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Review: Mexican Gothic

Updated: May 19

2/5 stars

TW: Allusions to sexual assault, incest, suicide, cannibalism, murder

Suspense/horror/thriller story, gothic Mexican setting, beautiful cover art... should've been great. A few years ago I tried another one by Moreno-Garcia, called Gods of Jade & Shadow, and I guess I should've learned my lesson, because I didn't like that one much either. I'd heard really great things about Mexican Gothic, though! Ah well. It wasn't awful, by any means, just too long, too weird, and too rudimentary in the writing style. It's a little more than 2 stars, but less than 3.

Socialite Noemi lives in Mexico City, living it up with boyfriends and parties. But when her father receives an odd letter from her cousin Catalina, he asks Naomi to go check on her. Catalina, recently married, now lives outside of the city in the Doyle mansion, with her husband Virgil's family. Her letter spoke of being poisoned, and of people living in the walls.

When Noemi arrives she finds the Doyle family to be a cold and creepy, and at times downright sinister. She begins to have extremely vivid and disturbing nightmares. She is rarely allowed to see Catalina, and must follow house rules, like no smoking, no speaking at the dinner table, and no going into town. Despite all this weirdness, she lingers, trying to find ways to speak to Catalina without any family members present. It's a very, very slow burn at the beginning, where mostly Noemi just wanders around the house, has crazy nightmares, and strikes up conversations, and a flimsy, diluted romance, with the youngest Doyle male, Virgil's cousin Francis.

It's a lot of one-note characters, stunted dialogue, and weak plot until we find out what's really going on, at which point it's just bizarre, over-the-top horror elements mixed with some kind of pseudo-science about mushrooms that can make you immortal and help you control minds? I dunno. This book tried too hard. And it was too long. Could've made an excellent short story, though!

Yeah, this should have been a short story.


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