After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.
In Mexican Gothic Noemí, a young socialite, is summoned to sort out a problem with her recently married cousin, Catalina. The cousin is unwell and has sent Noemí an urgent letter, begging her to come. Catalina lives in the house of the very English Doyle family, into which she married. And not all is as it seems…
I loved this book. There’s a definite tension between Noemí and the very British Doyles, who refuse to speak Spanish and have made their fortunes mining silver from the nearby mine, though the mine and the fortunes are now derelict. There’s a real sense of atmosphere here, of claustrophobia, with mouldy rooms and a suitably spooky mist-shrouded graveyard. Noemí struggles to find time to spend with her cousin, but is all the more determined to get to the bottom of what’s going on.
The story unfolds gently at first, as we’re drawn into the characters and their lives, becoming more tense and creepy as we move into the second half of the book. I finished this book in a day, knowing that I just had to read on, to find out what was going on with the Doyles and their deeply unsettling house.
A splendid mystery, gloriously gothic, and beautifully told. Highly recommended. I’m off to go investigate what else Morena-Garcia has written, because on the strength of this book, she is very much an author to watch.
Mexican Gothic by Slyvia Morena-Garcia is published by Jo Fletcher Books and is out now. Many thanks to the publisher for a review copy via NetGalley