Book Reviews

Break Out Your Dustiest Earl Grey: A Review of Mexican Gothic

GREETINGS: Already read Mexican Gothic? Check out Oak + River Books’ first Nature in the Novel post, exploring ecocriticism within Mexican Gothic.

Noemí Taboada travels to a mansion in the misty woods to keep tabs on her questionably ill and confused cousin who was recently married to the son of an old-wealth family. After some frightening encounters, she soon learns that family secrets flow deeper than the foundation of the house. Will Noemí uncover the truth in time save her cousin, or will she even be able to save herself? 

Mexican Gothic is haunting.

Haunting in a way that might keep you awake all night but also because you WILL read all night long just to find out what happens next.

This historical fiction/horror novel takes place in 1950s Mexico – a specific and refreshing setting that sets Moreno-Garcia apart from the mainstream, and etching a niche that I would be happy to see additional well-researched writers enter.

In a way I hope my fellow book enthusiasts understand, I truly appreciated the amount of detail and the vocabulary used (I had to look up the definition of a couple words: antimacassar and susurrus).

Photo by Ian Panelo on Pexels.com

When I began reading Mexican Gothic, I had vibes of somewhere between Gossip Girl and Wuthering Heights: debutante and socialite Noemí is the GG and the dark and foreboding landscape is WH. After multiple Wuthering Heights references, I was glad we were all on the same page. Plus, Noemí Traboada’s intelligence and tenacity make her an admirable heroine.

Let me explain my post title: a dusty earl grey tea sounds just right for reading a book that centers around a foggy forest and where the author uses colors like grey almost as if they were characters. Plus, have you ever had a London Fog latte? It’s delicious. I’ve also had an amazing earthy and vanilla rooibos latte… but I digress.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

The color descriptions and references to the natural world bring this novel to another level. It’s one thing to be told that something has a golden hue and it’s entirely another to show how that affects the whole scene. Moreno-Garcia is a master at this; her descriptions are compelling and mesmerizing.

Jessica Wick at NPR wrote, “The Gothics knew the only thing more full of horrors than the landscape is the human heart, that the human heart is a haunting.”

How beautiful is that statement.

And how accurate!

I had anticipated Mexican Gothic to be more of a psychological/medical thriller but what I got was a gripping tale whose icy tendrils I can feel clawing at me as I think about going to bed.

I would still love there to be a sequel. Silvia if you ever read this – I implore you to write a sequel!

A good book is like a companion: for a few days you go everywhere together, the conversation is never dull, then when the escapade is over you aren’t sure what to do with yourself.

Mexican Gothic is that companion.

Grab a cup of tea and let me know what you thought of Mexican Gothic! Happy reading, friends!

PS. In a couple days I’ll be doing a supplementary post on the theme of nature in Mexican Gothic. It’s an ecocritical approach that will dive into the content of the book. Subscribe to get notified when this new post goes live!