by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Published June 30, 2020 by Del Rey
Rating: 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Noemi is a young socialite living in Mexico City and finding her path in life. When her cousin, Catalina, writes an odd and concerning letter to Noemi’s father, he feels that Noemi should travel to Catalina and ensure she is okay.
Catalina lives in High Place with her new husband Virgil Doyle. Catalina met Virgil a year or so ago and they had a whirlwind romance and were married within a short period of time. Once married, Virgil whisked his new bride to his family estate deep in the country where power is limited and phone lines are non-existent.
When Noemi arrives to High Place, she’s surprised by the isolation and the dreariness of the countryside. High Place is in near ruins with very little working electricity, thin walls, and many unused and decrepit rooms. The people of High Place are also strange – Francis, Virgil’s cousin, is rail thin and pale as a ghost; his mother is very severe and rigid with a multitude of rules even her guest is expected to follow; the servants are nearly mute and completely ignore Noemi; and worst of all, Howard Doyle, the patriarch of the home and Virgil’s father, is an ancient, ailing man with backward opinions and unfiltered, inappropriate speech.
Noemi quickly realizes something is amiss at High Place. Though the Doyle’s Doctor claims Catalina is suffering from tuberculosis, none of her symptoms seem in line with the illness. Noemi herself begins to feel weird and have odd experiences at High Place. Her dreams become violent and life like, and her childhood sleepwalking habit seems to have resurfaced.
As Noemi begins to learn of the dark history of High Place, the surrounding mines, and the Doyle family, she’s worried something evil lurks in the walls of High Place and runs through the blood of the Doyle family. It’s possible something sinister, or even paranormal, is going on, and Noemi is determined to discover the truth and rescue her cousin.
Chelsey: This was such a beautifully written novel. High Place really came alive for me and I could feel the dampness, hear the silence, and sense the unease brooding around every corner. It was truly atmospheric and I loved the modern Gothic feel.
Laura: Absolutely! I loved how the author took the classic tropes of a Gothic novel – a crumbling mansion in a remote location, an aristocratic family fallen on hard times with lots of dark secrets and tragic pasts, and a plucky heroine – used them to write a story about a curious and strong young Mexican woman.
Chelsey: Yes, I particularly loved the female characters in this novel. Noemi was vain, flirtatious, and flippant. However, she was also incredibly intelligent, a feminist far ahead of her time, independent, and fiercely loyal.
And I wanted more of the stories of Ruth, Agnes, and Alice and it would be incredible if the author ever chose to do a prequel!
Laura: A prequel would be amazing!
I loved that on its surface, this is a Gothic horror novel and yet, if you scratch that surface, Silvia Moreno-Garcia worked in commentary about classism and racism. The Doyle family made money from the nearby mines, worked by indigenous people, using them, even killing them to gain wealth and power.
Chelsey: She touched on so many important and relevant issues! Mexican Gothic was thought provoking and the language was transportative.
Laura: Full of atmospheric descriptions of a mist enshrouded cemetery, unspoken family tragedies, mysterious symbols and repressive rules, this book is perfect for fans of Crimson Peak.
Chelsey: I am drawn to books with darker, Gothic themes and this one was wonderfully executed. If you love a slow burn mystery with dark and descriptive language, this one is definitely for you!