In this chilling, gothic, atmospheric novel about a woman named Noemi, we follow her as she tries to rescue her cousin from the family and house she married into all while trying to understand what happened to her.
The most apt word to describe this book is ATMOSPHERIC. You can practically feel the setting and the dampness, the fog, the dreariness, the uneasiness of this story. Moreno-Garcia does a fantastic job of transporting you to the location of the characters no matter where they are. I’ve never really had an experience quite like this. Overall, the story was creepy and eery, but the setting… that stole the show.
I found Noemi to be an interesting character, one that I felt was well suited to being a main character. Her actions made sense, her response to her experiences were logical and understandable. It’s not necessarily that she is the smartest person in the room, nor was she perfect in all of her decision making. It’s that you can understand how and why she did the things she did and felt the things she felt. To me that is more exciting than a character who knows everything and how to solve all of the problems. Where is the drama in that?
This story is steeped in the conversation of colonialism. White, European men invading Mexico and taking what they want whenever they want no matter the consequences is an integral part of this story. You recognize it immediately. Noemi’s cousin in married to a white man who inherited the estate from his father, a man who is close to death. Noemi walks and lives in the house, afraid of it, afraid of what it is doing to her, afraid of the man locked away in his room who is controlling the lives of the people inside.
Honestly, there is a reason this book won the Reese’s Bookclub pick and there’s a reason so many people read it and enjoyed it. I think if you haven’t read it yet and are looking for an unsettling read, this should be your next pick.