Mexican Gothic

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Paperback, 2021

Status

Checked out
Due Nov 23, 2023

Publication

Del Rey (2021), 352 pages

Description

Fantasy. Fiction. Romance. Historical Fiction. HTML:NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER  Its Lovecraft meets the Bronts in Latin America, and after a slow-burn start Mexican Gothic gets seriously weird.The Guardian   IN DEVELOPMENT AS A HULU ORIGINAL LIMITED SERIES PRODUCED BY KELLY RIPA AND MARK CONSUELOS WINNER OF THE LOCUS AWARD NOMINATED FOR THE BRAM STOKER AWARD ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, NPR, The Washington Post, Tordotcom, Marie Claire, Vox, Mashable, Mens Health, Library Journal, Book Riot, LibraryReads   An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . . From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico. After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noem Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. Shes not sure what she will findher cousins husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noem knows little about the region.      Noem is also an unlikely rescuer: Shes a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But shes also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousins new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noem; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemis dreams with visions of blood and doom.   Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the familys youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noem, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his familys past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The familys once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noem digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.    And Noem, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind. Its as if a supernatural power compels us to turn the pages of the gripping Mexican Gothic.The Washington PostMexican Gothic is the perfect summer horror read, and marks Moreno-Garcia with her hypnotic and engaging prose as one of the genres most exciting talents.NerdistA period thriller as rich in suspense as it is in lush 50s atmosphere.Entertainment Weekly.… (more)

Rating

½ (1122 ratings; 3.7)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Carmenere
As a gothic novel, this book really delivers. Moreno-Garcia has written a story containing all the elements of your classic gothic romance, a relative in distress, a sickly old man, an old english mansion, graveyards, fog and mysterious brothers, just to name a few. The twist in this story is the
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english mansion is in the center of Mexico!
The Doyle family moved from England to Mexico hundreds of years ago to mine silver. But lots of strange occurrences at the mansion begin to happen in the mountains of Mexico when the patriarch of the family's first wife dies under questionable circumstances.
It all adds up to an exciting page turner that should be in your beach bag this summer.
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LibraryThing member gbill
A young woman is sent by her father to a remote town to check up on her cousin, who shortly after getting married and moving away sent him a letter that seemed like a call for help. She arrives to find a dark mansion built on money from silver mining that’s well past its glory days, inhabited by
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a creepy, domineering family who assure her nothing’s wrong, and that her cousin is getting the proper medical care. She stays on with them to look after her cousin, but soon begins experiencing nightmares and eerie, disturbing visions.

The setup to this novel is solid, and I liked the strength in the female protagonist. The book is a page-turner but manages to sprinkle in some aspects of Mexican history, though I wish there had been more of that, and the other things the book mentions without going into depth, e.g. eugenics. The erotic allure of her cousin’s husband despite his aristocratic cruelty, as well as the sudden ‘shock’ type moments in the story make for its strongest moments. Dreams blend with reality and it’s hard to know where one leaves off and the other begins, something Moreno-Garcia renders very well. The haunting stems from both historical injustice and from a pretty interesting phenomena (which I won’t spoil), though as it plays out in ways that are pretty conventional. Overall, an entertaining read.
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LibraryThing member SharonMariaBidwell
An excellent book, surprising because most books I hear a buzz about don’t enthral me as well as this one did. Reviews on the cover include a recommendation to fans of books like Rebecca and that’s accurate. This is definitely gothic rather than visceral horror, though the situation Noemi
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Taboada finds herself in is horrible and even horrific. One particular kiss in the book will have everyone gagging. There’s an element of women coming under abuse, sexual and otherwise, but such is the truth in fact and fiction and is perfectly authentic to the plot, of which the author perfectly laid the stepping stones. I didn’t guess the family secret because it’s such an unusual dark mystery. I liked Noemi’s rebellious and tenacity; any weaknesses she shows fits in perfectly with the setting. Well-written and atmospheric, I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to. This is the first time I’ve heard of this author, though I see she has more books published, which I may well check out.
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LibraryThing member seongeona
Not sure why this was "Mexican" or set in the 1950s as very little of either seemed necessary for the story. I suppose it was the history of European mines in Mexico, the mistreatment of the workers, and the eventual decline of the operations that provided the setting and reason for the tale, but
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it could also have been set "anywhere, anytime" and it wouldn't have mattered. I disliked the main character immediately and that never changed throughout the story. She was shallow, manipulative, dishonest, and disrespectful. The sickly, bedridden, ever-gentle, always-sweet, captive cousin was equally unlikable. Pure, unrealistic, polar opposite fairy tale tropes. Would have been better, scarier with some real people but I suppose then it wouldn't be "gothic". The sex dreams were a bit out of place, and not welcome due to my dislike of the main character, but I could see them as a modern exposé on underlying themes of traditional gothic tales. All-in-all, a big disappointment for me when I was looking for a frightening, atmospheric, thoroughly Mexican-mythos-themed novel as rich, captivating and beautiful as the cover art. Frame the dust jacket, toss the book.
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LibraryThing member novelcommentary
Finished reading Mexican Gothic which was part of the gothic horror genre. The NPR host, Maureen Corrigan, had given it a good review so I though I would give it a try. I found parts of the book to be engrossing and the character of the young Mexican debutante, Naomi going to save her cousin from
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some kind of mystery up in the hills of Mexico to be OK. But I have to admit the narrative felt a little bit like watching a Scooby Doo cartoon, with all the characters running away from ghosts and the evil characters in the novel. I learned a bit about the silver mines in Mexico and the revolution of 1910, but I don’t think I’ll venture into that genre again.

Lines:
You are flighty, but you are stubborn about all the wrong things. Well, it’s time to use that stubbornness and energy to accomplish a useful task.

Many formerly thriving mining sites that had extracted silver and gold during the Colonia interrupted their operations once the War of Independence broke out. Later on, the English and the French were welcomed during the tranquil Porfiriato, their pockets growing fat with mineral riches. But the Revolution had ended this second boom. There were many hamlets like El Triunfo where one could peek at fine chapels built when money and people were plentiful; places where the earth would never again spill wealth from its womb.

After a shower, Noemí applied lipstick and lined her eyes with a little black pencil. She knew her large, dark eyes and her generous lips were her greatest assets, and she used them to excellent effect. She took her time going through her clothes and picked a purple acetate taffeta dress with a full, pleated skirt. It was too fine to be worn as a day dress—she had rung in 1950 in a similar outfit eight months before—but then she tended toward opulence.

mad as a hatter.” “I don’t understand.” “People said hatters were prone to going crazy, but it was the materials they worked with. They inhaled mercury vapors when they made felt hats. You still have to be careful with that stuff nowadays. You can mix mercury into paints to control mildew, but under the right conditions the compounds give off sufficient mercury vapor to make people sick. You could have everyone in a room going mad and it’s the paint job.”
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LibraryThing member baystateRA
Literary horror set in 1950s Mexico – excellent audio narration by Frankie Corzo. Recommended for anyone with a strong stomach who likes Gothic horror novels. This is not your usual haunted house story!
LibraryThing member imyril
A new Silvia Moreno-Garcia novel is always an event in my reading calendar and Mexican Gothic is possibly my favourite to date. Moreno-Garcia's triumph is in cheekily feeding you enough clues to be quite, quite certain this is a Gothic horror and in making her heroine Noemí such a thoroughly
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modern girl that - while she is suspicious of the horror-show Doyle family and their motivations - it never occurs to her. It is unapologetically creepy, a book for readers who love yelling it's behind you.

I delighted in the mash-up of Gothic tropes and weaponised debutante femininity to pass comment on themes including patriarchy, class, race, complicity and the difficulty of turning your back on a toxic inheritance. The writing is reliably elegant and the characters sharply, mercilessly observed. For all its grim moments - and Moreno-Garcia repeatedly went beyond my comfort zone with her deployment of truly horrible ideas and visuals - I was engrossed from start to finish.

A mesmerizing, claustrophobic tale, brilliantly told.

Full review

I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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LibraryThing member Penny_L
Science meets the supernatural in this folk horror novel set in 1950's Mexico.
After receiving a disturbing letter from her newly married sister, smart and sassy Noemi travels to a mansion built into the hills of an abandoned mining camp. Noemi enlists the help of local residents to sift through
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the history of the house, and the family her sister married into.
Reminiscent of both The Amityville Horror and The Skeleton Key, Noemi goes on a chilling journey that have left most inhabitants of the property insane or dead.
The cinematic writing, strong characters, and edge of your seat suspense pull you immediately into the story and keeps you there, page after page, until its climactic end.
This is the third novel I've read from Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I love her fresh and unique story telling and look forward to seeing where she goes from here.
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LibraryThing member brangwinn
Well-worth all the hype its been getting, and if the advance publicity doesn’t do it, the cover will pull you in. All I can say is I’ll never look at fungus and mushrooms in the same way. Moreno-Garcia is up to writing a story equal to Bronte or du Maurier in this post-colonial story of a
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racist English family who own silver mines in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico.
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LibraryThing member miss.mesmerized
A worrisome letter from her cousin Catalina brings Noemí to a remote place called „High Place“. Only a year ago, Catalina married Virgil Doyle and moved with him in the mansion close to a former mine where the British family made a fortune. Even though it is 1950, there is still no electricity
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in the house and Noemí feels like being in a British novel of the 19th century. Her cousin is in an awful state, not only physically, but also mentally and she does not only rely on the medication of the family doctor but also got some tincture from a local healer. Strange rules make it difficult for Noemí to adapt to life in the house and it does not take too long until she herself feels that something strange is going on in there. She has very lively nightmares and cannot get rid of the impression that the walls are talking to her. Is she also going mad like Catalina?

Quite often you open a novel and while reading you have the impression that the title and the plot do hardly have any connection. In Silvia Moreno-Garcia‘s book „Mexican Gothic“, however, the title perfectly announces what you will get: a wonderful Gothic horror story in the style of the 18th and 19th century. A spooky old mansion in a remote place without any available help close by, a mysterious cemetery whose inhabitants seem to wander about, nightmares, terror and morbidity accomplish it.

Noemí is presented as an educated yet a bit shallow young woman who cares more about partying and having fun than worrying about her family. Therefore, she only reluctantly follows her father‘s orders to put an eye on Catalina‘s situation. When she arrives at High Place, she continues her slightly contemptuous behaviour towards the Dolye family. Only after having talked to Catalina is she moved a bit and willing to help her cousin. Her stubbornness prevents her from being absorbed by the strange activities in the house.

Soon, however, the fine line between reality and insanity becomes more and more blurry, not only is neither the protagonist nor the reader sure if Noemí‘s dreams are only very vivid or if there are frightening things under way. And then, the horror show really begins.

I totally adored how the author gradually drags the young woman and the reader into this story which oscillates between fascinations and abhorrence. Even though you are well aware that most of what happens cannot be real, it is easy to imagine that in such an old house, ghosts could roam and walls could talk. A magnificent read which transports you to a time long gone and a world where much more is possible.
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LibraryThing member AngelaJMaher
Putting the word "Gothic" in a book's title gives it a particular vibe to live up to, and this book does it wonderfully. Full of delicious darkness and gloom, it has all the factors you want in a great Gothic novel, while maintaining it's own individual spirit. Simply wonderful.
LibraryThing member TooBusyReading
I love a good horror story, especially those with a bit of Gothic flavor, so I expected to love this popular book. It was, for me, just okay. Noemi receives a letter from her recently married cousin, irrationally worded but asking for help. So Noemi heads out to save Catalina. A good choice –
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someone who is flighty, a dilettante with a bit of a serious side, someone who is an unabashed flirt, and uses her flirtatiousness as a weapon? Perhaps. Perhaps not, We'll see. And she heads off to an isolated old mansion.

I was more than halfway through the book before much of anything happened. And then, it wasn't so much horror as just plain gross. Most of the characters were not very likable. But the bigger problem was that most of them were not very interesting. Catalina herself ended up being a minor character. I would have liked to have known more about her. This is an okay book for wiling away a few hours, but I didn't find it especially interesting, engaging, horrific, or Gothic.
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LibraryThing member ecataldi
What a ride! This gave off some real spooky vibes - reminiscent of The Haunting of Hill House and Rosemary's Baby. Mexican Gothic has a slow, unsettling, suspenseful pace where nothing adds up. Noemi's father sends her to a remote and isolated mansion in the Mexican countryside to check in on her
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cousin who has sent a very unsettling letter. Catalina mentions spirits, things in the walls, and voices and Noemi's father is convinced that someone needs to see her and evaluate if she needs medical help. When Noemi arrives she is instantly perturbed by the creaking old mansion; there is mold, windows don't open, and the staff and family are beyond peculiar and demanding. It's the most uninviting place she's ever seen. Like the letter suggested, her cousin Catalina is deeply disturbed and not right in the head. Noemi decides to stay and try to convince her cousin's husband to let her get psychiatric help or at least to get out of the damned house and get some fresh air. They're wrapped up in their own little world and something is deeply wrong. The longer she stays the more she too comes under the houses deeply disturbed spell. What is going on here and how can she and her cousin escape? Slow start, but one hell of an ending - didn't see it coming!
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LibraryThing member Beamis12
Noemi is a socialite, rather like a Scarlet O'Hara type of young women. She likes to flirt, leave men dangling for her favors, loves clothes and partying. Her father is wealthy and doesn't approve of her latest conquest. When he receives a strange message from his newly married young neice, he is
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worried enough to request that Noemi travel to the Mexican countryside to find out what is happening. When Noemi arrives at High Place, the name of the ancestral home of her cousins husband, she finds things very strange indeed.

Gothic in nature and tone, the creepiness and strangeness of this novel accelerates. All is not as it appears and things get stranger and stranger. I fervently hoped that the young man I liked would not become a villian, but this family has many secrets and are committed to keeping them hidden. Noemi will discover hidden strengths, which she will desperately need to survive. As things decelerate into outright horror and the secrets the house is harboring is revealed, I couldn't help comparing it to The Shining. The situations are different but the power held in the house, its hold on those inside, becomes apparent. It also shows how those in charge will do anything to keep what they have, how little those in the way mean to them.

Quite good and chilling, strange and horrifying. Could be I was just in the mood for something though unbelievable pulled me out of myself.

ARC from Edelweiss.
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LibraryThing member jmoncton
This was not my cup of tea and not because it was poorly written. The descriptions are vivid and it's easy to get totally immersed in it. Too easy. I got to the point where I just wanted it to end. Not because it was too scary, but almost too incredible with a touch of really gross. If you like
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horror, you might love this book, but definitely, not my genre.
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LibraryThing member DrFuriosa
Imagine Jane Eyre meeting a Carmen Maria Machado story, with a good dose of "The Yellow Wallpaper" and every story about gaslighting you've ever heard, with Ann Radcliffe novels sprinkled on top, wrapped in a waffle cone of Get Out. That's Mexican Gothic, and I mean that as an enormous compliment.
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This is a compelling, well-written, vivid, and just plain scary story about not believing what you see with your own eyes. Ordinarily, this kind of gothic story is not my taste, but I found myself pulled into the world of the story and really rooting for the protagonist. If you enjoy Gothic literature, women's fiction, the Bronte sisters, or thriller/horror, this book is a must-read for you.

*Note #1: I am a real scaredy-cat, and this book was Not That Scary. It was, however, deeply strange.
*Note #2: I will not give anything away, but I feel very smug about my MUSHROOMS ARE EVIL stance on life right about now.
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LibraryThing member bookworm12
I’m on the fence about a rating for this one. While I do love gothic mysteries and this one starts out in a similar tone as my favorite, Rebecca, it got progressively darker and some of the descriptions were just too gross. Without those it would have been a winner for me. The plot was a good one
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and I love the creepy old house and eerie family. But there was a bit too much icky stuff for my taste.
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LibraryThing member Darcia
Gothic horror is one of my favorite genres to read, but also one of the most challenging genres to write well. While I enjoyed Mexican Gothic, I didn't feel the level of adoration many readers have expressed.

The writing has a beautiful literary quality, making for an enjoyable journey.

Pacing is
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problematic throughout. The story starts with a great hook. Then we fall into a lull of historical drama. The slow burn isn't quite enough to build or even maintain tension. Then the final third moves almost too quickly in comparison, rushing us through the horror aspect of the story when things of interest finally start happening.

I wanted more atmosphere. Noemi has no interest in exploring High Place, and she questions little of what goes on there. Since she's our narrator, we only see things from her limited perspective. The setting has all the pieces for a fantastically creepy story, but we spend way too much time on Noemi's self-obsessed drama, and not nearly enough time on the creep factor of the house and its inhabitants.

The big reveal is more weird than scary. Again, here I divert from the majority opinion because I thought it was overblown, bordering on silly. At no point was I scared or even worried about the outcome.

Overall, I'm just neutral on the whole reading experience.
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LibraryThing member Slevyr26
3.5 stars rounded up - finally, a story that is plot driven and holds my attention! Apparently this is a very difficult thing for me to do anymore: read a book and simultaneously enjoy it. As the title would imply, I really enjoyed the gothic feel of a mansion on a mountain in middle-of-nowhere
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Mexico. So spooky and easy to envision with Silvia Moreno-Garcia's writing. There was such a good sense of place and time. We love an independent 1950s female badass like Noemi with a mind of her own.

As is typical and typically annoying of me, I had a few gripes with the flowery language used in some places and in others not. I noticed that sometimes the way Noemi thought and spoke would follow one sort of way and then suddenly feel out of place, too modern and sardonic for what we were previously shown. This happened throughout the novel for me, where I was slightly taken aback by the change in tone and took me out of the story. However, it wasn't hard to get back into it and rejoin the others at High Place.

Overall, a captivating, original read.
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LibraryThing member sparemethecensor
The first two chapters of this are a little uneven. I persisted because I do truly love gothic novels, and I am SO glad I did. This is a stunning transplant of Victorian-era gothic literature into Mexico. The clash of cultures -- the English Doyles, the rich Mexican Taboadas, the impoverished town
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residents connected to indigenous ways -- provides a truly engaging backdrop for a cool, sultry mystery. The payoff is there, too. I am really impressed. I'll be looking for more of her novels. If you want creepy family secrets in decrepit old manors, and a young woman who will solve the mystery, you got it here. Loved it.
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LibraryThing member SJGirl
There were some areas where this didn’t entirely work for me, however, I did enjoy the heroine, Noemi.

Hallucinations or deep dives into a character’s dream state, that type of scene pretty much never appeals to me. If it’s a dream or hallucination then it hasn’t actually happened and it
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tends to feel like a waste of time/pages to me. Unfortunately, there’s an abundance of hallucinations and dreams in Mexican Gothic. It’s totally a personal preference issue, there will undoubtedly be readers who love the creepiness of those scenes and who will feel like they do affect the story (and I guess some of them do to a degree), it’s just that for me, my mind wanders when I have doubts about a scene’s relevancy, I end up not feeling as dialed in as I want to be in a reading experience. But again, that’s not truly a fault in the book, it’s just not my favorite type of scene.

Something else that really isn’t my favorite brand of storytelling were the explanations for an event from the past, as well as some of the explanation for what was currently happening in the house, for the most part, it came out in large chunks of telling, so while it revealed new information which probably should have increased the tempo, the long-winded nature of the reveals slowed the momentum.

Thanks to the Bronte sisters (and a few others) I tend to associate Gothic with romance, and while this book by no means bills itself as a romance, if that’s in part what you’ve come for, you may be disappointed as Noemi’s options in the house are not great, either a married lecher or someone so timid that’s it’s fairly impossible to imagine him being a proper match for her anytime soon, and unfortunately though there’s someone in town who maybe could have been a possibility the story never went there.

All of that said, there were some things I did like, it’s very atmospheric, you can very much picture the fog, the house, and the life-threatening ravines, and the overall eerie vibes. Noemi’s wardrobe was described to perfection, it’s what I’ll be most desperate for the upcoming television adaptation to get right. And lastly there’s Noemi herself, intelligent, brave, ambitious, she’s not the sort of horror heroine who meekly goes along, she questions things, she advocates for her cousin and herself, she’s far and away the reason I managed to stick with this book all the way to the end.
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LibraryThing member Kristelh
This book is described as a combo of Lovecraft and Brontes set in Mexico. The time period is the 1950s. Noemi is sent by her business man father to check on a cousin who married and is living in the Mexican countryside. Noemi is in part superficial debutant and in part a strong, brave heroine. The
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setting of High Place is creepy with mold, mushrooms, rain, darkness. There is the hint of romance but it is a minor theme. Really most of the male characters are just plain creepy or milk toast. Over all, I enjoyed the story, it entertained, I didn't have to work to hard to read it and it worked for me at this time.
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LibraryThing member bookwyrmm
The horror aspects were great but the gothic elements were not at the level I expected them to be.
LibraryThing member AdonisGuilfoyle
What a perfect story to read for Halloween! I was captivated by the heroine, Noemi, and transfixed by the horrors of High Place throughout, even though I always felt one step ahead of the unravelling mystery. The nods to classic gothic tales like Wuthering Heights, The Woman in White, Dracula and
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even Rebecca (although that could just have been my imagination) only added to my enjoyment.

Noemi, a young socialite, is sent from her life of parties and handsome suitors in Mexico City to check on her ailing cousin, now living in the mountains. Catalina has recently married the charming but sly son of the Doyles, an English family who made their name and dwindling riches in silver mining. She moved to his family's home on the former mine and was thought by Noemi's family to be happy, until a disturbing letter is received hinting at illness and captivity. Noemi, brash and forthright, goes to stay with the family while she finds out what is wrong with Catalina, yet the mold on the walls and the heavy mist in the cemetery next to the house are only the start of the nightmare.

The plot and the characters are that perfect blend of gory horror and psychological warfare that sets a foreboding atmosphere better than any haunted house. Creepy men, cruel women and something nasty lurking in the family crypt. Noemi is like the sole Technicolor frame in a black and white film, all modern (1950s) style and brash speech - she reminded me of Emma Woodhouse ('A woman who is not liked is a bitch and a bitch can hardly do anything: all avenues are closed to her'), which made me love her all the more. Poor Francis, the weakling cousin and only friendly family member, was also very sweet. The clues were hard to ignore, from the sweet-tasting wine to the fascination with mushrooms and the statue to 'Mother' (add Psycho to the list!), but I was more interested in finding out if Noemi was going to escape than waiting for the literary equivalent of jump scares.

Well crafted and fun to read - the cover is beautiful too! I'll never look at mushrooms in the same way again!
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LibraryThing member viviennestrauss
Rebecca meets Rosemary's Baby meets... I don't know what. I hope I can one day enjoy fungi again, and pretty wallpaper.

Language

Original language

English

Original publication date

2020-06-30

Physical description

352 p.; 8.21 inches

ISBN

052562080X / 9780525620808

Other editions

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