Counter-intuitively, this Gothic horror novel was an absolute joy to read.
My attention span in 2020 is limited at best, but I could not put down Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic. Her main character, the impetuous and steel-spited Mexico City socialite Noemí Taboada, is truly alive. The rural Mexican setting is a delight, and the creepiness level is appropriate for those of us less versed in horror.
Noemí Taboada is a Mexico City mover and shaker. She lives in the 1940s-50s era, and has expansive ideas for her future. Maybe she’ll be a pianist, an anthropologist, or something else entirely. Who knows? Maybe all of it. She tries on boyfriends like clothes, and this annoys her father to no end. He runs a successful paint company and is hoping his daughter will act as smart as he know she is. In fact, he sends her on a mission to check on Catalina, Noemí’s sick cousin. The two women grew up together, but Catalina has recently gotten married and moved outside of the small town of El Triunfo. Catalina’s new family lives at High Place, an old mansion owned by an English family famous for its silver mining operation. Catalina has sent a letter to Mr Taboada explaining she is sick and needs help. Hence, the mission.
Noemí hops on a train to El Triunfo, despite minor protestations about missing some social events in Mexico City. As soon as she arrives in the town and meets Catalina’s new family at High Place, she knows something isn’t right. Gothicness ensues!
It seems that people either love or hate this book. I think it helps to manage expectations going in. As the name signals – this is a gothic book. There’s a Romantic, building dread. It’s all about atmosphere and mood and weird magnetic pulls to people and places. Don’t expect it to run hot and loud like Fury Road or some other action blockbuster. Just sit by the fire, sip a libation of your choice, and enjoy the glorious weirdness.