So my first assumption about Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic was that the title was somehow a play on that pitchfork-guy painting. And maybe it is, it occurs to me I don’t know much about that painting. But what became clear as the young female protagonist went off to a creepy house in the remote countryside is that oh yeah, Gothic horror, right, that’s what we’re doing here.
And as horror, it is genuinely creepy. The house is weird in ways that have kind of the feeling of Lovecraftian fiction without being that super-familiar Lovecraft stuff directly. It’s all the kind of unsettling “at the edges of perception” stuff where things are just off-kilter enough to feel disquieting.
That’s a solid achievement in its own right. But what’s more impressive is that once you find out what’s going on, it’s still creepy. Usually with horror novels, once the big reveals have been made, the book switches modes—it becomes a straight-up action thing where the hero now has to fight their way clear, or (as with The Twisted Ones and a lot of Lovecraft’s stories) it turns into an SF or fantasy story. But here, the book stays creepy and horrifying and disquieting even once everything’s come into the open.
This fantasy-horror genre isn’t really a particular favorite of mine, but this is an exceptionally well-done example of the genre, and I liked it a lot. Between this and the completely different but also excellent Gods of Jade and Shadow, Moreno-Garcia’s made my must-read list for both the quality of her work and the range of it. Highly recommended.