I realized, when it came time to do my best-of lists, that I hadn’t actually written reviews for two of my favourite books this year. Mexican Gothic is one of these. I read it a few weeks after Halloween, when everything in Denmark can best be described as ‘grey’ and I was in the perfect mood for Gothic. (Plus, look at that AMAZING and GORGEOUS cover; how can you resist?) Boy, did Silvia Moreno-Garcia deliver.
Mexican Gothic is the story of Noemi, a young woman from a well-off family in 1950s Mexico whose trials mostly consist of growing bored of the boys she’s dating and convincing her parents to let her study psychology. Then her father asks her to go check on her recently married cousin, Catalina, who has moved in with her new husband’s English family in the countryside. Catalina has sent a rambling letter that borders on crazy, and Noemi agrees to go–she’s worried about her cousin, plus, her father agrees to let her continue her studies. But the strangeness of the house that seems to have affected Catalina begins affecting Noemi as well, even as she befriends the only semi-normal person living there, her brother-in-law’s younger brother, Francis.
Mexican Gothic is one of those books where you don’t want to know too much about it before you read. It is enough to say that it starts out with a perfect Shirley Jackson feel, where the Gothic in the title is completely apt. Moreno-Garcia soon weaves the tale into something that is uniquely hers, bringing into it elements of colonialism and eugenics that only add to the disturbing nature of the story rather than detract from it. The last third is utterly chaotic and what I can only describe as bonkers–and I loved every minute of it. I could not put the book down, but devoured it in huge gulps over the course of a weekend. It left me reeling, baffled, and amazed. 5/5 mushrooms.