Blog Tour: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Hello fellow readers! Today on the blog, is my review for the blog tour of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia!

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.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, 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 abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, 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.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

I pray I’ll see you again. You must come for me, Noemí. You have to save me.

******Trigger warnings for the following: Racism, rape, body horror, cannibalism, incest, eugenics, white supremacy, death of a parent and siblings and miscarriage.

I have never read the author before and this was honestly such a good introduction to her work. This is an intense creepy story that never fails to make your skin crawl or wonder what is going in with this damn house. The constant claustrophobia and anger felt by both the protagonist and the reader certainly stay with you off the page.

Its hard not to feel that you are locked in the crumbling mansion that is High Place. Long gone is the grandeur of Manderley and all that is left is the rotting, moldy remnants of an English family home. I am a big fan of house as character tropes and while I never felt the house was it’s own character, I definitely felt the sense that it wouldn’t let me go. From the silver laden cabinets to the enforced silence of dinner times it’s clear this house is insanely corrupt. The author went straight to the point, not once taking the attention away from High House or it’s dreary residents. For what we see of even the local town, you never spend long enough there to escape the house and that made this all the more creepy.

While investigating this weird family and this even weirder house, it’s hard not to connect with the characters or even have an emotional reaction to them. I loved Noemí right from the start. She never backs down and refuses to settle for anything less. While she can be both capricious and shallow it only strives to enforce her wonderful character more. She is pure steel with a strong sense of family, she never fails to try and challenge anyone who either offends her or stands in her way. She is the first to call out the patriarch, Howard, on his clear racism and discussion of eugenics.

Upon meeting Virgil and his family, the whole story gets even creepier I think. Is there anything creepier than racism, old English attitudes and the ideas of a superior race? I truly didn’t think this would have such relevant themes to the current climate but Virgil and his Usher style folks are a bignred flag from the get go. Except Francis. He must be kept safe at all costs.

Now I will say this isn’t going to be a nail biting read with moment after moment of shocking horror. What this truly is a gothic tale taken right out of the classics and is set in 1950s Mexico with a very unsettling story. There are some genuinely disgusting moments in this story and it didn’t help that one of the more fungal aspects of the house, is something I have a bit of an aversion to already so my reaction was a lot more visceral. There are some moments of body horror too which I was not expecting when the plot took a certain turn but it definitely added to the building tension and worked in the authors favour.

If you are a fan of creepy stories or gothic narratives or even want a story that is a welcome and refreshing take on both of these, then this is definitely for you. I read this in a day which is testament to how hard it is to put down as well.

Thank you to both Netgalley and Jo Fletcher Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for a review. Thank you also for having me on this blog tour!

Mexican Gothic is published today the 30th of June!

Review: Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

Believe it. That was the way. Never stop believing. Fool the eye, fool the brain.

Welcome back to the Discworld Project. Prepare yourself for the new marvel of the Disc! Lights! Imps! Red carpets and banged grains. Today fellow readers, in the town of Holy Wood, film has come to the Disc.

The alchemists of the Discworld have discovered the magic of the silver screen. But what is the dark secret of Holy Wood hill?

It’s up to Victor Tugelbend (‘Can’t sing. Can’t dance. Can handle a sword a little’) and Theda Withel (‘I come from a little town you’ve probably never heard of’) to find out…

This was a surprising turn for the series that resulted in a fun story while also being very enjoyable. This is book 10 in the series publishing continuity and continues to add more characters to the world but is definitely better at connecting the ones we have already met.

I think the main reason I enjoyed this was the weird unusual thread of the story. It follows the usual Discworld formula in places, being based in Ankh Morpork and the introduction of some new characters being pulled into some ridiculous amount of mayhem usually linked to something magical or otherworldly. This one, felt a little the story was far more solid and that the world is better established in this book. I still can’t be quite sure if that is due to the fact that I am invested in the series now but something felt unusual.

In case you didn’t guess from the synopsis and my witty intro (ha), this sees the introduction of film to the Discworld and the disasters that would come from that. Something I really loved was that the way the alchemists develop how to make ‘clicks’ is a direct call back to The Colour of Magic. I know this is something small but I have often wondered about technology in Discworld and seeing it again is fun. The equivalent of popcorn is named appropriately too.

I think as well this is the first book where I felt the wealth of characters was explored really well. We don’t just get to see the witches, or just get to see the wizards. Holy Wood being what it is draws Trolls, talking dogs and would be wizards like our main character Victor. There is also the eventual return of a race of characters we have seen before towards the end, and of course the always welcome return of Death, the Librarian and a hilarious plot involving the wizards at the university.

I do think that Victor was a little weak, especially alongside Ginger and Throat. Seeing Throat reappear in a more vital role in the plot was brilliant and felt true to his constantly changing nature, but I still felt Victor was left a little underdeveloped compared to other main characters I’ve met so far. Gaspode the Wonder Dog is a true standout though.

I did still really enjoy this, I flew through it which is always great for immersion with a story like this and it is always a great experience reading any Pratchett book. The next book will be Reaper Man so that is one I am looking forward to. Happy reading folks!

★★★★/5

Sourcery- Terry Pratchett Review

‘ Rincewind rather enjoyed times like this. They convinced him that he wasn’t mad because, if he was mad, that left no word at all to describe some of the people he met.’

Welcome back to my holiday on The Disc! I am very sorry for the lack of updates to the Discworld Project. It has been busy down here on the Hub and boy is it good to be back at the Unseen University with the smell of the Ankh. Oh wait, is that smell you?

This is the fifth book in the publication order of the Discworld novels. This is the third novel following the failed wizard, Rincewind and the happenings at the Unseen University. The unthinkable has happened. A wizard, an eighth son of an eighth son, has had another son. His eighth son. He cannot be a wizard. He is a Sourcerer. And he is coming to the university. Do I want to be left alone? Yes. Do I want a sentient trunk that follows me on many legs and eats crisps?Definitely.

The wit as always within Pratchett’s writing is consistently satirical without being pompous. As often quoted by Neil Gaiman when asked about Pratchett, the opposite of funny isn’t serious. It’s just something not being funny. While Discworld relies heavily on humor for its tone and consistence it never fails to be intimate and heartwarming. I honestly needed to read this book at this very moment in time to help make my current situation more bearable.

I listened to this on audio and it was narrated than none other than Baldrick himself, Tony Robinson of Time Team and Blackadder fame. I have often said that the only voice I hear for Rincewind is that of Eric Idle but now it will always be Robinson. Not only does he voice Rincewind to perfection he manages the cast of characters with a fantastic flourish and each is distinct from the other.

In this adventure we meet our recurring and welcome characters such as Death, Luggage and the Librarian. We also get to meet some even more memorable characters such as Conina the Hairdresser, daughter of the famous Cohen, Nijel the eventual barbarian and so much more. I loved listening to each voice they were given by Robinson. Each characters was literally in my head, walking around and trying to drag me on their adventure.

I only have one small critique in with this particular story. The pot jumped from one particular point I was highly enjoying to the climactic drama very quickly. I do feel that is going to be a feature of all the Rincewind books but this one it didn’t work as well as it did in say, ‘The Light Fantastic’, which never stopped once to breathe because something was happening and we had to go there. I feel because this one starts in a more mundane situation that the jump takes a way a small bit from Pratchett’s usually decent pacing.

However in saying all that I deeply enjoyed this book. I have been putting off coming back to the Disc for too long, this was a necessary change and I chose the audio because I was so busy which worked out even better since the audio for this particular story is totally flawless.

Thank you as always for reading, do tell me if you have read this book in the series and what flavour crisps you think the Luggage would prefer.

★★★★.5/5

The Call- Peadar O’Guilin Review

‘Never has a generation of Irish children been so aware of its own folklore, especially as it pertains to the enemy.’

One thing that I’m so proud of being Irish is both our mythology and our wealth of talented writers. I grew up reading Irish myths, legends, poetry, horror and most importantly, YA written by Irish writers. This is a book I wish I had when I was 15.

The Call is set in a dystopic Ireland that is cut off from the rest of Britain and Europe. The Sidhe (pronounced SHEED) now rule Ireland and take teenagers ritually via an act known as ‘the call’. Our protagonist, Nessa, is training in a survival college and is determined to survive the call. But can Nessa last 3 minutes of the call? Or in such a dangerous future Ireland can she last until she is ‘called’?

I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH HOLY FUCK. Sorry, did I say this out loud? This book has everything I love about Irish fiction and it has so many good things going for it. The presentation of Sidhe as horrifying and vengeful beings, the feeling of the setting actually being Ireland and the fantastic characters and representation kept me so engaged with everything in the story.

Starting with the world building what O’Guilin writes has the very distinct feel and taste of Ireland. The fact that it’s a near future Ireland overrun with malicious Sidhe and still feels like an Ireland I myself live in is the mark of a writer who really knows their setting. The majority of the novel is set in Boyle Survival College, located in Roscommon but there are mentions of other places like Mallow in Cork. This is a grim, brutal setting that leaves no room for forgiveness and doesn’t hold your hand. The Sidhe are beautiful as they are ruthless.

In terms of characters, we have a fantastic cast led by Nessa. Nessa is disabled as a result of complications from Polio she contracted as a child. This is something that is constantly referenced about Nessa and affects a lot of attitudes toward her and her chance for survival for when she is called. She is a strong in both body and will with an instinct to fight back and win against the enemy. She never once lets herself forget she is training for battle and judges every situation against the possibility of the call and her chance of making it. Other standout characters are Megan, Nessa’s main ally, and a couple of the teachers are also very well written such as Ms Breen and Nabil. All of which have fantastic character arcs I refuse to spoil here.

I really think that the plot was constructed very well. I never once felt like there was a calm moment or even that we were going to get a break, anytime I did allow myself a mild moment to relax I was very abruptly woken back up by a character being ‘called’ or something very violent happening. It’s fast paced and does not care about your feelings. There are moments that edge on body horror, showing the Sidhe for what they truly are vs the new image of fae being glamorous royalty only looking to mess up your day. They are the ruthless enemy, taking advantage of the time difference of our world and theirs (3 minutes in ours is an entire day in their world) to torture those they catch and even those who do survive don’t come back the same is how I’ll put it.

It’s such a relief novels like this exist to not only teach others about the real brutality behind Irish myths and legends but also to remind the younger generations of their own culture. I grew up before technology where stories of the Banshee and fairy roads were genuinely scary. The Sidhe were menacing and lived in the back of my mind. Now at least this is accessible through the likes of Peadar O’Guillin even better through the lens of YA fiction.

I highly recommend this to people who want to learn more about Irish culture, anyone who like I grew up on this stuff. Just a mild warning for younger readers with the incidents of body horror, violence and gore.

★★★★★/5

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents- Terry Pratchett

“To be a leader you have to learn to shout! But after you’ve learned to shout, you have to learn not to!”

Welcome back to the Disc! My apologies for the lack of posts. I had World Con last week, went back to work and now I’m out sick for five days with no voice. This is my next book in the Discworld Project. I am still intending to read the series in publication order but this one was a bit too special to delay and is one of the few YA novels within the world .

Here we meet the Amazing Maurice. Maurice is a cat who has gained sentience and employs a group of fellow sentient rats. Along with the cat and the rats we have Keith, an orphan who plays the flute. Maurice, the rats and Keith go from town to town running the same scheme: rats arrive, boy plays flute, boy and cat chase away rats, boy collects money from grateful villagers. Then comes their arrival in the village of Bad Blintz. Something is wrong, and now Maurice’s scheme needs to become a plan. A plan for survival.

This was a joy to read and a nice change to the Discworld continuity that I am currently following. This was the first of the Discworld books to be written for younger readers and I was concerned that it may water down the usual strength of the other books but thankfully I was proven wrong. This is a remarkable story and is just as enjoyable being read by an adult. (Yes. Sadly I count as an adult)

The world building isn’t something that we need to discuss but as always, it’s nice to see another new part of the Disc. Bad Blintz reads like an old English village that has yet to discover the world outside it’s confines. Although it is a very typical fantasy trope/location, Pratchett still makes it work as a point of satire.

The characters are the true standout of this book. Maurice, a ginger street cat, is our main POV but we do move between Keith, some of the rats and an unnamed narrator we come to discover later on. Maurice is definitely my favourite, filled with all the sassiness of any cat but despite his crookster persona he has genuine moments of caring and nature throughout the story. One of my favourite aspects of the rats is how they have named themselves (Dangerous Beans, Nourishing and Sardines to name a few) and how they are adjusting to their new found conciousness. It makes for some brilliant dialogue, which is one of Pratchett’s true talents. We also meet the village girl of Malicia. Malicia loves fairy tales, wears black and never shuts up. I think I may have been Malicia at a younger age.

The plot flows very freely aswell, making for a quick and fluid story. At the stage of this novel being published there were 27 in the Discworld so I feel that compared to some of the other ones I have read so far that you can see how Pratchett has developed. Not only Pratchett but the whole of the Discworld series at this point of publication, had developed to a fantasy favourite with a dedicated fanbase.

This is a good fun read that is easy to get through and is a perfect stepping stone (as a lot of the novels are) on to the Discworld but even if you just want to read this as a standalone work you can. However, I have a new found phobia over this book, and a comment from Pratchett in the acknowledgements. That’s all I can say.

★★★★/5