Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Book Review

Spooky month is almost upon us – and my oh my, am I ready for it. I absolutely love autumn – I love snuggling up with a thick blanket and a hot chocolate with marshmallows, central heating on and hiding from the cold. I always try and ease myself into the season with season-appropriate reading, so am constantly on the look out for new and upcoming gothic fiction to feast on during the spookier months of the year. A book that’s been on my radar for a little while is Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I picked this up using a Waterstones voucher I had saved and was more than eager to get stuck into it.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Book Review

Some of my absolutely favourite books are part of the gothic genre – Jane Eyre, Rebecca, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, to name a few – so a ‘new’ gothic fiction book that had critics raving for all directions definitely stood out to me. I took a gothic fiction class at the University of Liverpool last year and am constantly on the lookout for Gothic fiction as a result. Mexican Gothic, needless to say, is set in Mexico during the 1950s and focuses on our protagonist Noemi, a young lady living vicariously in the city. She has a male friend who she attends parties with, her family has wealth and she is happy with her livelihood. Her father receives a frantic and somewhat worrying letter from her cousin Catalina, who has recently married, begging for a family member to come and rescue her from the home her new husband abodes in – High House is isolated in the middle of the countryside and, for lack of a better word, is a little bit creepy. Noemi agrees to visit her cousin to ensure that all is well and what she discovers when she arrives is far from what she was expecting – her cousin’s new husband Virgil is handsome, wealthy and seemingly normal. She befriends Virgil’s cousin Francis and begins to settle into the house – the house with no electricity, no heating and something a little bit odd running through it. After a few days, a week, of being in the house, Noemi begins to feel the unsettle that the house radiates but what happens next is something beyond even her wildest imagination. For something horrendous has happened in the house, something that has taken control of the very fibers of its being, and once the control sets in, there’s not a lot that can be done to stop it.

A Creepy, modern dramatisation of the Gothic tradition

This story is beyond anything I’ve ever read – it is hideously creepy and incredibly graphic in its descriptions. It’s fair to say that Silvia Moreno-Garcia leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination. I found myself wincing and squealing throughout – some of the descriptions were just THAT graphic. That isn’t to say that this book isn’t an enjoyable read – by all means, it left me feeling more emotions than I thought possible and I definitely will be recommending it going forwards and reading it again each year as part of my spooky sequence. The atmosphere of the story is definitely what makes it so chilling and unnerving – because the setting is so realistic and the characters are seemingly so normal, it hits harder than your average gothic tale. I found Noemi’s character really likeable – I loved the care she has for her cousin, even when all appears to be normal, and the relationship that develops between her and Francis, I love the intrigue of the secondary characters, her trips into the village and the rumours she hears whilst there – and how these rumours level up with the reality of the situation. I definitely couldn’t have predicted the true complexities of this beautiful story, nor could I have guessed the sheer craziness of the conclusion. Think you’ve worked it all out? Believe me now… you haven’t, because no sane-thinking person could ever predict this. I imagine reading Mexican Gothic is the equivalent of taking some seriously strong hallucinogens.

You really do need to read it to believe it.