By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
JUNE 30, 2020 • 352 PAGES
If Fall of the House of Usher were a song, this would be the remixed version ft. Bad Bunny and written by someone high on shrooms. And you know what? I’m about it. I’ll start with a few cons, because I want to end on a good note.
Things I didn’t enjoy: There are only two dynamic characters– Noemí, our protagonist, and Francis. Everyone else pretty much stays the same throughout the novel. Florence would have been a great vehicle to explore the complex progression of generational madness and decay through a character, but she just stayed one dimensional with only *ONE* hint of her humanity exposing itself— and that was over and gone in a single line. There’s also a potential rape, and I’m over writers trying to use it as a shock factor. It really wasn’t necessary for the progression of the plot.
Moreno also spends a lot of time on the architecture and the Ouroboros, which, yes is a facet of gothic writing, but she kinda beats you over the head with it.
Things I enjoyed: Noemí, is spunky, lively, and both shallow and deep. She defies binaries, which I always love in the main character. I enjoyed reading gothicism through the lens of her contrasting nature. I also found the explanation of “the gloom,” or the haunting, both ridiculous and… intriguing? It’s definitely far out and some pseudoscience mumbo jumbo, but I loved that it was explored and explained in a way that made you stop and go, “Huh. That’s cool but in a weird and creepy way.” I would have also liked to have seen more nuances of Mexican culture and traditions, but I think Moreno’s exclusion of that was very intentional and an interesting narrative choice.
Overall, MG is a page turner. The fourth quarter is heavy and claustrophobic, and I was thoroughly immersed in the insanity of it all.
Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Best Novel (2020), Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2020), Locus Award for Best Horror Novel (2021), World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (2021), Shirley Jackson Award Nominee for Novel (2020), British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel (August Derleth Award) (2021), CBC Canada Reads Nominee (2023), Prix Aurora Award for Best Novel (2021), Goodreads Choice Award for Horror (2020), Ladies of Horror Fiction Award Nominee for Best Novel (2020), RUSA CODES Reading List Nominee for Horror (2021)
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