Mexican Gothic

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Family bonds have never been so strong

1950s socialite, Noemí, receives a worrying letter from her recently married cousin, Catalina, and sets off to investigate. Catalina is now living with husband, Virgil, at his family home, High Place, a remote, dilapidated pile in which the family’s history and traditions are kept very much alive.

This is gothic in the Hammer Horror style, with a haunted house, women wandering around in floaty attire (usually nighties or antique wedding dresses), an attractive Machiavellian antagonist, lots of gore and a malevolent fungus. What’s not to like?

The horror tropes are deftly handled and balanced with a light wit. The writing is sensual and atmospheric:

The house, so quiet, with its curtains drawn was like a dress lined with lead.

Moreno-Garcia has created a winning character in Noemí, who has her flaws (if partying, disposable boyfriends and a love of fashion can be considered flaws), but over the course of the novel matures into a believable, strong woman.

The author has a knack for writing page-turning adventures (Gods of Jade and Shadow, set in jazz age Mexico) which draw on myths from a variety of cultures. She refreshes the gothic genre with comment on eugenics.

Pacey, full of action and hugely enjoyable.

Amanda Read is a novelist and short story writer. Her novel LOST & WAITING releases on 2 July.

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