Mexican Gothic satisfies all the requirements of a traditional haunted house tale, from the cold and unfriendly family to the imposing home set far above the locals’ town and shrouded in clammy mist. High Place house certainly appears to be a transplant from the misty moors of Scotland, right along with the peculiar family Noemi’s cousin, Catalina, married into. Noemi visits High Place after receiving a worrisome letter from her cousin, and the oddities start almost immediately upon her arrival.
From servants who never make eye contact or speak out loud, to her cousin’s family restricting access to Catalina, to the increasingly terrifying dreams she has, Noemi is a modern woman caught up in what she thinks is just a backward situation in a cold, unfriendly house. As the truth is revealed, what’s actually happening in High Place is horrifically unreal. Since more detail would give things away, and I was legitimately surprised at the reveal, I’m leaving my synopsis vague for this one.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is an excellent writer of chilling imagery and wonderful phrasing. I gave Mexican Gothic four stars because the slow-burn nature of the first half made it easier for me to set aside (I didn’t lose sleep or forego chores, and it took me a couple weeks to finish). But as Noemi’s journey gets weirder and creepier I found it more compelling, and by the last few chapters I was horrified enough I couldn’t put it down until it was over.
And then I had nightmares.
Well played, Ms. Moreno-Garcia. Well played.
Mexican Gothic is worth the read, especially as we come into Halloween season and a good high Gothic haunting story is the order of an evening or two.