Mexican gothic

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Book - 2020

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemi 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 Noemi knows little about the region. Noemi 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 amate...ur 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 Noemi; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi'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 Noemi, 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 Noemi digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

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FICTION/Moreno-Garcia, Silvia
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1st Floor FICTION/Moreno-Garcia, Silvia Due Oct 13, 2023
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1st Floor FICTION/Moreno-Garcia, Silvia Due Oct 19, 2023
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Gothic fiction
Fantasy fiction
Horror fiction
New York : Del Rey [2020]
Physical Description
301 pages ; 24 cm
Main Author
Silvia Moreno-Garcia (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Moreno-Garcia applies a Mexican-inspired twist across a variety of genres, most recently to crime fiction with Untamed Shore (2020). Now she takes on gothic suspense with a shiver-inducing tale combining touches of Northanger Abbey with bits of the Gormenghast trilogy thrown in for good measure. Noemí Taboada, privileged daughter of a wealthy Mexican industrialist, is a high-spirited flirt who is not prone to flights of fancy and not in the habit of believing in the supernatural. When Noemí's father sends her to check on her cousin who may be suffering delusions--or could be in danger from her new spouse--she finds a small, tight-knit family with strict rules and a troubled past, living in a mold-infested manor house. They are ruled by a dying patriarch with strong beliefs in eugenics who is oddly delighted to have another young lady come to their isolated estate, despite her inferior blood. The ever-present imagery of twisting vines and snakes swallowing their tails blends with ghostly memories of death and disease to create a fascinating atmosphere of dark dreams and intrigue.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Moreno-Garcia's energetic romp through the gothic genre (after Gods of Jade and Shadow) is delightfully bonkers. In the 1950s, Noemí, a flirtatious socialite and college student, travels from Mexico City to rescue her cousin Catalina from the nightmarish High Place, a remote Mexican mountain villa. Catalina has recently married the chilly, imperiously seductive Virgil Doyle, heir to a now defunct British silver mining operation. Beset by mysterious fevers, Catalina has written to her uncle, Noemí's father, telling him, "This house is sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment." Noemí clashes with Virgil's father, Howard--who subscribes to theories of eugenics--along with a set of oddly robotic British servants. Beset by horrifying dreams and visions, and unsettled by a peculiar fungus that grows everywhere, Noemí soon fears for her own life as well as Catalina's. In a novel that owes a considerable debt to the nightmarish horror and ornate language of H.P. Lovecraft, the situations in which Noemí attempts to prevail get wilder and stranger with every chapter, as High Place starts exhibiting a mind of its own, and Noemi learns that Howard is far older than he appears to be. Readers who find the usual country house mystery too tame and languid won't have that problem here. (June)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

Set in the 1950s, Nebula Award-nominated Moreno-Garcia's (Untamed Shore) take on gothic suspense and horror is one wild ride, but it also highlights important issues of our times, including racism, classism, and sexism. After receiving a concerning letter from her cousin Catalina, Noemí, a vivacious, urbane college student, travels from her Mexico City home to High Place, the isolated, chilly mountain villa and family estate of Noemi's new husband, Virgil Doyle. The mold-infested, creepy manor house may have been grand in its day, but its ghastly state now matches that of the family's dying patriarch, Howard Doyle, Virgil's father. The family's status and wealth came from operating a silver mine where they exploited the Indigenous laborers, whom the family consider to be inferior because of their non-European ancestry. With Catalina bedridden from her mysterious illness, Noemí is left to explore the villa and nearby town to try to make sense of Catalina's predicament and the Doyle family's role in it. She enlists the help of outcast son Francis, but the strange pull of the house has a strong grip on him, and soon Noemí finds herself struggling against it as well. Frankie Corzo's silky voice and atmospheric narration perfectly reflect Noemí's growing horror as she learns the secrets of High Place and its disturbed inhabitants. VERDICT Recommended for horror and thriller fans who like some edginess to their stories; also, the brave, smart Noemí is a protagonist who'll thrill YA listeners (as long as they are mature enough for a few racy bits!)--Beth Farrell, Cleveland State Univ. Law Lib.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

Moreno-Garcia offers a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico. Inquisitive 22-year-old socialite and anthropology enthusiast Noemí Taboada adores beautiful clothes and nights on the town in Mexico City with a bevy of handsome suitors, but her carefree existence is cut short when her father shows her a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married fair-haired and blue-eyed Virgil Doyle, who comes from a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Catalina lives in High Place, the Doyle family's crumbling mansion near the former mining town of El Triunfo. In the letter, Catalina begs for Noemí's help, claiming that she is "bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin," and that High Place is "sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment." Upon Noemí's arrival at High Place, she's struck by the Doyle family's cool reception of her and their unabashed racism. She's alarmed by the once-vibrant Catalina's listless state and by the enigmatic Virgil and his ancient, leering father, Howard. Nightmares, hallucinations, and phantasmagoric dreams of golden dust and fleshy bodies plague Noemí, and it becomes apparent that the Doyles haven't left their blood-soaked legacy behind. Luckily, the brave Noemí is no delicate flower, and she'll need all her wits about her for the battle ahead. Moreno-Garcia weaves elements of Mexican folklore with themes of decay, sacrifice, and rebirth, casting a dark spell all the way to the visceral and heart-pounding finale. Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don't mind a heaping dose of all-out horror. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.