Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: A Comprehensive Review


Mexican Canadian author, Silvia Moreno-Garcia has a significant impact on contemporary literature with over 20 books to her credit. “Gods of Jade and Shadow,” “Silver Nitrate,” and “The Daughter of Doctor Moreau,” are some of the most popular novels from her pen. Known for her unique storytelling, she has the ability to mesmerize her readers with her beautiful writing style and enchanting plots. “Mexican Gothic” is another captivating novel by Silvia, plunging the readers into the mysterious depths of high place, a secluded mansion in the Mexican countryside. Filled with elements of horror and suspense, this masterpiece has garnered attention for its unique story and gothic themes. So in this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive review of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, explore its key themes, writing style, characters, and thematic elements.

Basic details of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

  • Title: Mexican Gothic.
  • Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
  • Published: June 30, 2020.
  • Publisher: Del Rey.
  • Length: 320 pages (Hardcover).
  • Language: English.
  • Genre: Horror, Mystery.
  • Setting: Mexico.
  • Content warnings: the book includes some sensitive topics, including sexual assault, cannibalism, emotional abuse, horror, and incest.

“Mexican Gothic” Plot Summary

set in 1950s Mexico, “Mexican Gothic” revolves around Noemi Taboada, a brave socialite, determined to help her cousin, Catalina. So, after receiving a distressing letter from her, Noemi ventures to the remote high place mansion. Inhabited by the mysterious Doyle family, the mansion discloses dark secrets of immortality achieved through unnerving rituals. As Noemi delve into unsettling mysteries of high place, she confronts a history of violence and madness in her efforts to save Catalina from looming supernatural threats.

The novel explores the themes of power, colonialism, and cultural clash between urban and rural communities. Also, it combines the elements of gothic horror, psychological suspense and cultural exploration. Moreover, the book provides an atmospheric and thought-provoking tale that creates a unique and captivating reading experience.

Main Characters of “Mexican Gothic”

  • Noemi Taboada: Noemi is a wealthy urban socialite from Mexico City who ventures to High Place to check on the welfare of her cousin.
  • Catalina Doyle: Catalina is Noemi’s cousin.
  • Howard Doyle: Howard Doyle is the patriarch of the Doyle family. He’s hundreds of years old; the fungus underneath High Place helped him achieve immortality through cannibalism, sacrifice, and slaughter.
  • Virgil Doyle: Virgil is Howard’s only son, and Catalina’s husband.
  • Francis Doyle: Francis is Howard’s nephew and Noemi’s love interest.
  • Florence Doyle: Florence is Howard’s niece, and Francis’s mother. She is the only female villain in the novel.
  • Ruth: Ruth is Howard’s niece. She died after shooting Howard, her fiancé, and her mother.
  • Agnes: Agnes is Howard’s first wife.
  • Dr. Camarillo: Julio Camarillo is the local physician.
  • Dr. Cummins: Arthur Cummins is the Doyle family’s personal doctor, and he has served them for decades.

Prevailing themes in “Mexican Gothic”

Silvia Moreno-Garcia adeptly develops different themes throughout the book, unraveling societal expectations, exploring the complexities of human emotions and highlighting the historical exploitation of resources and power. Let’s discuss the major themes defining the very essence of the book:

Sexism and female independence

The novel beautifully explores the defiance of gender norms through the character of Noemi Taboada. as she aspires to pursue the master’s degree instead of husband hunting, Noemi challenges societal expectation imposed on young women. So, her journey represents female independence that resists the constraints of outdated gender roles prevailing in her society.

Nature vs love

The novel explores Doyle’s’ belief in eugenics, a disgraced pseudoscience promoting selective breeding for imaginary genetic improvements. The idea centers on the belief that one’s nature is predetermined at birth. Consequently, this concept proves to be a clash between supposed nature and human emotions, especially in the matters of love and relationships.


Another interesting theme of “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the reflection of colonial power dynamics. So, Doyle’s’ quest for silver mining and mushroom harvesting highlights the historical exploitation of natural resources at the expense of the local population, emphasizing the impact of colonialism.

The eerie Pursuit of immortality

Last but not least, “Mexican Gothic” explores an uncanny chase of ever-lasting life. Where Howard Doyle get involved in chilling acts and unethical sacrifices to achieve an eternal life.

Writing style

Like always, Silvia’s writing style in “Mexican Gothic” is beautiful, rich, and immersive. It strikes the ideal balance between beauty and horror, capturing the very essence of gothic genre. Moreover, the descriptions are rich and scenes are vividly described through gorgeous metaphors. Also, Silvia adds a fresh, unnerving dimension to the story by using mold and mushrooms to symbolize decay.

Furthermore, the story, told from third person’s (Noemi’s) point of view, is very powerful. this perspective heightens the suspense, As Noemi slowly unravels the mysteries surrounding the high place. Thus, the slow build-up of terrifying events leads to a perfectly creepy environment that never loses its momentum. Additionally, the inclusion of nearly dreamlike flashbacks add depth to the story, intensifying horror and intrigue while offering glimpses into the past without spoiling revelations. Finally, Silvia writing style, with its dynamic character interactions, horror elements, tensions and perfect pace, presents a captivating read.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Review and evaluation

In “Mexican Gothic,” the writer expertly weaves a story that beautifully embraces and challenges traditional gothic tropes at the same time. Also, elegantly written and compulsively readable, the tale more than just a mere homage, it offers a multi-layered experience, addressing the issues of gender, race, colonialism, and wealth inequality. Moreover, embodying wit and cleverness, the protagonist, Noemi Taboada, provides a fascinating twist to gothic romance. Furthermore, with well-executed oddity that maintains suspense throughout the novel, the creepy factor is also worth noting. Last but not least, a delicate romance enriches the atmosphere without overwhelming the horror, providing an entertaining read.

However, just like all other stimulating books, “Mexican Gothic” is not completely free of minor drawbacks. While the story engages its readers with unexpected twists and turns, some problems arise from its slow-burning pace, especially in the middle section. Whereas revelations in the last section are seem as rushed, effecting the book’s dramatic tensions. Moreover, the characters form an interesting ensemble, though I noted occasional wordiness in the writing style. Furthermore, despite of greatly enjoying the story, I feel it could have been shorter, without unnecessary details and explanations. More than anything else, the absence of real Mexican settings disappoints me, as the mansion and characters are more British than Mexican. Finally, the book includes some very sensitive topics which could be a point of caution for some readers.

Final thoughts

To sum up, despite of few minor issues, “Mexican Gothic” presents a captivating narrative for lovers of horror and gothic genre with plenty of positive ratings throughout the world. Also, it had been nominated and won several awards including Locus Award for Best Horror Novel, British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel, Prix Aurora Award for Best Novel and many others. So, are you ready for this spine-tickling journey? Then read it now and immerse yourself in the world of horror, mystery and suspense. Happy eerie reading!

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