Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia #MexicanGothic @JoFletcherBooks @silviamg

Today my review is part of a book tour – the details of which can be found below along with the poster detailing all the bloggers taking part.

MexicanGothicMy TL:DR Five Word Review : ‘Open Your Eyes’: Read it.

She only went and did it again.  Silvia Moreno-Garcia is positively a wordsmith.  I sometimes feel she writes simply with me in mind and manages to conjure up a book that is full of all my, not so secret, loves.  Mexican Gothic is truly gothic horror at it’s finest.  There’s a fantastic set up where we get to meet our storyteller, a forward thinking and intelligent woman who is not averse to a little romantic thinking.  There’s the light touch of fairy tales intertwined with myth sprinkled throughout the pages and there’s the most gorgeously decadent horror story that brings to us a house in the style of Usher and a family with more secrets than you could shake a stick at.

Set in 1950s Mexico the story begins with an introduction to Noemi.  Noemi is our central character and is very well imagined.  Beautiful, wealthy and a tad spoilt, although certainly not enough to make her unlikable, Noemi is no shrinking violet.  She’s used to the power that her family name brings and the doors it opens and this gives her a confidence that belies her age.  Not content to settle for a suitable marriage Noemi wants to go to University, she wants adventure and so when her father receives a disturbing letter from a recently married cousin Noemi is eager to make the journey and find the root of the problem.  So, suitcases in hand, lipstick in purse, and heels suitably high she sets off across the country to see her cousin and solve the mystery of her recent illness.

To be fair to other readers I’m not going to elaborate further on the plot.  Wild horses couldn’t drag any spoilers from between the lines of this review.  You’ll have to pick up Mexican Gothic yourself to discover it’s hidden secrets.

So, why did I love this?

Firstly, the writing.  This is not a new-to-me author.  I’ve already read and loved a number of her books including the rather brilliant Certain Dark Things, which I never miss an opportunity to wax lyrical about, and I have to say her writing is polished and persuasive.  I swear that this author could turn her hand to any genre and pull it off with ease.  Here she spins a tale that gradually pulls you in.  A lonely house atop a mountain, a family with a dark history and an overall sense of growing dread as a light is slowly shone into the darkest corners to reveal the horrors lurking there.

The main character Noemi is a wonderful creation.  She has a level of intelligence that keeps her thought processes and actions intriguing.  She has been brought up with privilege and this gives her a strength and confidence that would otherwise lack credibility and she’s not afraid to stand up for herself or take action.  Yes, Noemi could be described as vain, but, again, her vanity is never overtly irritating, more that she gives free rein to her desire to dress stylishly and is aware of the effect she has on others. Of course, this beauty can also attract the wrong sort of attention, as Noemi is about to find out.

The story itself reminded me of my love of so many gothic stories whilst at the same time standing on it’s own two feet.  It provoked thoughts of The Haunting of Hill House, Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, The House of Usher to name but a few.  The house itself is like a character.  Perched atop the mountains, High Place is aptly named, chilling, dilapidated and suitably eerie.  It has its own cemetery which hosts the many workers who once worked in the, now abandoned, family silver mine and a family mausoleum.  A thick mist frequently shrouds the house and grounds making it easy to become disorientated and the interior is poorly lit and outdated, not to mention damp and creepily quiet.

As the tension mounts the horrors and family history are revealed – and they’re not pretty.  Here is a family whose wealth and status suffered as a result of revolution but who are stuck in the past like a needle in the groove of a record.  They’re determined to regain the power and wealth of a bygone era and not above marrying into money – and yet this is the least of their transgressions.

In terms of criticisms.  I have very little to mention except maybe a slight disjoint as the pace increased, a feeling that the last quarter of the book was a little more rushed than the rest of the story but it wasn’t a feeling that lingered as I was quickly chasing the words on the page.

Now, as it is I’m struggling to say too much more without revealing spoilers that could ruin the pleasure of discovering firsthand the secrets of this story.  I can warn you that this is gothic horror, it doesn’t shrink away from some cringe inducing scenes and it ventures into an almost hypnotic, psychedelic phase of storytelling as events escalate so be prepared to read things that could make you flinch.  As it is I have to admit that I love the way the author can make me feel such a rush of emotions.  I really felt for the main character as she went from one awful extreme to the next and whilst I could second guess some of the events before they took place I was never sure what the final outcome would be.

I have no hesitation in recommending Mexican gothic.  It was positively gripping, beautifully written, packed with atmosphere and delivered another great read by an author that certainly knows how to push all my buttons.

My rating is 4.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above opinions are my own.

Finally, today’s post is part of the blog tour organised for Mexican Gothic.  Below are the details of the other blogs taking part so please give them a visit and check out their thoughts and feelings too.

Mexican Gothic_Twitter cards_Blog

 

#SPFBO Saturday

Artboard 1

Today I’m combining two posts – my Cover Love (3) post that I usually post on Friday and my Saturday Snapshot where I post an excerpt from one of the forthcoming SPFBO books.  Basically I was a little too preoccupied yesterday to do anything so I’m squishing the two together here today so that I don’t lose track of things.

So, firstly, I’m highlighting three covers from amongst my own collection of books this week – take a look and see what you think. In the interests of keeping this post to a reasonable length I’ve not added the descriptions here but I have linked to the Goodreads and Amazon pages so you can check them out quite easily:

Rise of the Forgotten Sun (The Sun and the Raven #1) by Jon Monson

 

Emma and the Minotaur (World of Light, #1) by Jon Herrera

 

Burn (Desert Deities, #1) by G. E. Hathaway

Do you have a favourite?

 

Secondly, my sample today, kindly provided by the author, to shine a light on his SPFBO entry, is The Child of Silence (The Burning Orbit Book 1) by Joseph O. Doran – this is a tiny teaser, I’ve also provided the description, links and author information below.  Enjoy:

 

** Excerpt **

 

I am called Aiata dal’Pelferta. On the day I entered the world, I sustained massive damage to my brain. In a society where beauty is paramount, I have a weak, poorly-formed body that I can hardly move. Amongst a people where one’s voice grants incredible power, I cannot speak save for random sounds. For most of my life, those who knew me either resented my existence or liked to pretend I did not exist at all.

And worst of all, I was born fourth in line to the throne.

 

** Ends **

 

Further details for The Child of Silence:

ChildofsilenceYou’ve never met a hero like this before.

Born severely disabled, Aiata dal’Pelferta has spent her life despised by her own people simply for who she is. Worse still, she is the youngest daughter of the Empress, making her an Imperial embarrassment. Unable to talk, move or let anyone know she is a thinking, feeling person, she spends her days observing – and learning – from those around her.

Everything changes when she finally discovers a way to communicate and is plunged into the dangers of the Imperial court. With the magic of Songthrust, Aiata’s people can force others to their will, however they are ill-prepared for a popular revolt within their own borders – a revolt that Aiata is dragged into. Abused by her family and surrounded by danger, Aiata will learn that her intellect – not her magic – is her greatest asset, as she fights to save her home from the ravages of civil war.

Yet while all eyes are on the war at home, a far greater threat looms in the dark of the night sky.

Author info

 

Finally, I’ve made very good progress on my first batch of books and my update will follow very soon. Unfortunately this will involve cuts – which is my least favourite part of this first stage of the competition – but it is also a necessary part so I wanted to raise this in advance.

 

Friday Face Off : Windows to the Soul

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

Windows – windows to the soul?

So, in sticking with my desire to go with recent reads I’ve gone with a great read from a favourite author: Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough.  I’m interpreting windows – as ‘eyes’ which are sometimes called windows to the soul – you could also literally choose a book with a window or windows.  Hopefully everyone found this week’s theme relatively easy.  Not a lot of covers, in fact, okay, two, but so very different.  Take a look:

I like both covers for different reasons but my favourite:

Deadtoher

I mean, the second cover is great, deceptive even.  The woman in the pool, immediately gives off a summer vibe beach read but then the title with the blood red gives a different feeling altogether.   But this cover is classy.  You might not at first glance miss the person reflected in the glasses so that’s just an additional extra.  But there’s something very cold and clipped and perfectly manicured about this and for some reason it gives me the chills.

So, which is your favourite?

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.

Next week – Tentacles – ‘The sea brought you.  The sea shall have you back’

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

2019

3rd July – Tentacles – ‘The sea brought you.  The sea shall have you back’

10th July – Tunnel – ‘At the end of every light, is a tunnel of darkness.’

17th July – holding an object – just as it seems

24th July – Framed – more meaning than one.  A cover with a frame, a picture within a cover or a murder mystery set up??

31st July – White – a cover that is predominantly white

7th August – Action – a cover that depicts action of some sort

14th August – Glasses or spectacles – “One could mention many lovable traits in Smee. For instance, after killing, it was his spectacles he wiped instead of his weapon.”

21st August – Potions –  hubble bubble

28th August – Dark road – ‘the road goes ever on and on’

4th September – Cold and crisp – any cover that gives you winter vibes

11th September – A cover with a pattern

18th September – Minimalistic and lacking clutter

25th September – A very busy cover full to bursting with detail

2nd October – A standout font

9th October – Mist/fog – “A thin grey fog hung over the city, and the streets were very cold; for summer was in England.”

16th October – Spider web – “Farewell, Aragog, king of the arachnids, whose long and faithful friendship those who knew you would never forget!

23th October – Ripped/torn – interpret it as you wish

30th October – Forest/jungle – ‘None of the Jungle People like being disturbed.’

6th November – Planets – “You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.”

13th November – Bright – ‘The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades’.

20th November – Words only – “Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”

27th November – Modern sci fi

4th December –  Fae – or fairy??

11th December – Lake – the mysterious lake

18th December – Highly Stylised

25th December- Freebie – or day off.

The Graves of Whitechapel by Claire Evans

GravesofThe Graves of Whitechapel is a compelling exploration of a grimy, dark and crime infested Victorian Whitechapel.  A murder mystery at its core it also looks at the different shades of morality that people experience. This book is relentlessly dark, I kid you not.  This is a veritable black hole of despair and desperation but at the same time it’s hopelessly addictive and so very atmospheric.  I was literally transported back in time and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this classic-feeling murder mystery.

Five years ago Cage Lackmann successfully defended his client, Moses Pickering, of a murder charge.  Moses walked free and Cage continued with his infamous career.  Known as the Poet, he’s not averse to waxing lyrical in the courtroom as he defends the ne’er do wells of London’s criminal underbelly.  Unfortunately, that case is about to come back and bite him hard on the unmentionable.  An identical murder to the one Moses was originally accused of has occurred and whilst this could be a copycat the very fact that Moses has disappeared really doesn’t bode well.  Things look very bad for Cage.  His career could be over, he has many debts and is down to his last decent bottle of claret.  He needs to find Moses and he also needs to find the killer.

I’m not going to elaborate further on the plot but instead discuss what worked so well for me with this one.

Firstly, the style.  It’s wonderfully evocative and has the feel of a classic but with a more modern and easy to access style of writing.  The attention to detail was excellent and the pacing was almost, after a brief spell finding its feet, frenetic.

Secondly, the setting.  Victorian London, without doubt, makes the perfect setting for this style of story.  Narrow this to Whitechapel during perhaps one of it’s most illicit and salacious periods and you’re really ticking boxes. This is positively Dickensian (without the overabundant wordiness).  Poverty, filth, dark alleys, houses of ill repute, seedy landlords and their dilapidated properties, criminal bosses and down at heel types – it’s all here.

Thirdly, the characters.  There’s such a lot going on here.  There’s the murders of course which make for compelling enough reading on their own when, like me, you’re desperate to unravel the clues.  But, more than the plot there are the characters.  They’re all so morally dubious.  Cage for example.  He has secrets.  He’s retained by a criminal boss,  There’s a lot more on his mind than murder and he’s the sort of character you kind of want to shake.  Or slap.  Or both.  His family history is also painted in shades of grey with his glamorous yet flighty mother who seemed to sell him out as a young child.  We have the beleaguered detective, angry and aptly named Cross – he’s so determined to catch someone that whether he catches the murderer or not seems incidental.  And there are a number of other characters, equally painted in shades of grey that help to maintain the sense of mystery.

The plot itself runs around like a headless chicken.  Sometimes I was baffled but I was certainly never bored.  Cage is like a maniac charging between destinations, picking up clues and red herrings as though there’s no tomorrow.  He goes on some wild goose chases.  He gets into bother.  He uncovers some truths, particularly about people and the fact that sometimes being different isn’t something to be feared.

In terms of criticisms.  Nothing much to be honest.  The story takes a little time to find it’s feet but to be fair I think this was necessary.  It helped to give a feel for the characters and provide some backstory and I think everything here was essential in helping the mystery unfold in a way that was compelling.  Plus, there was still these tantilising little snippets that kept you glued.  In fact, if time was no issue, and books weren’t multiplying like rampant bunnies around the place, I would love to read this again and follow the trail of clues once more to see what I missed.  As it is, those bunnies books won’t read themselves now will they?

In conclusion, this was a wonderfully atmospheric and compelling historical murder mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I’d say, if Cage and Cross were to make a reappearance I wouldn’t hesitate to read more, although that’s just purely wishing as there is no indication that this is a series.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Nesting by C.J. Cooke

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Nesting by C.J. Cooke

TheNesting2It was like something out of a fairytale…

The grieving widower.
The motherless daughters.
A beautiful house in the woods.
And a nanny come to save the day.

So what if Lexi isn’t telling the truth about who she is? Escaping to the remote snows of Norway was her lifeline. And all she wanted was to be a part of their lives.

But soon, isolated in that cold, creaking house in the middle of ancient, whispering woods, Lexi’s fairytale starts to turn into a nightmare.

With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi’s fears are deepening. Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care.

But protect them from what?

Expected publication : October 2020

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