Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
When I first saw the release of Mexican Gothic, I thought that’s not something for me. I expected gothic to mean horror story set in some remote place during a remote time period. Not for me, thank you very much. I’ve never been much for horror films ever since I had nightmares as a kid the first time I watched a scary movie. While I was glad to see a Latina writing in this genre, I figured this would be a hard pass for me.
But then all the buzz started, great reviews all over the place, talk of a Hulu series based on the book, and then of course there was that gorgeous book cover. There was something about it that was enticing. So into gothic horror I went. And while I still believe this is not the genre for me, too creepy, I could still appreciate Moreno-Garcia’s masterful writing.
The story is set in 1950s Mexico, in an of course haunting old house owned by a British family that earned it’s immense wealth from the mining on the land. The protagonist of the story, Noemi, receives a cryptic letter from her cousin Catalina who has married into the Doyle family, asking for help. The family had received updates from Catalina’s husband alleging her to be sick but being well taken care of by his family. Noemi was suspicious and decided to go visit her cousin on her own.
Noemi finds herself a virtual prisoner in the Doyle house, under the strict rules of Florence, Catalina’s sister-in-law and the mistress of the house. Soon Noemi begins to have haunting dreams as the dark secrets of the Doyle family are revealed. Like I said, creepy. But if this is the genre for you, then you will not be disappointed. What was most intriguing for me was the presence of this British family in this remote town in 1950s Mexico. Where they stand-ins for the imperialistic threat of the United States? Was the exploitation and disappearance of their Mexican workers a commentary on the ongoing abuse of Mexican labor by external powers? These elements are just as haunting as the Doyle family story itself.
I was glad to have stretched out of my comfort zone into the gothic realm, for Moreno-Garcia is truly a remarkable writer. But I think I’ll stick to less creepy realms in my reading for a while now.