Mexican Gothic is alive with mansions and cemeteries, forests and mist, hauntings and rot; it swims in the murk of politics and ethics; it courts mad passion. As for monsters, the human antagonists dwelling on the pages of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s latest novel are some of the vilest I’ve met. Fortunately, the author also introduces us to Noemí Taboada, a smart and headstrong protagonist, to help us tackle them, and it is difficult to imagine anyone better suited for the job.
Set in 1950’s Mexico, Noemí ventures through a forest and up the side of a mountain to a family mansion that looms “like a great, quiet gargoyle.” A house which Noemí describes as “the abandoned shell of a snail”. This is High Place, where Noemí’s cousin has requested our heroine presence. And it is here that Moreno-Garcia steadily reveals the horrors that the cousin has married into, the force at the heart of the once-powerful Doyle family. So begins our exploration into the side of the human psyche hidden by shadow. Will Noemí survive? Will we ever be the same?
The novel was a joy to read because it was, not so much an example, but more a celebration of Gothic horror and the genre’s classic literature. If you haven’t read the genre before then I recommend Mexican Gothic as your starting point.
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