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October 15, 2020

Mexican Gothic | Spooky Book Reviews

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It’s October! So I thought I’d come back from hiatus with some spooky reads for you all! Over the summer I read Mexican Gothic, a psychological thriller set in the 1950s in Mexico.

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Content Warning: Racism and white supremacy, including discussion of eugenics, Attempted rape, Incest, Suicide discussed, Miscarriage and stillbirths, Alcohol consumption, Recreational drug use (smoking), Hallucinations, Cannibalism, Gore depiction and body horror, Murder, Death of a Child, Death of a parent and family members discussed

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a novel set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed 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.

(GoodReads)

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Review

I usually don’t read reviews before doing my own, but I felt the need to read a few before reading this book for one reason: I really like mushrooms. I heard this book makes you hate mushrooms, but I have really fond memories of cooking with them as a kid at my grandma’s house. I’ve always loved them and I really didn’t want this book to ruin those memories. So For the first time, I did extensive research before reading where I read a few reviews trying to avoid any spoilers that didn’t have to do with mushrooms.

We (my fiancée and I) came to the conclusion that if you know where mushrooms come from and it doesn’t bother you this book will be fine. Or alternatively if you just don’t like mushrooms anyway then you’ll be fine. I have been shuddering a little more at mushroom themed fall décor at Joann’s this year though.

What fascinates me about Silvia Moreno-Garcia‘s writing is how she holds tension. A lot of people said the beginning was slow, which it definitely is if you’re expecting this to be a full on horror novel. What it really is is a brilliant use of tension for a psychological thriller that had me waiting for something to go wrong at every corner. This book is the type of novel that doesn’t give you answers until the very end and the whole while a sense of unease washes over the pages in the best way possible. It makes you wonder which characters are trustworthy, which ones are unreliable, and what is truely going on.

For a while into the story, I became convinced that the only nefarious thing going on was the family’s blatant racism, but it’s a lot deeper than that. The symbolism is rich and builds on itself beautifully over the course of the book and the characters (good or bad) are complex and powerful in their actions. Overall, Mexican Gothic was a chilling read that is perfect for a chilly afternoon read this spooky season. Maybe just not right before bed.

Have you read Mexican Gothic? Sound off in the comments!


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