This is my first venture into horror reading and I’m not a huge fan of being scared so going into it I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I decided to read this pretty much after seeing so many positive reviews. I figured I like to try most books that create a buzz or I see all over the place, and if I got too scared I could just tap out. I did finish it though, and whilst I found it quite disturbing I really enjoyed it as a novel.
Mexican Gothic is a hybrid style of book that mixes gothic literature, horror and magical realism all into one unique read. When Noemí’s father receives a disturbing letter from her cousin begging to be rescued from her Husbands family, he sends Noemí to investigate. Noemí arrives at High Place, a remote estate in the Mexican countryside and immediately things feel wrong, but determined to help her cousin she sticks around and tries to uncover what’s really going on. But as time passes Noemí gets more and more sucked into the strange happenings at High Place and questions her own sanity and if she will ever be able to leave.
“Noemí, just because there are no ghosts it doesn’t mean you can’t be haunted. Nor that you shouldn’t fear the haunting.”
This novel is certainly creepy, and you are hit instantly with this sense of wrong that seeps through everything. From the gothic mansion that sits on the vast estate, to the foggy cemetery and the quiet village, the landscape really sets a dramatic stage for the story to unfold. I loved how this atmosphere was so cleverly created to be so unsettling, without coming out and directly saying the landscape was unsettling. Instead the author used detailed descriptions and beautiful language to build a setting that embodied the gothic and horror elements of the novel.
“Our bodies hide so many mysteries and they tell so many stories without a single word”
Similarly, our characters all exude strange and creepy vibes, yet still manage to be all quite different which I appreciated. We have the racist and gross Grandpa, the charming and handsome Husband, the controlling and rigid Aunt and the friendly yet weak Cousin who all somehow come off as potentially truthful and distrustful at the same time. The inhabitants of High Place are front and centre throughout the novel, but our supporting cast also includes some intriguing characters that seem equally effected by the horrors of High Place despite not being part of the family.
“You’re very silly or very brave, living in a haunted house.”
Noemí herself I found a great main character, tough and determined to save her cousin but also smart about her choices and how she goes about figuring out the mysteries of High Place and its inhabitants.
There are also some elements to this novel that I didn’t expect as we are confronted with discussions of race, social inequalities, purity and incest. On top of that we have a host of disturbing happenings and issues which were extremely challenging to read at times yet more expected in a horror novel I think.
“The world might indeed be a cursed circle; the snake swallowed its tail and there could be no end, only an eternal ruination and endless devouring.”
All these elements leave you constantly trying work out what is going on underneath the surface, and though a little slow paced at times the book does well to escalate the tension and push the stakes higher as it progresses. There are little elements along the way that I did guess, but essentially this one builds towards a big reveal as things come to a point. I did find the conclusion maybe a little bit fast and could have done with more aftermath but I feel like this is pretty typical for books that culminate in a bang of an ending.
I’m glad I picked this one up but equally glad I did not read it in the dark at night!
I read this for my Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt “a genre hybrid”. You can check out my progress here.