Book Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“The world might indeed be a cursed circle; the snake swallowed its tail and there could be no end, only an eternal ruination and endless devouring.”

Oh. My. Effing. God.

After finishing this book at 3am in the night, I don’t know if I need a tequila shot, a high-octane workout or just a deep breath (which was held for too long) to calm my hyperactive mind. Sleep can wait.

While diving into Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, I was prepared for a dark tale with paranormal happenings. In the first few pages, it had me believe that my presumptions were spot on. But, gosh, I couldn’t be any more wrong and, for sure, wasn’t ready to have my mind blown by this truly horrifying eerie novel.

The story begins with Noemí, a young and affluent socialite, receiving a distressful letter from her newly-married cousin, Catalina. While shaking off the latter’s qualms, Noemí’s father still sends her to Catalina’s husband, Virgil’s manor located in a small town. While on the mission, she has to see if her cousin is in any real trouble. What begins as an adventure and a short trip for Noemí, soon takes an evil turn.

Noemí’s personality is of a glamourous woman who knows her strengths and the magnetic effect she has on those around her. Entering High Place, she begins hearing tales of the house from its inhabitants and townsfolk. As Catalina is down with this illness, a chase of solving the riddle keeps Noemí going.

Imma shut up now, before burgeoning y’all with spoilers.

Garcia does an extraordinary job of bringing the dark, gothic atmosphere to life with vivid descriptions of the town, palace and its rich history. High Place has seen its heyday many generations ago, but in the present state, it is a dilapidated house which lacks everything. Even though the story is mostly fast-paced, Garcia’s narration gives you space to go wild with your imagination and, in your head, explore a life Noemí is living. You can see, she has crafted every character’s personality and expression with such precision making it meaty to devour.

Given this is historical fiction, I also enjoyed descriptions about workings and wardrobe of upper-class Mexican families back in the day. The author also seamlessly amalgamates scientific details with elements of mystery. Because of this, I did not see the climax coming.

My only teeny-tiny reservation was, as the story proceeds the line between reality and fantasy gets too blurred for my liking. It became more fantastical, less real/relatable ever so slightly.

However, I want everyone to read it. I swear the last time a book that had me this scared was Stephen King’s The Shining. Alongside Mexican Gothic, I was also reading Wuthering Heights, but this damn tale had me sideline all other priorities (including my sleep).

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