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.