Mexican Gothic Review
Updated: Sep 11, 2022
This book is fucked up on a number of levels. And honestly, I’m all for it!
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 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.
This book is fucked up on a number of levels. And honestly, I’m all for it! That being said, initially, I was on the fence about reading this book. The summary just didn’t hook me as other books have. So I decided to hold off on picking it up and wanted to hear some other reviews and thoughts on it before I decided if I wanted to read it. After seeing some other fellow bookstagrammers say they enjoyed it, I decided to pick up a copy.
But I didn’t read it right away, in fact, it had been sitting on my shelf since I got it and then I heard more reviews. These new reviews had some very mixed feelings about the book. Some loved it. Some hated it. Some said it meh. But the main thing that had me concerned was so many people described it as slow. Seeing all these mixed reviews made me nervous to pick it up. Especially hearing it’s got a slow build.
Honestly, if it wasn’t for the #Spookybookathon I decided to take part in, I probably wouldn’t have picked this up for the month of October. I’m happy I did though!
This book is so creepy and messed up. When I first started this I didn’t know what to expect. I was skeptical about all the mixed reviews. I didn’t know anything beyond the summary. One thing was true, the first half felt very slow for my tastes. Honestly, if it wasn’t for my friends saying it gets better I don’t know if I would have continued. The first half of the book was slow and felt overly descriptive and some of the characters were very concerning and under the skin creepy. It made me feel extremely uncomfortable.
The first half of the book was slow and felt overly descriptive and some of the characters were very concerning and under the skin creepy. It made me feel extremely uncomfortable.
After the halfway point though! Things really started to pick up. All the secrets and uneasiness that the first half was building up too, created this whole tension to something so immensely messed up. Almost the entire second half had me saying “What the fuck” every few pages. I felt as if I had a fixed expression of disgust stuck on my face. I was utterly disgusted, uncomfortable, creeped out, unnerved… I think you get the point. There were parts I had to reread because it left me sitting there saying “did I just read that right?” Again though, I was all for it!
Almost the entire second half had me saying “What the fuck” every few pages. I felt as if I had a fixed expression of disgust stuck on my face.
I truly enjoyed this second half. It made up for the slow build of the first half. I will say the ending was to be expected. It felt like the only logical option for how it could end. I was in fact screaming in my head for it to happen that way as soon as the secrets started spilling out. Even though the ending seemed predictable, everything else about the book didn’t feel that way. The entire concept of the book, while yes being extremely effed up, was completely unique. It made it so entertaining to read. This is the type of horror books I like!
Another thing I enjoyed about this book was it was labeled with a feminist theme. The main character, Noemi was a very strong female lead. In the time period of the 1950s, she should have been married or constantly searching for Mr. Right. She wasn’t interested in getting married and instead was focused on going to a university and getting educated no matter how much her father objected. It is in fact, the reason she got stuck in this whole messed up situation, she promised her father she would visit her cousin to check on her well being after an alarming letter they received, in return for her father to pay for her to attend university.
Not only was she more focused on education, she constantly stood up to the male characters throughout the book. She knew her strengths and used them to her advantage. She was a great main character to follow throughout the book. Her feisty, strong personality made the book enjoyable. She wasn’t a damsel in distress, she fought back.
The main character, Noemi was a very strong female lead. In the time period of the 1950s, she should have been married or constantly searching for Mr. Right. She wasn’t interested in getting married and instead was focused on going to a university and getting educated no matter how much her father objected.
Now speaking of male characters… I thought reading about the husband in Gone Girl was the worst male character. Oh boy… Was I wrong… The Doyle family in this book is filled with just disturbing sick perverted men. The only man I liked was the youngest, Francis. Though even he was a bit questionable. The oldest, Howard was by far the most demented character I’ve probably read about to date. Just thinking about him and his choices make me gag. Howard was such a racist human being. The thing I hated most was how he was surprised that someone not white could actually be attractive, let alone a Mexican woman. I’m half Hispanic, so that really just irked me. It made me sick reading that. Well, everything about Howard was sick honestly.
Now, Francis. Oh, I liked him from the start. But I also had a love-hate relationship with him. His actions were questionable, I couldn’t decide whether to trust him or not. Sometimes he seemed genuine other times not so much. I think, in the end, I was definitely Team Francis. The ending just made my heart swell!
Overall, I truly enjoyed reading this book. It was nothing that I was expecting. In fact, it was so much more. Despite the slow build of the first half, it was a captivating story that I just couldn’t put down ~ after the second half. I’m happy I decided to pick this up and I’m happy that my friends told me it gets better. This time you were right! It was definitely a perfect spooky read for the month of October. I think anyone who enjoys spooky and horror books will enjoy this one! Also, those who enjoy strong female leads!
Keep reading for more of my thoughts on Mexican Gothic!
Warning! Spoilers :)
Okay, not for the elephant in the room…
How effed up is the Doyle family? Especially Howard’s insistence on marrying within the family. Ew! That’s just wrong on so many levels. The fact that Howard stole the bodies of his sons, cousins, nephews. What the bloody fuck?! But it was also a clever take on how one stays immortal. Instead of stealing the souls or the youth of others, he steals the bodies of others. But not just any body either, he would only steal male bodies, never a female. Sexist bastard. The concept behind the mushrooms was also intriguing, and the idea that those caused the “gloom” and the hold over the family. It was so creative.