Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia has been on my wish list for a while and I've read seemingly a gazillion reviews of it, so I was really excited when the e-book went on sale at a reasonable price. I may be terrible about getting around to reading e-books but desperation is very motivating and I really truly wanted to read it. 

Noémi is a party girl who lives in Mexico City in a sprawling, modern home, with her wealthy father. When she receives a rambling, incoherent note from the cousin who used to live with them, her father says she must go find out what's wrong with Catalina. Noémi doesn't really want to go but she knows it's the right thing to do. 

She's met at the train station by Catalina's husband and taken on a long drive up into the mountains to their remote home. This is where the "gothic" bit comes in. The home is an old mansion in poor repair and Catalina lives with her husband's family, including the patriarch of the family, a cousin, and the cousin's mother. There's mold on the walls and the family has bizarre rules that they expect Noémi to abide by (no talking during meals, no smoking, no bothering her cousin unless they feel she's okay to receive visitors). Catalina appears to be sick but maybe more in spirit than in health; her personality is entirely different from the carefree, happy soul of pre-marriage. But, Noémi isn't sure what's wrong and she's determined to get to the bottom of it. 

There's much more to the story, of course, including a growing attraction to cousin Francis and weird dreams that may be caused by the house, itself.

Recommended but not a favorite - Although I never fell massively in love with the plot, I liked about the first 2/3 of Mexican Gothic for the atmosphere, the creepy people, the weird dreams, and the questions that all this strangeness brought up. Why did Catalina's personality change? What was in the potion she had Noémi fetch from town? Was Catalina's husband just imprisoning her so he could keep her money or was there more to the story? What was up with the patriarch of the family and his need for silence? What was the reason for the murder in the family, years ago? What happened to all the other people who died near the house or in the family's long-closed silver mine?

See, I told you there was more to the story. Around the 2/3 mark, Mexican Gothic got a bit too weird for me and I considered giving up. Instead, I flipped to the end of the book and read a few pages to see if it looked like the book was worth sticking out. The ending looked promising so I continued, but I confess I pushed myself to read faster. The reason for all the strange happenings was just a little too bizarre for my taste. I did find the ending satisfying, though, so I have no regrets. And, I loved Noémi. She's a great, strong female character who was devoted to Catalina enough to refuse to leave, even when things became seriously weird and even dangerous. I also liked Francis and was rooting for Catalina, Francis, and Noémi to escape. 

My friend Brittanie started reading Mexican Gothic a few days after I did so we got to discuss it, which always adds to the reading experience. So glad I've been able to occasionally find people to discuss books with; I am missing my F2F group but the hole they fill in my life has been kept nicely plugged by discussion with other online friends and I so appreciate that. 

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  1. I keep seeing this one around but it's not calling to me. I think it's funny that you flipped to the end to see if it was worth continuing. I will read super fast and skim with care to get through a book that is not working for me. Right now, I am doing that with the end of An American Marriage. I am just tired of these people.

    1. I don't do that often, flipping to the end to see if it's worth the journey, but now and then I just have to know in advance! LOL The fact that I considered abandoning the book 2/3 of the way into it says something, for sure.

      Yep, I occasionally will speed up the reading if I'm growing tired of a book. It doesn't happen often because I'm generally quick to ditch books that aren't doing it for me. I did like the beginning of Mexican Gothic. Now, I don't remember if it had a sagging middle or I just didn't like where it was heading. Maybe a little of both.

      I haven't read An American Marriage because "marriage" is one of my turn-off words in a title. I know that's weird but it's a pretty strong mental block I haven't been able to get past, even though I really enjoyed Jones's Silver Sparrow.


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