I had no intention of reading this at first; well, no intention to read it now while it’s still only available as a hardcover book. But the numerous reviews of it I’ve read and a friend’s enthusiasm for the story got me interested and pushed me to purchase a hardback copy to read. And I’m glad I did because I ended up really liking the story too.
But I still wish I’d waited for the trade paperback to be published.
Paranormal; Historical Fiction; Mystery; Horror — Gothic
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. (Goodreads)
“They say the mushroom speaks to you.”
This was such a thrilling, gripping read that at times I thought it was fast-paced — Lol! It’s not; it’s slow-paced, but I read it so voraciously, speeding through the pages to uncover the mystery surrounding High Place and its inhabitants, that I didn’t realize I was the one speeding along, not the plot.
Mexican Gothic is a historical fiction novel set in 1950s Mexico City about a glamorous young socialite named Noemí who travels to a secluded manor in the Mexican countryside to find out what ails her cousin, Catalina. Catalina had sent a letter that aroused Noemí and her father’s suspicion that all was not well with Catalina, who resides in the countryside with her husband’s English family, the Doyles. Noemí and her father suspect that Catalina’s husband may be preventing her from getting the help she needs, so Noemí is sent to visit her to uncover what’s going on.
Noemí receives a cold welcome from the Doyle family when she arrives at High Place, a decrepit manor that sits atop a hill often wreathed in fog. This doesn’t stop Noemí from trying her best to find out what’s wrong with her cousin. But despite her efforts, she is often thwarted by the Doyle family, who assure Noemí that her cousin simply suffers from an ailment although Noemí is convinced that something more serious and probably pernicious is going on. Following her suspicions, and with the help of one of the Doyles who isn’t a total asshole, Noemí uncovers the family’s secret and learns what’ really going on with her cousin.
I must admit that when I started the book, I thought I would be majorly bored by it. But by the time Noemí has learned enough about the Doyles for her suspicions to increase (around the middle, maybe?), I was so hooked that I barely put the book down. I needed to know what was going on with the Doyles. I guessed so many things and even wondered if they were a bunch of vampires because Noemí’s experiences at High Place made me think of Jonathan Harker’s time spent in Dracula’s castle in Bram Stoker’s novel.
Although it’s set in Mexico, the story gives off serious gothic vibes because High Place seems stuck time. The patriarch of the Doyle family, Howard, refuses to mingle with the locals or partake of their culture or language. The inhabitants are not allowed to speak Spanish, and everything is kept as English as possible, it seems. High Place is secluded atop a steep hill, is often swathed in fog, and even has a cemetery on its premises. Because the Doyles are broke, the manor is falling apart, and Noemí and Catalina often have peculiar experiences while there. It’s as if the house is haunted.
Considering how the house is, the focus on the wallpaper, and how domineering Howard and his creepy-ass son, Virgil, are in their attempts to control Noemí and Catalina’s reality, I was strongly reminded of Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s short story “The Yellow Wall-Paper” as I read. So I think this story is as much about a vivacious young woman upending the patriarchal control of her reality as much as it is about a young woman recuing her cousin from an evil entity.
This was a good read for me; one I know I’ll pick up again to reread. It’s slow-paced, but the mystery is sure to grip you and make you speed through the story to find out what’s really going on. And although it is not scary, the hint of something sinister coupled with the atmospheric setting makes it a perfect Halloween read.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I encourage you to try it as well.
IF YOU LIKE THIS, YOU MIGHT LIKE…
“The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman