On Romanticism – A Review of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic

While attending community college, I studied liberal arts; specifically English Education. My favorite classes were British Literature I & II (split into 2 classes). My favorite time period was Romanticism and the Victorian Era especially in the areas where they overlapped. I loved that Victorian poets would romanticize things differently than authors of the Romantic Period. Romantic authors showed appreciation and adoration for nature wheres ones from the Victorian Era viewed this same nature in a realistic, more imperfect way. One such genre often romanticized was gothicism. Romantic/Victorian Era poets Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold and Edgar Alan Poe were a few authors that came to mind while reading Mexican Gothic.

“The walls speak to me. They tell me secrets.”

Our protagonist Noemi and her father received a letter from her newly-wed cousin Catalina Doyle that she is not doing well. In her letter, she is both frantic and absurd; not making much sense. Catalina’s cry for help ended up sending outgoing Noemi to take the semester off of school and travel to the countryside of Mexico City to check in on her cousin. This meant no more partying, no more boys, and a boring semester off in a faraway place. However, this excursion turned out to be so much more than that. Upon entering the Doyle’s household, the darkness that accompanied and surrounded its estate was definitely very Browning-esque. This was High Place, a Victorian style manor house owned by the well-known English family: The Doyles.

“It’s quite a lovely house once it gets to know you.”

The events that follow are both creepy and horrific. We are talking about voices in the walls, keeping a family tradition alive through incest, symbols of a serpent eating its own tail or better known as the ouroboros – an eternal cycle. Noemi was sent to High Place to become the heroine of the story in an almost impossible situation. This was only made possible when she befriended the youngest member of the Doyle family, Francis.

There is so much I want to say about this book, but I couldn’t do that without spoiling the story. This is set in an older, more Victorian time period (’50’s) where racism was still common as well so that topic is touched on in the book as well. I did listen to the audiobook version of this read by Frankie Corzo who did an amazing job narrating the story. If you are OK with some of the darker elements mentioned above, then I strongly urge you to pick up this book and go on this journey with Noemi Taboada and enjoy this dark and creepy ride.


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