This week’s book review on Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia comes from one of our customers, Ana. Over to Ana to tell us more!
Mexican Gothic tells the story of Noemí, a young, 1950s whose decadent life in Mexico City is shaken when she receives a letter from her cousin Catalina, claiming that her new husband is trying to kill her. Noemí must travel to the secluded cliffside estate of ‘High Place,’ to investigate Catalina’s claims about her new family – the Doyles. The story gently eases the reader and Noemí into the Gothic setting, from her cousin’s ramblings of ghosts in the walls, to the elderly patriarch who casually discusses eugenics at the dinner table. But the longer she stays, the more horrifying Noemí’s experiences at High Place. The only comfort she finds there is a tentative friendship with the youngest Doyle, Francis, who repeatedly warns her to return to Mexico City.
If you haven’t read any Gothic before then Mexican Gothic is a fantastic starting point, touching on a wide range of the genre’s most famous themes. On the other hand, if you are familiar with the Gothic, then you might enjoy the nods to older works such as the disembodied heartbeat Noemí hears at times – a reference to Edgar Allen Poe. But Mexican Gothic is more than a repackaging of old Gothic themes, it raises important questions about class, gender, and, above all, race. While Noemí is of indigenous Mexican ancestry, the Doyles are pale, blonde, and English. She is both undermined and fetishized for her dark features and, as the story goes on, you begin to realise that the Doyles might have more than a casual interest in eugenics.
This is only the latest of Moreno-Garcia’s novels, and I will definitely be checking out some of her older works soon.