Mexican Gothic is the story of Noemí Taboada, a 22 year old socialite in 1950s Mexico City. Noemí’s life is filled with parties, shopping, concerts, and a rotating cast of beaus. Despite having a sharp mind, no one except her father looks past her beautiful face.
Noemí’s cousin Catalina married an English man named Virgil Doyle and moved to his family’s estate in the mountains the previous year. Catalina has sent Noemí’s father a disturbing letter claiming her husband is trying to poison her and there are voices in the walls. Catalina’s husband says she’s been sick with a high fever, but Mr. Taboada doesn’t trust him. Mr. Taboada wants Noemí to visit Catalina to verify everything is okay.
Catalina’s in-laws are unwelcoming and unfriendly, and their manor is in disrepair. Noemí starts having nightmares and hearing voices. Isolated and unsure who to trust and what to believe, Noemí must figure out how to help her cousin and get home.
I kept changing my mind about Mexican Gothic as I was reading it. I loved the beginning, with Noemi in Mexico City and her arrival at High Place. The creepy manor and residents were interesting for a while, but I almost gave up after 100 pages of sort of vaguely ominous omens with no real forward momentum. Finally, I decided to read the ending to see if all the build up was actually building up to something, and boy howdy, was it ever. The book goes in a weird direction I absolutely didn’t see coming. Was it worth staying the course? Yes, but only because it isn’t a very long book. Just be prepared for a lull in the middle.
I really liked that Noemí was smart, educated, accomplished, and brave. Too many horror stories have protagonists who are just lucky, and it would have been easy to make a 50s socialite into a final girl stereotype. The other characters aren’t as well developed, but some of that is explained in the finale. I had a few nagging questions while reading it, like why doesn’t Noemí just leave, but those were also answered.
Bentley wants you to turn the page, he’s busy sitting on his paws.