Book Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey, 2020)

Noemi is a young socialite in Mexico City in the mid-20th century. She likes parties and dancing and socializing. Noemi is smart and therefore aware that some of her greatest power lies in her place in society as a flirtatious, young woman. When a strange and confusing letter arrives from her cousin Catalina, Noemi’s father sends her to visit Catalina and figure out what the matter is. No one in the family has seen Catalina since she hurriedly married Virgil Doyle a year ago. The Doyles are a wealthy English family who have historically operated a silver mine in Mexico and live in a crumbling old house they call High Place.

This is where Noemi heads where she quickly finds herself in a very different setting than the upper crust parties of Mexico City. High Place is dark and dilapidated. The Doyles do not allow music, smoking, or conversation at the dinner table. The once prosperous silver mine has closed down, with whispers of a plague that ran through the workers. There are rumours, too, of the things that have happened amongst the Doyle family. To Noemi, the Doyles are cold and unwelcoming, her only potential ally found in Virgil’s younger cousin, Francis, who is kind but weak.

Mexican Gothic is a story that unfurls slowly. Noemi is likeable and, mostly, believable. She has her own personal reasons for stubbornly sticking to the task given to her. She cares about Catalina and is confused about what is really happening at High Place. Noemi is smart and rational and by the time she figures out what is happening, it may be too late.

Moreno-Garcia does an excellent job at choosing when to reveal the secrets of the novel. Something dark is at work in High Place but what exactly? I felt like there were enough clues left along the way because I actually had a good hunch as to what the secret of the Doyles would be before it was fully revealed but there were still more reveals to come and I was unsure how things would end for Noemi right up until the very end.

As someone who doesn’t read a lot of supernatural or thriller books, this was a perfect somewhat spooky October read. Although I don’t have a lot of Gothic reading to compare it to, I also really enjoyed the setting of Mexico and the era. Moreno-Garcia’s juxtaposition of Noemi and Catalina against the English Doyles is well used to cast a lot on racial issues that would have been (and still are) at the forefront. There is also an excellent contrast created between Noemi’s colourful life in Mexico City and the dark and dreary world of the Doyles. I’ve heard that this author’s books are all very different but I look forward to reading more of her writing.

17 thoughts on “Book Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia”

  1. I remember reading this book last year and really enjoying it! Gothic literature is definitely one of my favs. I haven’t read another book by this author since but now I’m intrigued. Happy Halloween!

    1. I’ve had Gods of Jade and Shadow on my TBR for a while and so should read it soon. I’d like to read more by her. Hope you had a fun Halloween!

    1. I didn’t fully guess it and I definitely didn’t predict what they discovered at the end but I was pretty sure it all had something to do with the mushrooms. I just find mushrooms suspicious, I guess. It did have a slow start but I felt like there was enough to keep me going and then I raced through the ending too!

  2. By now I’ve heard so many different and wildly mixed reviews of this book that, even though it’s not really my genre, I am increasingly tempted to read it for myself. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    1. It’s not my usual genre either but enough reviews had intrigued me. It’s creepy without being over the top and the setting of Mexico adds something unique to the genre, I think.

  3. This was one of my favorite reads in 2021. I love how it pokes fun at the classic gothic lit tropes and of themes that are present in HP Lovecraft. It really was a beautiful modern take.

    1. You’re right! It drew on a lot of those tropes while making the story feel fresh. Have you read other books by the author? This was my first.

    2. No I haven’t read anything else from her! I’m nervous because a lot of blogs say each book has a bit of a different style. I’ve tried getting into gothic lit in general however, like Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, and I like it! Do you have a gothic lit fave ?

    3. I’ve had Gods of Jade and Shadow on my TBR list for a long time. I’ve heard that about her books too – that they are each different genres. I actually don’t read a lot of gothic lit, I try to avoid anything too scary! I haven’t read Rebecca but did read My Cousin Rachel which definitely had some creepy vibes. Do you have a favourite gothic story?

    4. Right now it’s actually this one! My reading goal this year is to explore the genre more. I was going to not do as many books this year because those books tend to be thick…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s