published: 30th June 2020
From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a reimagining of the classic gothic suspense novel, a story about an isolated mansion in 1950s Mexico — and the brave socialite drawn to its treacherous secrets.
He is trying to poison me. You must come for me, Noemí. You have to save me.
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, smart, and has 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.
Galley provided by publisher
CWs: attempted rape, racism, cannibalism, incest, child death, descriptions of gore & body horror
I would be the first to admit that horror/gothic/paranormal genres do not usually feature prominently on my reading lists. But it was Silvia Moreno-Garcia. What was I supposed to do?
And Silvia Moreno-Garcia being Silvia Moreno-Garcia, she smashes it out of the park. Her style is so perfectly suited to the story, and the way she slowly ratchets up the creepy tension is just unbelievable. It is pretty much the perfect novel.
Mexican Gothic is, as the title suggests, a gothic novel set in Mexico. It follows Noemí, whose cousin writes to her father to ask for help, saying something about how her husband, a man they barely know, is poisoning her. When Noemí arrives, she finds a creepy house and a threatening family, but no clear indication of why her cousin is feeling like this.
As ever, Moreno-Garcia’s writing is beautiful and evocative. It’s perfect for the setting because it makes everything just that bit more creepy. That and the way she builds tension just makes the whole thing brilliant. I am very glad I didn’t read this at night because I would definitely have scared myself too much.
I think the only thing that could have made this book better was if I had actually read any gothic literature. It’s like that time I read Northanger Abbey and didn’t get half the humour of it. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy this book not having read gothic literature, I just think it adds to the appreciation of it all (I mean, the wallpaper, I think, would make more sense if I knew what it was about). And that’s probably why, for me, it was 4 stars and not 5.
But anyway. This is definitely a book you all need to be getting on as soon as it’s out.