Moreno-Garcia isn’t just rattling off genre signifiers. The author’s postcolonial spin on the gothic tradition evokes the usual suspects: Daphne du Maurier, Emily Brontë, Mary Shelley, even Anne Radcliffe. Like those authors, Moreno-Garcia works in a tradition in which chills and thrills tap into elemental cultural fears — runaway science, carnal passion. But to these she adds a more politically inflected horror, both ancient and timely: A racist will to power ... Moreno-Garcia writes simply in these early pages, her declarative sentences and straightforward descriptions playing against the creeping gloom ... Moreno-Garcia somewhat muddles this history, which is her right as a novelist, adding layers of meaning that highlight the clash between colonial powers and a nation struggling to come into its own ... Sometimes I longed for more about this piece of Mexico’s past, a slightly more direct reckoning with the history. Yet Moreno-Garcia aims not just to edify but to thrill. Readers will cheer as Noemí fights off the nasty Doyles, gasp as they pull her back in ... By the time readers have tiptoed and reeled in Noemí’s well-heeled shoes, the turn from mannered mystery to twisted horror will seem as inevitable as the nightmare logic of a Grimm fairy tale. Yet Mexican Gothic has an ending that turns Western fairy tales upside down. In the process of surprising us one last time, Moreno-Garcia proves that it’s possible to create a believable female protagonist who defies not just the Doyles but the patriarchy of her time — the more polite eugenics of family that didn’t traffic in serpent symbols or dark rites — to fight for what she knows is a more righteous future.
High Place is an ominous presence, and Moreno-Garcia uses its grim atmosphere to great effect ... The descriptions of her hallucinations are hypnotically poetic ... drips with a miasma of dread for these captive women, especially after we learn what this strange family has in store for them. But this is a novel about powerful women ... It’s as if a supernatural power compels us to turn the pages of the gripping Mexican Gothic. The true identity of the Doyles and the fate of these women is an intoxicating mystery that allows us, for a little while, to forget the horror story taking place in the real world during the summer of covid-19.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic is a thoroughly enjoyable, thought-provoking novel ... There is a gradual rise of dread in Mexican Gothic. It never quite falls off, even at the end, which I loved for its satisfying ambiguity; this is a novel that will leave you wary even after the last page. Mexican Gothic touches on racial, class, and labor inequity, the way these things fester, infusing the landscape and blighting generations ... This is Silvia Moreno-Garcia's greatness as a storyteller: She makes you uneasy about invisible things by writing around them ... Mexican Gothic is a pitch-perfect Gothic novel.
The [gothic] genre’s palette is typically limited, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be—as Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic amply, deliriously, and gloriously demonstrates ... a little bit trashy. A promising sign, indeed ... But if Mexican Gothic begins like du Maurier, it veers a little before its midpoint into the territory of a Guillermo del Toro movie ... It’s an audacious and satisfying move, because while Moreno-Garcia lacks du Maurier’s gift for conjuring a hypnotic atmosphere, her skill with the baroque and hallucinatory is peerless ... quintessential gothic concepts—female powerlessness and voicelessness, the house as body or psyche—but Moreno-Garcia turns them up to 11 ... while sustaining the gothic’s old-fashioned appeal, Moreno-Garcia converts its motifs into a supple metaphor for colonialism, which she conceives of as a kind of disease ... I’ll say that it’s possible to read Mexican Gothic for its shiver-inducing surface pleasures alone, but you can also find much more should you choose to look for it. And no lazy afternoon spent reading it will ever feel wasted.
... handles this transition from Gothic to Weird horror in an especially adept way ... If there is a problem with Mexican Gothic—and, having had time to mull the book over in my head after reading, I'm not entirely convinced there even is one—it is a problem with genre. Moreno-Garcia lets each element of her novel breathe by tacking through mystery and surrealism, dreams and intriguing goings-on, and the investigation of the intriguing goings-on of dreams. As disparate as all these modes can be, they all fit under the horror-thriller umbrella. Each works on the anticipation of ignorance and the release of knowledge, on a fundamental drive toward explanation or revelation. Mysteries and ghost stories beg to be solved; the Weird and surreal insist that solutions are immanent or impossible. To the reader or to the cosmos, knowledge is a release ... Even with that gossamer thread to connect the parts into a whole, however, Mexican Gothic faces a difficult task to sew together these subgenres. It is not nearly as simple a task as Moreno-Garcia makes it seem. Her writing in Mexican Gothic is compulsively readable without sacrificing the sentence, which is an accomplishment in itself. Instead of stopping there, though, Moreno-Garcia turns this literary feat into a sort of genre glue, bringing together disparate subgenres in a way that makes them seem altogether suited for one another ... Unlike the masterful maneuvering between Gothic, Weird, mystery, and surrealism, the alternate history and paranormal romance elements never quite seem to gel into a whole. At their worst they feel like filler, sometimes even patronizing to the audience. At their best, they produce powerful images that remain disconnected from the broader picture—and that best is, like the rest of Mexican Gothic, very, very good. Phenomenal, even.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia cuts to the quick of gothic horror, delivering a brilliant, page-turning romp that is as clever as it is chilling ... Moreno-Garcia delivers on every promise she makes with Mevican Gothic. She masterfully executes tropes of the genre while reinvigorating every single one, and Noemí makes for a deeply gratifying protagonist through it all. The book gets at the true terror of the world and positions a brilliant, passionate and impulsive heroine to fight it at its very core. The eldritch villain is the horrific reality of white supremacy and the monstrosity of insecure, self-righteous masculinity. Moreno-Garcia lays bare its willful, selfish violence, how it’s inextricable from western imperialism and rape culture, and as widely accepted, inescapable and built to thrive within our system of governance as law itself ... a dark, seductive fairy tale --- magical, haunted and subversive on every level. Noemí is a savvy knight, Catalina is no damsel, and the castle is knowingly built on brown bodies, while the prince at the end has always been the hideous, ravening dragon and evil queen all at once ... The book is truly terrifying, but even though it emphasizes that racist, imperialist evil has always been cyclical, it is still beautifully hopeful. It never loses sight of how brown women can save themselves and each other, even as it indicts how evil this system is that puts them in threatened positions ... Thoroughly satisfying on every page and brimming with eerie, encroaching menace, Mevican Gothic is a pitch-perfect masterpiece.
One thing that’s clear about Mexican Gothic is that Moreno-Garcia is having a blast playing with the conventions of Gothic literature. The creepy family, the decaying setting, the gaslighting of women, and the twisted eroticism are all present, but in the last third of the novel, what was simmering comes to a ferocious boil with a memorable, albeit stomach-churning, climax that nearly put me off a certain food. What stops it from exceeding peak melodrama is the presence of Noemi. Her refusal to believe the lies the Doyles feed her about Catalina, her sense of justice when she learns the truth about this wretched family, and her capacity, as a well-educated and empowered woman, to stare down gloating, sleazy, white men, makes Mexican Gothic her novel.
... has all the right ingredients ... Noemí is the perfect gothic heroine ... The novel also offers a taste of Mexican history, folklore, and a glimpse of Mexico City elites circa 1950. A dark and delectable concoction readers can’t help but relish.
The gothic in this book goes well beyond surface-level tropes ... Moreno-Garcia is playing with great dexterity here with the conventions of the gothic house novel ... It’s the elegance with which Moreno-Garcia handles this metaphor that elevates Mexican Gothic above the level of didactic pastiche. This book is deliciously true to the gothic form, grotesque without becoming gross, and considered, always, in the way it thinks about power and its characters’ reactions to power. Read it with your lights on — and know that strange dreams might begin to haunt you, as they haunted Noémi.
It was difficult for me to enter the book wholeheartedly at first...I liked that, as a young Mexican woman, Noemi is represented as scholarly, curious and also tenacious and interested in living her life freely, but at times, she also serves as a repository of knowledge for the story that was sometimes overused. As a Mexican American woman, I also found disengaged when the book explained facets of urban and rural Mexican culture rather than making it feel like a natural part of the setting and Noemi as a character. Maybe this is to set Noemi as a direct contrast to the characters she encounters at High Place. When Noemi travels to High Place, that is where the story really began for me ... The most engaging and beautifully disturbing parts of the novel are when Noemi dreams, in which she sees the lifeforce of the house in the living walls ... a twist on the haunted house that felt new and original, and one that I appreciated ... Be warned that there are very disturbing scenes of sexual assault, massacres of indigenous peoples, and violence done to women and children that are deeply disturbing. At times, these moments compress the Doyles into archetypal villains that are fairly irredeemable, but I don’t know that it would serve the story, or the reader, to feel sympathetic to the overt misogyny and racist violence of Howard Doyle ... The book’s homage to gothic stories in a culture and setting that has not been as widely explored before and the risks that it takes are engaging, and Noemi’s will to vanquish Howard Doyle and free herself, Catalina and even gentle Francis from the house kept me reading. If you are looking for a new take on the haunted house story for your own growing canon, Mexican Gothic is worth the exploration.
... a shiver-inducing tale combining touches of Northanger Abbey with bits of the Gormenghast trilogy thrown in for good measure ... 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.
... a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror ... 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.
Moreno-Garcia’s energetic romp through the gothic genre is delightfully bonkers ... 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.