Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2020)

Noemí isn’t in high society any more.

  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2020)
  • Del Rey, Horror
  • Audible (10h 39m), read by Frankie Corzo, Finished 1/17/2022

Noemí, a socialite, returns home from a date with Hugo. Her father shows her a troubled, rambling letter from her newly wed cousin Catalina about ghosts and her husband poisoning her, asking for help from Noemí. Her father asks her to go visit and find out what's going on, because he doesn't trust Catalina's husband, a stranger to the family. Noemí goes on a trip. One chapter, that's all I need to know this is worth buying.

Review

I hate descriptions of media as “X meets Y,” but … I would describe Mexican Gothic as Dracula meets The Shining, with a dash of Day of the Triffids thrown in.

Overall I really liked Mexican Gothic. It’s a “stylish” gothic psychological horror, I think set somewhere around the 1950s (that’s what Wikipedia says, at least, though I don’t remember the book itself ever specifying precisely), with lavish characters and dialog brimming with tension, a book from another time, when paragraphs were paragraphs and narrative voices were third person. It’s easy to imagine this as a black-and-white Alfred Hitchcock movie.

It’s not without flaws, but they are minor. The “reveal” didn’t really land with me. It seemed more mundane than what the setup had been promising.

Our heroine Naoemí’s entrance into the story was fairly contrived. “Hey, go to that spooky house. Okay!” But then, the reasons that characters go into spooky situations–and stay there–are often paper thin in horror. You just have to suspend disbelief.

There were a number of times when I found the grammar and dialog choices jarringly anachronistic, probably in an attempt to give younger modern audiences some Marvel-style applause lines. But it struck me more as a lack of polished editing. This book should have been in a 1950s voice from start to finish, but it wavered sometimes, like an impersonator whose accent drifted now and then.

The audiobook is a good listen, although the narrator Frankie Corza displayed a frustrating lack of enthusiasm from time to time. I like narrators to try to match the emotional tone of what they’re reading in the book, and this one didn’t.

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