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Katia Reviews "Mexican Gothic"


Katia reviews Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.


For readers of horror and Gothic Literature alike, Mexican Gothic, set in Mexico in the 1950s, is as charming as it is deeply distressing. Our heroine, Noemí Taboada, is called from her glamorous life in Mexico City to investigate a strange letter from her cousin, Catalina, who has recently married and disappeared into the countryside. Catalina begs for Noemí to save her, writing: He is trying to poison me. Thus, our heroine journeys to High Place, an old mansion on a misty mountain where her cousin lives with her new husband, and where all sorts of truly disturbing events ensue.


Silvia Moreno-Garcia incorporates many Gothic elements, but always with fresh, contemporary twists. We have, of course, a cast of classic creepy, racist white people: the Doyle family, into which Catalina has married (for reasons beyond comprehension). But Noemí is not the kind of heroine to swallow the indignities that the Doyle family inflict upon her, and she fights back from the start, arguing with the head of the family about his eugenic theories, and relying on her sharp intuition to slowly unearth Doyle family secrets.


Noemí has become one of my favorite protagonists; she is not only relatable, she is also the protagonist we would all hope to be if we were placed in her unsavory situation. She is flawed, yes, but very brave and full of love. Ever slowly, she feels the tendrils of this cold, unforgiving mansion, and this cold, unforgiving family curl around her, but she is whip-smart, strong-willed, and will not leave until she can rescue her cousin, who seems to have been overtaken by the dark will of High Place.


Mexican Gothic does a delicious job of never providing too much information at once, and you follow the narrative compulsively, as the tension and horror build. Is this your typical haunting of malignant spirits, or, perhaps, is it even more sinister and deep-rooted than that? In this truly clever, stylish, and chilling novel, Silvia Moreno Garcia proves that there is something even more frightening than ghosts: the terrible cruelty of other people.


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