★★ ☆ ☆ (or ★ ★ ★ ★, if you’re okay with [spoilers!])
I really enjoy gothic horror, and Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia checks a lot of the boxes for a good summer read— a snappy heroine, a spooky setting, and a quickly-paced 300ish pages, I devoured it in a weekend. The story follows charming young socialite Noemí Taboada as she travels to check up on her recently-wed and apparently unwell cousin, and finds the bride’s new family more than a bit unusual. Living in High Place, a decrepit mansion with a dark history, ruled over by an elderly and ailing patriarch with a fascination with eugenics, the family is dismissive of Noemí’s concern for her ailing cousin. Noemí’s only ally in the gloomy house is the youngest relative, the reticent amateur-botanist Francis, who is not himself entirely forthcoming about the family’s strange past. Plagued by nightmares and unnerved by a repeating ouroboros theme, Noemi must unravel the mystery of High Place.
Sounds like a great read, right? Here’s the catch—
[some minor spoilers ahead!]
I am exceptionally squeamish about body horror, and in particular I’m put off by parasites, fungus, etc. Moreno-Garcia is a skilled writer, and you’ll find yourself quickly pulled into her world, but when that same attention is focused on viscera and gore, it was a bit much for me personally. And with the final act revolving heavily around some very descriptive body horror… let’s just say it’s the stuff of nightmares.
So with the single reservation that this book is not for the faint of heart— or rather, of stomach— I recommend Mexican Gothic to fans of gothic horror with a twist.
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