finished and loved “The Death of Jane Larence” by Caitlin Startling or “Tripping Arcadia” by Kit Mayquist for the creepy underpinnings and culturally diverse characters.

Review of 'Mexican Gothic' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Like Nancy Drew and Scooby-Doo, but with an unfortunate shot of gross-out horror.

I loved the setting and the main character, and would be happy (no, ecstatic) to read more of Noemí Taboada's adventures and hijinks and supernatural mysteries.

But while the ending is probably fine for many, it's not my cup of tea. I also felt like the first half of so of the book was a bit too slow, leaving the last half to race by at breakneck pace in order to cover all the ground it needed to cover.

Still, the indefatigable, ingenious, and dangerously charming main character was more than worth my quibbles with the ending. I hope she returns.

Review of 'Mexican Gothic' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Last night, ten to fifteen minutes of light pre-bed reading turned into an hour and a half of obsessive page turning. Today, even in daylight, my own victorian house feels creepy and weird. I blame the San Francisco fog.

A quick précis of the plot: Noemí's father gets a concerning letter from her newlywed cousin Catalina. He dispatches Noemí to visit her and investigate, and so she treks to rural Hidalgo and Catalina's new home, a ramshackle decaying old-money mansion owned by the local mining family. Our mystery starts with "what's wrong with Catalina?", and quickly spirals into "what's wrong with this house?" and "what's wrong with this family?"

Every line in this novel is building something: either putting a new brick into the wall of its immersive setting, or bringing the main character Noemí to life, or putting her into jeopardy. The creepy, ramshackle old mansion that's at the …