Why Mexican Gothic works

So often I’m behind on my reading list. But not this time! This book came out this year, and I got to read it!

Well, listen to it. I got the audiobook because I just have more time to listen than to read. 

On one hand, I wish I had read it. It was such a delicious story, the thought of spending hours with the book in hand, sipping tea while rain pelted my windows and I was lost in a gothic castle is fantastic. On the other hand, hearing the story read by Frankie Corzo was a treat. She did a fantastic job, especially jumping from accents and characters. 

The story starts simple enough. A young socialite, Noemi, gets a frantic letter from her cousin. She goes to check on her, at her father’s request.

When she arrives, she finds a cold, dark castle better suited for Transylvania than Mexico. It’s inhabited by a family of depressing English, old aristocracy whose money is all gone. It appears clear soon that Catalina, Noemi’s cousin, was only brought here for her money.

But it’s hard to suss that out, as she’s not in her right mind. The family keeps the two girls away from each other most of the time, leaving Noemi to wander around the castle and the graveyard. 

In doing so, she finds out more and more about family secrets. Secrets that are doing their damndest to wrap around her neck and strangle her.

There’s a great amount of symbolism that I only realized in hindsight. The story is about two young women trapped in a castle. But it’s also about an older generation that refuses to let go. Old ways, old customs, old hatreds. Especially old ignorance. It festers and grows, infecting younger generations who are struggling to break free from this toxic behavior. This is met by a younger generation that wants to escape, evolve. But they’re trapped by the needs and traditions of those who have come before them. Who refuses to leave, no matter the price.

All of this is wrapped up in the story of a haunted house. Something is creeping in the corners and shadows. Something haunting Noemi’s dreams. Something that seems to be driving Catalina mad.

Woven among this story, is a love story between Noemi and Francis, the youngest son of the family. It blends through brilliantly and seems like a natural process. The book wouldn’t have been half so good without it.

Sylvia Moreno-Garcia is one of those authors that makes you add all of her books to your to-read list as soon as you finish one. The story was classic and clever. It was nestled in a haunted house story that we’ve read a hundred times, with a new twist I didn’t see coming. I loved every second of it.

Have you read Mexican Gothic? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments below. 

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