Summary Moreno-Garcia: “Mexican Gothic”

What we enjoyed about the book:

  • Well-crafted horror story
  • Works very well story-wise
  • Well written
  • “I absolutely loved reading it”
  • Employs stereotypical Gothic elements but changes them slightly
  • Colonial twist very smart and well done
  • Standard Gothic structure enjoyable, but with a different take on many levels: main character investigative woman, not a damsel in distress
  • Hints at the original, older Gothic novels but changed them
  • Protagonist really cool, a lot of agency and voice
  • Setting in Mexico brilliant
  • Scary but not too scary
  • Writing style atmospheric, no trouble picturing setting or characters
  • Lovecraftian Gothic/horror elements
  • Mushrooms are “delightfully eldritch” and funny
  • Loads of foreshadowing
  • Great pacing
  • Fun to read
  • Mexican setting used to address eugenics and racism, very smart
  • Non-European setting great
  • Main Protagonist great! Female character in a horror story: intellectual, has her own agenda, empathetic, rational aspect to her personality à refreshing à especially for a Gothic heroine à adult way of dealing with the horror
  • Modernism and being a modern woman in Mexico very interesting
  • Modern Gothic, set in the 1950s à dynamic with Francis cool, she is way more confident, teasing fun, she challenges him
  • Vanity of her annoying at first, but main character grew on us; she is very self-confident, not afraid of the men, has flaws and is aware of them, self-reflective of personality and behaviour, she gets what she wants to get, not one dimensional at all, very well written, contributed to the overall story very much; she is also always doing stuff à she is acting
  • Main protagonist uses her flaws as well, her body and vanity as a weapon
  • Paranormal / Gothic elements cool
  • She ignores red flags because she cannot leave her cousin à ulterior motive
  • Her intellectual curiosity makes her susceptible to the horror à twist on modern Gothic heroes who are also very much into science (Lovecraft), anthropology background
  • Mansion cool setting

What we discussed:

  • Quite conventional story-wise, classic Gothic characters, not that original à was intentional perhaps? Enjoying the classic Gothic elements
  • Relationship with Francis with a bit weird, shallow
  • Main protagonist bratty at times and annoying, supposed to be 22 – felt younger
  • Forced romance at the end annoying
  • Horror can easily be recognised from the beginning
  • “Actually there isn’t that much that I disliked”
  • Noemie a bit gullible, soooo many red flags!
  • Plot pretty predictable à we usually prefer plots with more twists, but it worked!
  • Not as horror-y as expected
  • Pacing off sometimes: slow beginning, end rushed (one chapter!)
  • Explanation with the mushrooms a bit absurd: “I would have preferred a more ghost-y direction”
  • Nightmares/”the gloom” made some parts absurd / scary à but reader knew it was a nightmare à very sexual parts / assault / rape parts hard to read à “that even gave me nightmares” à ironic
  • Different ending, more original, would’ve been more interesting
  • Mushroom twist disappointing, ending was “exciting to read again”
  • Sexual connection most scary part of the novel, difficult to know whether it’s real or only in her head
  • Catalina “never does anything” 😀 à Gothic stereotype, damsel, disappointing
  • Intrusive dreams very scary

Rating the book:

  • 7.5/10 mushrooms 😀 😀 😀 “entertaining horror story and those are hard to create”, not 10/10 mushrooms because of conventional things + minor flaws, “entertaining”
  • 4/5 mushrooms: entertaining, slow beginning, mushroom twist not convincing
  • 3.5/5 “I enjoyed it and it grabbed my attention”, “wanted to keep reading”, beginning very slow
  • 4/5 mushrooms because “it creeped me out”, good for spooky season, bit predictable
  • 4/5 “really enjoyed reading it”, beginning slow, time for everything to unfold and to get into it
  • 4/5 “really enjoyed it”
  • 5/5 colonial setting great, mansion does not let her leave, scary!

Other books we talked about:

  • “The Binding” by Bridget Collins: “really enjoyed it”, agreed with previous BSFG member thoughts: confusing at the beginning, story very enjoyable
  • “A Master of Djinn” by P. Djèlí Clark: police procedure but with magic, fun, set in Cairo in 1912, connected actual history + magic very well, cool main character, deals with feminism + role of women in Egyptian at the time, queer characters à read the novellas first
  • “Boyfriend Material” by Alexis Hall: m/m romance set in London, cute
  • “Lonely Hearts Hotel” by Heather O’Neil: great depression, life stories, sad at times, heavy, very enjoyable
  • “Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine” by Gail Honeyman: protagonist lives in Glasgow, loneliness, learning about the past, touching, “love it with everything that I am”
  • “Hyperion” by Dan Simmons: Canterbury Tales as Sci-Fi, pilgrims telling their stories, great world-building
  • “Under the Whispering Door” by TJ Klune: wholesome, queer, very intimate take on death and dying and turning one’s life around
  • “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman: “favourite Neil Gaiman book”, girl moves into a new house, encounters mysterious, creepy things and has to save her parents; “I had nightmares from reading it” as a child, “not as creepy any more”
  • Sequel to “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe”: “read it in one sitting and I loved it”
  • New Sanderson novella: recommendable
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