On Torment – A Review of Isabel Cañas’s The Hacienda


Funny how life gets in the way as you get older. I have been reading a lot – just not blogging any reviews lately. Procrastination at its best – ha! OK – onto the review. So this story was marketed as Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca. I haven’t read Rebecca but I absolutely LOVED Mexican Gothic. It was my first ever gothic fiction read, and I loved all of the creepy yet disturbing gothic/horror elements that story had to offer. So, I was super excited to get my hands on this book.

Beatriz meets her knight in shining armor at a ball, Don Rodolfo Solorzano. He was rich, handsome, and owned an estate – La Hacienda San Isidro. This was music to her ears, and eventually his mutual attraction to her led him to propose to her. Now. There were rumors surrounding both the hacienda and his first (dead) wife. But, she chose to ignore it because at present, her and her mom were living under the roof with her aunt and uncle and being treated like slaves due to Beatriz’s dark skin. Marrying Rodolfo would mean that she’d have the hacienda in her name, and make a new home and beginning for her and her mother.

Once the marriage was officiated, Dona Beatriz Solorzano entered Hacienda San Isidro. She met Juana – Rodolfo’s sister that he had never once mentioned before – along with the housekeeper, Ana Luisa. They seem to be getting in the way of her being the lady of the land. What she doesn’t understand is why? She sees a dark room while Rodolfo was showing her around the hacienda for the first time, and she was told never to enter the room. Again. Why? Despite her not knowing, she goes along with it – and sleeps beside her husband in his warmth and comfort. The next day, he has to leave for his political events and won’t be home for a while. She is fine with this as she had plans to redecorate the hacienda anyway.

However, things didn’t go so much as planned. She sees a skeleton with glowing red eyes in broad daylight where it was a wall seconds earlier. Then when she seeks help and brings them to the scene, it is as it was – just a wall. At night when she walks the hallway to enter her room, she hears noises. At Ana Luisa’s instruction, she would carry the copal with her – given by Ana Luisa – as she entered the hallway – and held close to her at all times. The noises at night however, would. not. stop.

Eventually, she had the priests from the local church come say a few prayers for the hacienda – but she wanted more than that. She wanted an exorcist. The priest was furious with the idea and shunned Beatriz away. Except one. Padre Andres. He said he had felt evil in the household, and would return to help rid of it. Except – that wasn’t an easy task either.

The night Padre Andres returned, Beatriz insisted on staying by his side as she no longer felt safe in the house by herself – let alone in her room. He countered and insisted he be alone for the night, but Beatriz had a my house, my rules attitude so he let her stay with him. That night she learns that he is actually a witch, as he drew his circle on the floor and performed his spells to try and draw out the evil. She promised she would not say a word about this to anyone as it would end his job with the church. But throughout the process, the evil spirit took him out and the next day, Ana Louisa was found dead in her bed – believed to also been taken by this evil spirit. Padre Andres was fine – except when the spirit took him out, he crashed his head really hard and had forgotten the words to his spell to fully close the circle.

And ….. I stopped. About 200 pages into the book – i just couldn’t finish it. The chapters were very long – and the reward was always very little. The book is 342 pages long, and by the 200 page mark, I would have expected to know a lot more than what I have read. Most books take me roughly 1-2 weeks to finish, but this one – after a month I was only on page 200! I was only able to read 1 chapter a night where other books I’m able to read 2-4 (long chapters included). Not much happens in a single chapter, and it’s the same scared Beatriz with her seemingly new love interest towards Padre Andres. Very unsatisfying. And, it just doesn’t work for me. I’ve seen this book being applauded even by authors I love like Simone St. James – but it just wasn’t my cup of tea I guess.

I may be in the minority here as a lot of people really liked this book. I am still debating on finishing the book because I hate leaving books unfinished. I have only done this one other time and after putting it off for a couple of years, I decide to read it again and halfway through – I had to put it down and accept that I wouldn’t finish that book. But, if I do end up finishing this book – it probably wouldn’t be for a while. Maybe I will change my mind about my current rating of the book when I do, or maybe I won’t. But, I do see so much more potential for this debut author. The thriller aspect was definitely there, but the gothic and rest of the story not so much. 2 out of 5 stars from me for this one.

If you’ve read this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it as well. Always happy to hear other perspectives on the same book even if we disagree 🙂


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