Mexican Gothic - Silvia Moreno Garcia - Book Review ★★★★☆


The typical Gothic heroine finally goes international.

Overview: 
What can I say - I love it! It is definitely targeted at adult readers but if a young adult were to read it I don't think it's going to be too offensive for them. Apart from the title itself the blurb totally sold me on its idea. It's textbook Gothic. Lonely house on top of the hill, attractive but sinister villain, a very cute hero, and a pretty feisty heroine. 
The only thing different about this book is that the heroine is not the regular Gothic fare i.e. a poor penniless almost adult woman seeking shelter. She's a smart, educated socialite. She cares about frivolous stuff like dresses and boys but she also cares about her mental development. She is nagging her dad to let her to the University for further studies which in the 1950s was very likely a groundbreaking notion. 
Ask me - my grandmother was the only woman of her time getting a Bachelor's Degree in a third world country. It was a radical notion and I am proud of it, but it did have its repercussions as well. 
Anyway, I'm digressing from Mexican Gothic. It has a small set of characters and a fairly restricted precinct where the story takes place. But it sure didn't stop me from flying through 321 pages of the book. 
I have come across quite a few reviews who did not find the book scary and to be honest, it never promised to be scary. I do believe that is because many people confuse the Gothic genre with horror. That is not true. Jane Eyre, Phantom of the Opera, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, Jamaica Inn- all Gothic fare - rarely feature pure horror. It's all about the atmosphere and a heroine in peril and a story that tethers on the edge of risque but rarely tips the boat over. 
I also keep reading in other reviews that the book is all about eugenics. I wouldn't go that far. The author certainly does not treat the subject matter in a highly serious light. It's more of a sci-fi element in the novel instead of an all-consuming idea that dominates the story. Personally, I feel the book attempts to bring the Mexican culture to the fore. This is a funny one - but I do believe that the horror-sci-fi element of the story seems like an allegory for the wifi internet. If you've read the book and you think the same - please mention it in the comment below! 

Title: 
The title and the cover are immediately eye-catching. It's not just the red-green color contrast, the word 'gothic' is very evocative and possibly my most favorite word in the fiction dictionary. 

Pacing: Consistent 

Negative: 
There's little, to almost nothing, negative I have to say about this novel. Saying that I do believe the book blurb seems unnecessarily long. The other thing I can say which I found surprising was that the cousin who she had gone to rescue was almost a vegetable - possibly because she is being controlled by her husband and his family. But during the story climax, her move to rescue everyone is a bit abrupt and her reversal back to being a vegetable as well. Also, surprising was how the novel, instead of being an authentic gothic novel, crosses into the new weird genre. 

Potentially Offensive Content: I've seen a fair few youtube reviews where readers get upset at the point where the villain is stalking the heroine. 

Positive: 
This is a fresh take on the Gothic genre. In fact, I think Silvia Moreno Garcia is a genius. Because now I want to read more gothic novels featuring non-English heroines set in places that are not dominated by English expatriates. Another excellent thing the author has done is that she has shown a new and previously unknown side of Mexico to the world. All I personally know about Mexico is the unending drugs and immigration war it has with the US. And that the original settlers were Spanish. It was so refreshing to read about a glamorous Mexico with a vibrant social scene, especially in the 1950s. This part of Mexico is featured very briefly in the opening chapters. The characters of the English family and their relationships with each other are fairly unusual. I love how there's no big bad anti-hero who comes along to save the day - it's wholly up to Naomie to solve this thing. It's nice to see the book feature a wholesome romance which was definitely never featured in any of the original books in the genre. 

Horror: The book hasn't got any pure horror element - it is a bit off-kilter and science-fictiony. It's a pleasant ride though. 

Conclusion: 
Well, what do you know? Apart from being nominated for Good Reads 2020 Choice Awards in the horror category Mexican Gothic is now coming to Hulu as a series. And I'm completely not surprised. I just hope the story is treated with the kind of respect Annihilation got from Netflix.

0 comments