After reading and enjoying Turn of the Screw, I craved more gothic literature. Silvia Morena-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic kept popping up on booklists everywhere, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s now been three days since I finished the novel and I think I finally figured out how I feel about it.
Set in 1950s Mexico, Mexican Gothic follows Noemí Taboada’s journey to conduct a wellness check on her cousin Catalina at the behest of her father. Catalina lives in a remote mountain town in a secluded house with her mysterious new husband and his family. Catalina showed signs of duress in recent letters, so Noemí travels the distance and encounters a strange family, with strange rules, in a strange house, with strange smells, and strange mold in every nook and cranny. At first the buildup was intriguing and then it became redundant. You get me?
I enjoy ambiguity and subtlety, as I find it adds to horror and builds tension. Mexican Gothic was too on the nose at some points and then so extremely “out there” (especially throughout the third act) that the story was lost in the urgency to explain the “twist” and to bring very abstract elements to life on the page. I found myself rereading paragraphs to fully understand the imagery of it all, and I’m still not convinced I fully conceptualize the jumbled narrative. Also, it was kind of gross. No, it was gross. Affirmative: gross at parts.
Morena-Garcia is clearly a gifted author, and her writing was vivid and original; however, I really wanted to like this book, and I’m just not sure it was for me. It’s like when I’m craving pizza and the anticipation is so great that when it arrives I eat like six pieces. And the whole time I’m dunking in my ranch and watching my housewives and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. And then, I hit a point where I’m uncomfortable and sweaty and I realize it maybe was not as much fun as I thought it was. Maybe I should forget about this little pizza moment and not do it again for three months or so (but never never because, “know thyself”).
If you like unique gothic tales, I suggest this book. It is certainly not a difficult read, but there are some difficult, “what the f?!” moments smattered throughout. I do not recommend this book if you are looking for a well-developed romance and a run-of-the-mill gothic horror novel.