The cover of the book was what drew me in and I am always a sucker for mystery and horror stories set in a creepy old house with creepy inhabitants.
- The writing was really good. And I mean really good. It was a very breezy read and I found myself constantly wanting to find out what was happening next. The strong, imaginative writing actually helped me to look over some of the things that did not work in this novel for me.
- I’m someone that needs to like the main character or at least find them tolerable and interesting enough to want to continue engaging in the story. The protagonist, Noemi, I found to be interesting enough. She’s feisty, very impulsive (I sometimes disliked how rude and spoilt and impulsive she could get actually, ha) and is an interesting enough character. She’s attracted and repulsed by Virgil, Catalina’s husband who has taken a liking to her and has started entering her dreams and almost sexually assaulting her several times. She strikes up a friendship with Francis, Virgil’s cousin once-removed, and actually ends up romantically with Francis.
What didn’t work:
- One of the reasons Why I picked this up was due to the fact that it was tagged as a “historical fiction”. I found this to be quite misleading because aside from the fact that this was set in 1950s Mexico, there was barely any mention or weaving in of any history. It was more gothic horror than anything else. Though the horrors tend to be due to the creepy characters that inhabit the house and the history of the family than anything else. The atmosphere was perpetually gloomy all throughout.
- The pacing was slow and about 6-8 chapters in, there still wasn’t much mention of why Catalina was behaving the way she did and there wasn’t much progression or action.
- I found the twist/reveal to be a little anti-climatic as well and a little far-fetched to be honest. Fungus that helps extend this particular family’s life and at the same time they had to intermarry to continue the bloodline. Hmm. Okay. I think I’d have appreciated the creepiness more if it had in fact been a supernatural episode or a haunting of some sort, and not cause of some fungus/mushrooms. The entire family has these ties to the mushrooms which creates a “gloom” in the house and causes people to have weird and eerie nightmares. The ending bit about Ruth’s involvement also confused me alot
- The romance between Noemi and Francis. Just cannot buy this. At all. A friendship would have worked fine, they seemed too different to each other and a romance that seemed borne out of circumstances more than anything else.
- The characters aside from Noemi and perhaps Francis, were all rather one-dimensional honestly and were all different types of creepy. So it makes for incredibly gloomy reading at times.
I feel like this has to be mentioned as I don’t feel this is brought up as much.
There were some really disgusting stuff mentioned in the book- people vomitting in people’s mouths, pus, bile, blood, black liquid flowing from a man’s body etc. I just found those scenes to be incredibly gross, and not creepy in the least bit.
Also, there are many scenes and/or mentions of incest/incestuous relationships rigger warning for mentions of incest/incestuous relationships, sexual assault/almost-rape. Also scenes of disturbing leery men doing leery creepy things. It made a very uncomfortable read at times and may be triggering for some.