~ Audiobook Review: Mexican Gothic ~

Published June 30, 2020

Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Narrator: Frankie Corzo

Audiobook Length: 10 hours 39 minutes

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Mexican Gothic was the winner of the best horror category in 2020 for the Goodreads Choice Awards and has been on my TBR ever since. I’ve read other novels by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, but somehow kept missing this one. I am excited that I finally took the time to read it. While it is a gothic “spooky” novel where I would usually read it in the fall, it was still easy to let my imagination run wild to make it spooky enough. I have seen some reviews say that this novel does not seem “Mexican” enough and seems to be set in Britain. Since the story takes place in a town in the mountainous terrain of Hildalgo and inspired by the real Real del Monte/Mineral del Monte, which is a British mining town, this made more sense to me.

Noemí Taboada is a 22-year-old debutante from Mexico City that is sent on a journey to High Place after receiving a disturbing letter from her newlywed cousin, Catalina.  Here she meets the Doyle family and their staff where lots of strange occurrences occur in the house, which sends Noemí on a mission to solve the mystery. There is a lot going on in this novel from creepy people, spooky settings, vivid nightmares, and a seemingly haunted house. There are multiple members of the Doyle family present from Catalina’s husband, Virgil, to his dad Howard along with the only female member, Florence, and her son Francis. There is also the local doctor in town along with the Doyle family doctor, which all add their own assessments of the situation.

The story begins in Mexico City with Noemí and her socialite life. For me, this part of the story was nice as a set-up for her life but could have been skipped in favor of going right into High Place. Flashbacks or other integration of her life could have been used as I felt this would have captivated me as a reader sooner. Once at High Place, things slowly become more and more spooky by the day, but, again, I felt this could have been condensed and it would still have the same effect. There are vile people and strange happenings, which do come across nicely in detail. There is enough given to the reader to describe each character, but I felt Catalina was not as large of a presence as I thought. Considering she is the whole reason for Noemí’s visit, it seemed odd to not have her featured more in the story. The story picks up in the last portion where it becomes chaotic as it sets itself up for a conclusion. It was a nice ending, but I think some reworking in the pacing could have helped cement its impact for the reader. Overall, this was a well-written story, and I would continue to read more from the author in the future.

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