Mexican Gothic offers a creepy fall read

Mexican Gothic creates ample representation for Mexican women.

Photo from Wikipedia, property of Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic creates ample representation for Mexican women.

Ariel Lopez, Assistant A&E Editor

For those looking for a modern Gothic novel with Mexican representation, multi-genre author Sylvia Moreno-Garcia’s 2020 novel Mexican Gothic is the book you are looking for! Trigger Warning: This book contains sexual assault. 

Set in the 1950s, the story follows Noemi Taboada, a young Mexican socialite who visits her cousin, Catalina, after receiving an abnormal letter. Following Catalina’s marriage to Virgil Doyle, an Englishman that lives in an eerie Victorian home in Mexico, Noemi goes to the Victorian home to check up on her cousin, but during her visit, secrets about the home unfold before her eyes. 

Moreno-Garcia’s writing draws in the reader. Her storytelling leaves readers wanting more of what happens to the well-educated Noemi Taboada. Moreno Garcia’s words come together in a poetic manner, going into great detail about the setting and characters. 

Although the novel’s style draws the reader in, the pacing can come across as slow, leaving the best creepy aspects rushed towards the last quarter of the book. This leads to an underdeveloped romance between Noemi and her love interest, Francis. Still, once their relationship is established, it is difficult to not root for the couple to make it in the end. 

The author does an excellent job developing the main character, Noemi. At first, Noemi seems unlikeable because of her spoiled, rebellious tendencies. Noemi is an excellent representation for a Mexican character, as she is not a “stereotypical” Mexican woman from the 1950s. Rather, she is a woman who values her education and family. 

Even though Noemi seems unlikeable in the beginning because of her flaws, she learns from her mistakes like any good character.

The creepy and eerie tone of the novel is established through both the setting and the novel’s antagonist, Virgil Doyle. Moreno-Garcia goes into great detail explaining the details of High Place, the infamous Victorian home that is rotting and falling apart. 

Virgil Doyle adds to the creepy aspect, as he acts upon sexual assault. This is an important part which starts a discussion on how disgusting this is, and that this subject should not be treated lightly. This can help encourage readers to speak out against sexual assault. 

Overall, the novel has a strong feminist theme. Noemi is not seen as a damsel in distress; she uses her wit to solve her problems. Both Noemi and Catalina do not follow the stereotypical classic Gothic novel trope of women being used as a foil or an object to drive the plot forward. They help each other because of their strong familial love and care for one another. 

This Gothic novel can be a great read for the fall, finally giving Mexican women excellent representation.

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos