The reviews of Mexican Gothic are … divided to say the least. There’s more than a handfull of glowing five star reviews and a smaller but still significant number that just didn’t get what the fuss was about. Halfway through… I totally get it.
I think the main problem is the absolute tonal shift that happens about halfway through the book.
The first half is a slow burn. We’ve got Noemí Taboada, a firey, passionate Mexican young Mexican woman who’s sent off to see what’s up with her cousin– married to an English gentleman that lives off in the country in what feels like a transplanted bit of England (for a reason, we’ll get to that). For the most part, it’s a study in contrasts. The English family is about as stereotypically English as you get and Noemí … doesn’t fit in well.
As we get on to the halfway point–things start to get creepy. There’s a definite feel of mold and decay to the house and even the family; not to mention the creepy dreams.
And then… things really go off the rails. It turns out that the mushrooms and decay are actually a key part of the family. They’ve been keeping the head of the household alive for centuries and let him eventually control anyone in the house . It’s wonderfully creepy. Gruesome at times, but for the most part, it’s more of a psychological sort of horror.
Overall, a wonderfully terrifying book. I greatly enjoyed it. If anything, I would say that the first half could have been a fair bit shorter to get into the horror more quickly and there could have been a bit more of the ‘Mexican’ part of Mexican Gothic (Noemí is great, but the family of High Place is very very English). Still worth the read if you’re into this sort of thing.