Mexican Gothic written by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a spooky and disturbing novel. I loved it. Briefly, the story centers on Noemi, a debutante in Mexico City. Her father has received a letter from her cousin, Catalina. The letter is strange and compels Noemi’s father to send her to High Place, where Catalina and her husband live. Arriving at High Place, Noemi discovers her cousin is ill and bed-ridden. From there, the story takes off and the spookiness begins.
This is a Gothic novel, no doubt, and that is clear from the description of High Place. Similar to many Gothic mansions, High Place has seen better days. Once, it was magnificent and full of servants and clean and bright. Now, however, it is run down, dirty, and only has a handful of servants. Also, it stands high above the nearest village up a dirty road rutted by rain. High Place suffers from dampness.
I am not going to give a plot synopsis, suffice to say that Noemi faces many challenges throughout. What I do want to focus on, though, is Garcia-Moreno’s writing. The first paragraph hooked me so strongly that I read all 305 pages in about 5 days. That may not seem like much to some of you, but I think it’s pretty good.
Moreno-Garcia does a fantastic job of evoking Noemi as a character. The young woman is believable. She likes to have fun and party and dance with the boys. She’s carefree and strong willed, but I never felt that she was the spoiled brat people called her. Maybe that is just because I like her.
Beauty is in short supply in Mexican Gothic, Noemi and Catalina being really the only examples. However, ugliness abounds. The house is ugly, the servants are ugly, Catalina’s in-laws are ugly.
The Ugliness of Mexican Gothic
Speaking of the in-laws, there are Howard (the patriarch), Virgil (the first born, he’s handsome but cruel) and Francis (not a looker, innocent). But the ugliness in Mexican Gothic is more than just physical. Its psychological and primal. This is a primal book, despite its Gothic trappings. Or maybe because of them.
At any rate, Noemi experiences first hand the ugliness of High Place and its inhabitants in a tale that sent shivers up my spine and made my heart sink more than a few times.
I can’t recommend this book enough. If you’re interested in Gothic literature, and are looking for a twist on the classic genre, check this one out.
Have you read Mexican Gothic? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments. And as always, thank you for reading.