Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Book review đź’€đź—ťď¸Ź

Hello There

A few months ago, I stumbled upon Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia on Goodreads and it instantly caught my eye: a stunning cover? gothic atmosphere? 1951 Mexico? I’m in. I have to admit I was a little bit worried about the horror part, as I’m easily spooked, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone a bit, so.

The most I ever did in terms of horror was watching Crimson Peak with my best friend on Halloween last year and we were both so terrified that we took turns watching the movie and explained the other what was going on during all the spooky scenes (in conclusion: we are babies).

So… did Mexican Gothic terrify me? Did I enjoy it? Let’s see!

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Published on June 30th 2020 by Del Rey

Genres: gothic, horror, historical fiction

Summary: An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic artistocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets…

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

While Noemí, a glamorous debutante, is an unlikely rescuer, she’s also tough and smart. She faces the English family and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable house is the family’s youngest son: he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past, for there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

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MY THOUGHTS ON MEXICAN GOTHIC

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Mexican Gothic was my very first book by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and it certainly won’t be my last! While horror is a genre that I don’t usually reach from, I thought Silvia Moreno-Garcia did a good job at it and yes… I got terrified at some point.

From the moment NoemĂ­ arrived to High Place, the isolated mansion of an English family, I was so engrossed by this novel: it had such a deliciously gothic atmosphere and I couldn’t get enough out of it. Mexican Gothic is mainly set in High Place and its surroundings, the house coming more and more alive with every page as NoemĂ­ is exploring it, which made me almost feel the house’s walls closing up on me. Alongside NoemĂ­, I felt like I couldn’t get out of the house and as I read the most chilling chapters at night, I really felt like I was there.

#crimson peak from Mr.&Mrs. Sharpe
Did I picture High Place just like Crimson Peak because it’s one of the creepiest mansions I know? Absolutely.   gif credit: Mr.&Mrs. Sharpe on Tumblr

Mexican Gothic is rather a slow-paced read, so getting through it might be a bit of a struggle for some readers, but I thought it was definitely worth it. Sure, the first half of the book could be a bit repetitive at times, considering both the main character and the reader had to be kept in the dark as they’re trying to figure out what is going on, but I think it did a really good job at setting up the scene.

I really enjoyed where the plot went in terms of reveals in the second half: it took turns I wasn’t expecting, which I loved, and it became really gross at some point, which wasn’t as much fun for me reading at night, but was suited to a horror novel I imagine (see trigger warnings at the end of my review). I couldn’t stop reading during the last hundred pages or so: still, I have to admit that it wrapped up a little quickly for me, but I really enjoyed that plot overall.

I adored Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s writing; I think that descriptions are definitely her strong suit: from describing NoemĂ­’s outfits (she’s a socialite, so of course she has to be best-dressed for everything) to describing a creepy mansion and its surroundings, her writing was so vivid that I could picture very clearly everything that was happening, which doesn’t happen very often for me. Because of that, I even got spooked during some of the chapters taking place in the dark, as I was reading at night, and I was so engrossed in the book (I feel like I’m easily scared, but it rarely happens when I’m reading)! Honestly, I lived for every gothic element this book gave me.

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Me, reading the spooky chapters of Mexican Gothic.

I wasn’t completely convinced by the characters: they were a bit flat for me, as most of them were pretty stereotypical, though Silvia Moreno-Garcia did a great job at making me loathe the family, which was obviously the point. I could never quite bring myself to love NoemĂ­, because I don’t think she had that much character development throughout the course of the novel. Moreover, I really disliked that the book had a very unnecessary romance towards the end: the last chapters would have had more of an impact on me without it. To be honest, I’d rather have the book focus on NoemĂ­ and her cousin’s relationship, as she went to High Place to rescue her in the first place.

Overall, I really enjoyed Mexican Gothic: it had an amazing gothic atmosphere and it spooked me during some chapters, plus the plot took turns I didn’t expect. I adored Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s writing when it comes to description, but I wasn’t as convinced by her characters and even less by the romance. I usually don’t read horror novels, so I don’t know anything about the genre, but I went into this without expectations and really enjoyed the experience. I’m really curious to read more of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s works now!

For those interested, Silvia Moreno-Garcia did a great interview on Goodreads for Mexican Gothic.

⚠️ highlight to see the trigger warnings for this book  [sexual assault, mentions of r*pe and suicide, murder, cannibalism, miscarriage, gore]

3-5-stars

Have you ever read horror books? Are you planning to read this book? Have you read anything by Silvia Moreno-Garcia? lots of love

The Confession by Jessie Burton | Book review

Hello There

Another Sunday, another book review. It’s currently quite gloomy outside and I’m drinking coffee while writing this post, so truly, it is the perfect time to blog. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately, but I recently finished The Confession by Jessie Burton, which I was lucky enough to get an e-ARC of, so I thought I’d share my review of it with you all today!

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The Confession by Jessie Burton

Published on September 19th by Picador

Summary: The sensational new novel from the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse.

One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.

Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession . . .

From the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse, this is a luminous, powerful and deeply moving novel about secrets and storytelling, motherhood and friendship, and how we lose and find ourselves.

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MY THOUGHTS ON THE CONFESSION

I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All quotes used in this review may have changed upon publication.

You’re all so brilliant, and you’ve got so much going for you. And if you haven’t got to where you wanted to get by the time you’re twenty-five, you should probably thank your lucky stars. Seriously. Because if getting there is hard, holding on to your dream is possibly even harder. Nothing ever stays the same.

— Jessie Burton, The Confession, p. 345.

When I got approved for this e-ARC, I was absolutely thrilled, because I adored the author’s previous novel, The Muse, and I was so looking forward to reading more of her words.

The Confession is a historical fiction novel built on one of my favourite tropes of that genre: alternating between points of view from different eras, which will eventually come together to resolve a mystery, so I loved its storyline. It is a compelling narrative about family, love, loss, relationships, motherhood and embracing who you are, which I really enjoyed. Be warned that there is a trigger warning for abortion in this book, so be careful if it’s something that triggers you.

I know historical fiction can be a bit daunting for some readers, as it means going to a different time and place, it can be complicated to read, but I feel like historically speaking, The Confession was easy to get through. The historical setting is immersive and easy to picture, as it was set in 1980s Hollywood, which doesn’t feel that far away, so it could appeal to readers who aren’t used to reading historical fiction.

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The Confession is mainly about three women: Elise, Connie and Rose, and their paths through life, which I really enjoyed reading about, though the characters weren’t always likeable. On one hand, my favourite to read about was Rose, a 35 years old woman, whose storyline was set in 2017. Her story was about self-discovery, as she is aching to know the truth about her mom who left her when she was littl, since she believes it will fill a void inside her. She was a relatable character and I could see a lot of myself in her, as she hadn’t figured herself out just yet.

On another hand, the book followed Elise, whose storyline was set in the 1980s, and I really didn’t like her, but was still curious about her story. While she was really flawed and I felt like her characterization wasn’t always as in-depth as Rose’s, the author managed to keep me interested in her story and secrets. To be honest, I didn’t always get her, I don’t really know what drove her nor what she wanted in life, so that was a shame.

Last but not least, this novel was about Constance, a writer whose book is about to be adapted into a movie in L.A. in the 1980s and a secluded writer in 2017. Connie wasn’t a very likeable character either, she was cold and heartless at times, but she was so authentic and she shone through way more than Elise did. I also adored reading about her as she was older, as well as reading about her writing.the-confession-aesthetic

The Confession‘s main romance is about Elise and Connie, which I loved reading about, though they definitely didn’t have an healthy relationship. I loved that it was about two women falling in love with each other in the 1980s, but it wasn’t about them realizing they loved women, nor coming out. They already knew they were queer, it wasn’t made a big deal and it went from there. I love reading about coming out stories, they’re so important, but love stories about queer people without this storyline are really important as well.

Just like in The Muse, Jessie Burton’s writing style was engaging and beautiful, making me highlight so many quotes and always being excited to get back to it. Every time I picked up The Confession, I couldn’t stop reading it, especially in the second half, when we were starting to get answers and so many chapters ended on cliffhangers. The novel finished on an open-ending, which I thought was fitting to the story, though I felt like the last chapter was unnecessary, as I don’t think it added much to the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed this, though not as much as Jessie Burton’s previous novel, The Muse. Most of the characters feel authentic and while they aren’t always likeable, the author kept me interested in them. I really enjoyed this story overall and I’m looking forward to reading more of Jessie Burton’s works in the future.3-5-stars.jpgAre you planning on reading this book? Have you read Jessie Burton’s other works?lots of love

 

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave | Book review

Hello There

As I am beyond excited for autumn and Halloween, I started on my Halloween reading… In August. One of the books I was eyeing the most for Halloween was The Deathless Girls, which is a f/f reimagining of the brides of Dracula. I was lucky enough to be approved for an e-ARC of it and read it as soon as I could (I was so excited!). It’s coming out next week in the UK, so I thought I’d share my review of it with you all today!

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The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Published on September 19th 2019 by Orion Children’s Books

Summary:  Gothic, intoxicating, feminist and romantic – this is the breathtakingly imagined untold story of the brides of Dracula, by bestselling author Kiran Millwood Hargrave in her much-anticipated YA debut.

They say the thirst of blood is like a madness – they must sate it. Even with their own kin.

On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate…

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MY THOUGHTS ON THE DEATHLESS GIRLS

I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Deathless Girls sounded like such a promising read, perfect for autumn: who wouldn’t want to read a f/f reimagining of Dracula, which gives a voice to the voiceless? In Dracula, it is mentioned that the vampire has three brides, two dark, one fair. The Deathless Girls is the story of two of them.

From the first few words, The Deathless Girls is a brutal story and doesn’t shy away from the realities of history. It follows Lil and her twin sister Kizzy, which see their family and community slaughtered and burned to the ground on the eve of their seventeenth birthday, before they are enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, ruler of the land. They are then taken away to his castle, where they become serving girls and eventually cross paths with Dracula.

As expected, this novel is full of gothic elements and I really enjoyed reading about them. It goes from the darkness in humans’ hearts, which can be filled with hate and prejudice without any reason, to the more supernatural gothic elements, exploring the myth of the vampire. All in all, the setting was believable and was great for a book you’d read during autumn or near Halloween.

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At its core, The Deathless Girls is a character-driven story, but I unfortunately didn’t connect much with the main character, Lil. I liked reading about her enough, but it never went beyond that, which is a shame. I was also really looking forward to reading about her relationship with her twin sister Kizzy, but their relationship was more told than showed, so I couldn’t understand the love they had for each other. Speaking of Kizzy, I didn’t like that she was depicted as the almost perfect, always right, almost superior to everyone else,prettier twin that everyone has to follow! It was really clichĂ© and didn’t help me to connect with the characters either.

I have to be honest though, as this book is about the brides of Dracula, I had huge expectations on how the author would deal with the vampire myth. I think she did a great job… for the little bits we got. I expected most of the book to focus on the vampire myth and to pick up on Dracula’s story soon enough, but it wasn’t the case. The Deathless Girls is a slow-paced book and sure, it focuses on the backstory of two of Dracula’s brides, but you have to wait about two thirds of the way through before the vampires are mentioned. That being said, the last hundred pages of the book were amazing, as they were gripping and finally focused on the myth of the vampire. It was chilling and exactly what I expected from this book, but I’d have liked to read about that before.

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The Deathless Girls is much more of a backstory book that doesn’t involve vampires that much, and while I didn’t expect that, there are some parts of that I enjoyed. Indeed, Lil and Kizzy came from a traveller community, I really liked how it was explored. I find it to be a very interesting topic, as it is rarely touched upon and the author discussed the prejudice people from settled communities can have towards the traveller ones. The novel also mentions folklore of the travelling communities, which was great to read about, but I’d have liked to know more about that. I understand that in part, as the girls are ripped away from their homes and in a way of their identity, but it’s only a very small part of the story when you consider the summary, and that was a shame for me.

To be honest, most of the book felt abrupt and rushed to me. I found the romance really sweet and I really liked Mira, but would have liked more build-up for some scenes to make it believable. Like I said, the vampire elements come into play only in the last third of the book, and so do The Deathless Girls themselves. This novel felt like such an interesting idea, but I didn’t really like its execution: I found the final decision of the main character to be barely explained and anticlimactic, plus the final bride of Dracula was barely mentioned in the epilogue, getting two lines and not even a real name, which I found a bit ironic.

Overall, I liked this book, but am a little frustrated. I wish this book had been longer, so it had gotten more build-up, because it ended up being underwhelming. This story was such a great idea, had a diverse cast of characters, but I felt like everything was rushed to go to the end, but because of that, I didn’t have time to get invested into the characters, the story or what was at stake for them. Still, I think readers will enjoy it more than I did and that it works well as a Halloween read.

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Are you planning on reading this book or have you read it already? Do you have recommendations for books with vampires?

lots of love