About the Book
Noemi Taboada is a twenty-two year old glamorous socialite who agrees to visit her cousin, Catalina, after a letter claiming that Catalina’s husband, the mysterious Virgil Doyle, is trying to poison her. Set in 1950’s Mexico against the backdrop of a crumbling, old mansion, Noemi attempts to investigate Catalina’s illness under the watchful eye of the Doyle family, and perhaps, even the house itself…
I adore tense stories. I loved Daphne du Maurier’s, “Rebecca”, so I jumped at the chance to read and review an advance copy of gothic horror Mexican Gothic. It was provided by the publisher, Jo Fletcher Books, via the book review site Netgalley. It promised tension, and let me tell you, it delivered.
Mexican Gothic is a sumptuous gothic horror with serious style and bite. Set in 1950’s Mexico against a backdrop of the misty Hidalgo mountains, the crumbling old mansion High Place has a personality of its own. Lit by candles and full of silver from the mines, it’s a foreboding and ugly house that oozes nightmarish hallucinations. Moreover, when paired with a cemetery “with a romantic aura” you have one memorable haunted house.
This is Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s first horror novel. Similarly to filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, she was inspired by the Mexican horror films director Carlos Enrique Taboada. Best known for his supernatural, horror and suspense films including award-winning Poison for the Fairies. Mexican Gothic’s heroine, Noemi Taboada’s surname is a homage to the filmmaker.
I adored Noemi who is a strong-willed, flighty, stubborn heroine reminiscent of Holly Golightly. There’s a delightful contrast between Noemi and her romantic cousin Catalina that is striking, like night and day. The romance element, that is typical of gothic horror, is rooted in the guy who treats women badly – think Rochester in Wuthering Heights – but women in gothic literature somehow find them sexy and appealing. Even though they, logically, may be repulsive.
The supporting characters, the Doyle family, fit this eerie and unnerving house like a glove. From the ancient and mysterious Howard to enigmatic Virgil, strict Florence and shy Francis. They feed the dark undertones during Noemi’s stay. Imposing silent meals and sinister discussions on eugenics – selective breeding – while Noemi wears glamorous evening attire and speaks her mind in rebellion. Above all, this is a fiercely feminist novel. Think Lovecraft meets the Brontes.
Mexican folklore and culture are woven throughout the story, like the party-goers wearing Chinas Poblanas – traditional Mexican clothing – in the opening chapter. Similarly, Catalina references old fairytale stories and the house itself flesh out the narrative. I was immersed in the layers upon layers of divine tension. Gothic fans, eat your heart out.
Mexican Gothic is an opulent eldritch fantasy that terrified, repulsed and delighted me. It also inspired a something-is-in-my-room nightmare. I simply adored it. Silvia Moreno-Garcia said that Mexican Gothic is for the “trashy but classy reader”.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
About the Author
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the best-selling author of the novels Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, Certain Dark Things, Untamed Shore, and others. She has also edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows. Visit her website, or follow her on Twitter.
A selection of extra reading resources:
“People should read more horror. We don’t give horror enough respect..”Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Goodreads
“… he is trying to poison me”
“Noemi’s father said she cared too much about her looks and parties to take school seriously, as if a woman could not do two things at once”
“Books, moonlight, melodrama”
And, The Book Extras…
Read a free excerpt of Mexican Gothic at Oprah Mag.
Hulu has optioned Mexican Gothic and will be developing it into a series! Read more about it at Entertainment Weekly.
The author has released a free Book Club kit. These resources can accompany your reading and include:
🖤 firstly, a curated Spotify playlist,
🌹 secondly, book club “discussion” questions,
🖤 thirdly, history on “the real Del Monte”,
🌹 and, finally, a dress-up paper Noemi doll!
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