... a haunting and atmospheric thriller ... From the sinister ghostly presence to the ever-creeping horror and dread (oh yes, there are jump scares), and even the vivid, gorgeously rendered setting, the book draws upon centuries of gothic horror and elevates it with timely and poignant explorations of women’s rights (to live, to be heard and to be believed), racial and classist violence, and the privilege and cruelty of those who profit even during disasters ... While The Hacienda is set firmly in the past, even the most uninformed reader could draw comparisons to many of the issues plaguing America, Mexico and Latin America today, particularly with regard to colonialism and colorism. The inclusion of these and other -isms may seem ambitious, especially for a debut author. But Cañas supports every theme, every bump in the night and every character’s development with thorough research, beautiful, atmospheric prose, and velvety, sensual descriptions. The result is intoxicating, haunting and almost dreamlike (or perhaps nightmare-like). While I recommend you read this book as soon as possible, be sure not to do so too close to bedtime.
This was a highly entertaining haunted house mystery that not only highlights an under-represented era and milieu in English literature (and especially in genre fiction) but also sympathetically imparts the tale of two lonely, damaged souls brought together in a fight against the evil that seeks to overwhelm them. I loved too how Ms. Cañas examines the colonial standards that threaten to destroy our protagonists even before the supernatural comes into play. Her handling of that supernatural aspect is deft: I truly felt scared for Beatriz left alone in a house intent on her doom. The Hacienda works equally well as a historical novel and as a supernatural thriller, and will likely be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates either and especially both.
A dark gothic novel ... The pages of The Hacienda are drenched in these secrets, but also in the real-life horrors of colonialism, patriarchy and the complicated and harmful casta system that reverberates through the generations ... Cañas's writing is immersive, and she skillfully builds a robust sense of tension and terror that encompasses the evil that dwells in the house and the human actions from which it grows. The Hacienda is a blend of horror and mystery with a gothic heart, complete with a heroine on the brink of madness, running into the night in fear. This chilling read exposes the rotting soul of colonialism and manages to be wildly entertaining while doing so.
With strong dual narration by Beatriz and Andres, great pacing, well-placed flashbacks that effortlessly offer up the necessary details, and a strong, foreboding sense of place, this is a thought-provoking ghost story with monsters that are at once human, systemic, and supernatural. While the plot may seem to mirror Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, don’t be mistaken—the ghost here is real, and the havoc it causes is nightmare-inducing ... For fans of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic; but also V. Castro’s focus on colonialism, menacing old-world forces, sexism, class struggle, and vengeance; and Alma Katsu’s mastery of historical horror.
Stunning ... Cañas clearly knows the genre, alternately deploying and subverting haunted house tropes. The result is a brilliant contribution to the new wave of postcolonial Gothics. Readers won’t want to miss this.