Mexican Gothic

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Noemi is a daughter of a rich family in Mexico City who travels to the hinterlands to find out why her cousin, recently married, has lost contact with the rest of the family and is rumored to be mentally ill.

Why yes, that is the perfect set-up for an old-timey, classic gothic horror novel, and Mexican Gothic delivers. There’s a creepy old house, a creepy cemetery, strange murmurings, the unwanted lustful attentions of her cousin’s husband, echoes of British colonialism as the family is a British family that took over a now-closed silver mine and whose Mexican workers all succumbed to some mysterious illness….

You can possibly see where this is going. And while I mostly called the gothic/horror beats in this book for the first half, not so much the second half. I mean, wow. I don’t really want to spoil the unfolding horror, so I can say much about why Noemi hears a voice saying “open your eyes” or how the house has controlled the behavior of her cousin and its mysteriously compliant servants, or why Noemi herself is unable to resist the dream-advances of her cousin’s husband…but its quite gloriously, messily weird and horrific.

It starts slow, and little by little we are introduced to the horror, and just when things become clear it all snowballs at the end in the usual horror tropes. I quite liked that Noemi gets help from her love interest, but in the end it is mostly her saving him and soothing his nightmares. Just like ye olde horror novels, sexual aggression is alluded to but never present on the book-stage beyond kissing.

Very atmospheric, gothic tropes galore, horror novel with a self-assured heroine.