Mexican Gothic By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Despite the title, most of the characters are English. However, the novel does take place in 1950s Mexico. Noemí’s newlywed cousin Catalina, who is a big fan of Wuthering Heights, appears to have gone crazy. Her latest letter mentions ghosts and begs Noemí to come to her.

So young socialite Noemí heads off to the isolated, moldy, old mansion with an ouroboros theme where Catalina is being held. Here, she meets Catalina’s in-laws: the eugenics enthusiast Uncle Howard, her cousin’s predatory husband Virgil, stern Florence, and Francis, the friendly one. There are also servants, however they largely don’t talk or even acknowledge Noemí. The rules of the house (no smoking, no talking during dinner, no going into town, no seeing Catalina except during approved times, etc.) create a stifling atmosphere.

The family claims Catalina just has tuberculosis, but Noemí thinks it’s something psychological. Since the novel takes place during a time period when Mexican women couldn’t even vote, Noemí has very little influence. Despite the rules, Noemí begins to investigate. The townspeople tell her of a curse on the family and all the tragic deaths in their past.

The nightmare sequences are well done, as is the slow reveal of all the family’s secrets. I really enjoyed the first two-thirds of the novel. However, when what was really going on was finally revealed, it did seem a bit silly.

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