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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

What I'm Reading: Mexican Gothic "Star" Review and My Interview with Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The content I have written for the June issue of Library Journal is starting to appear on the site.

Tomorrow, I will have the link to the review column, but today I want to feature my interview with Silvia Moreno-Garcia, author of Mexican Gothic, the Top Pick for the LibraryReads list in June. We had a candid conversation about horror, her influences, American bias about Mexican literature, and our shared love of horror.

I really enjoyed creating  this interview with her and want to publicly thank Ms Moreno-Garcia for being so honest and open. This is an interview that is fun to read, but also, it is extremely educational for any of my readers as you will learn about horror through an EDI lens.

As proud as I am about this interview, there was a snafu in this issue of Library Journal and much of it has to do with the fact that having a dedicated Horror columnist is still very new to the magazine. I would like to explain as it was an honest error that, like all the best fails, we have learned from and turned into a positive.

I had planned to include a STAR review of Mexican Gothic in my June column. My editor and I had discussed saving it specifically so we could also do this feature interview with Moreno-Garcia to coincide with the June issue because I was also scheduled to interview Moreno-Garcia live for a panel at ALA Annual about horror [before Annual was canceled in person]. We were going to use the coverage in the magazine [early June] to promote that appearance and the book.

Now this would have been late for a normal review as the book comes out on June 30. Holding the review would have been off schedule for a major release. I already knew Mexican Gothic was going to be one of the best horror books I read all year and I also knew that library workers already liked Moreno-Garcia as her Gods of Jade and Shadow was a LibraryReads pick last July and won the RUSA CODES award for Fantasy for 2020. I knew this was going to be a popular titles, but I never dreamed it would be the LibraryReads Top Pick, but I knew it would be talked about. I wanted to spotlight Mexican Gothic as much as I could.

Well, although we thought we communicated that no one else should review Mexican Gothic, that communication did not make it through all of the channels. I think the information stopped at SF/F, meaning Kristi Chadwick, that columnist did not review it, but general fiction, which to be fair, this should not have been reviewed in anyway, ran a review. Again, it was a high interest title and everything was moving to remote as this was all going down, and we were holding the review a later date than it would normally run. 

The result was that a non horror [not even speculative] reviewer read the book and gave it a solid review, but not the star it deserves. Again, not the reviewers fault. This is 100% a horror title and if you are not used to reviewing horror, and thought this was a psychological suspense [as it was initially publicized as], I could see how a star was not assigned. Library Journal could not run a second review once that first one ran.

Now to be fair, my editor, Kiera Parrot did a huge solid and allowed me to substitute 2 small press titles that had already come out this spring for the two titles that got pulled from my column because of the miscommunication. You will see those tomorrow. This is a boon for the genre, as two lesser known, but excellent for all library collections, titles are not getting coverage they wouldn't have, but it stinks for Moreno-Garcia and her amazing book.

However, the best news is that we have now set up a much better communication tree for my columns. I am surprised we have not had more problems since this is only column three and we are living through Covid times. So kudos to LJ in general. This situation could have been a lot worse.

Since my star review was not printed in the magazine, I am giving it to you today. Obviously you are buying this book since it is the June LibraryReads Top Pick, but I wanted to make sure you had the review from a horror perspective. You can use the review below to book talk the title to patrons. It is an excellent choice for readers who want to give horror a try, but beware, this is NOT horror light. It's not extreme, but it is 100% horror and 100% awesome.

Look for this titles in my best #HorrorForLibraries of 2020 lists. Currently the ONLY book ahead of it is The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, and I have read titles that come out through September already.

And please, read the interview too.

STAR Moreno-Garcia. Silvia. Mexican Gothic [Out June 30th!]
Noemi is a cosmopolitan young woman in 1950s Mexico City, with beauty, wealth, and access to education. But when her newlywed cousin sends a troubling letter, Noemi leaves it all behind and heads to High Place, the ancestral country home of her cousins’ new family and enters the secretive world of the Doyle family, grand home falling into disrepair, an unwillingness to trust outsiders, and their strange but powerful, generations long hold over the entire town. The longer Noemi stays at High Place the more tangled she gets in its influence, tangled to a point at which the force behind the malevolent power of the family may not ever let her go. An inspiring and totally original homage to Gothic stories of yore, Moreno-Garcia introduces readers to an awesomely creepy place and extremely evil family whose grip on power relies upon their ability to trap others in their venomous web. Verdict: Featuring a feisty, whip smart protagonist, a perfectly rendered setting, exquisite supernatural details, and an escalating sense of dread that jumps off the page, effortlessly pulling both Noemi and the reader through a range of emotions from unease to panic, and finally, to breathless terror, this is not your mother’s Gothic tale. For fans of intense psychological horror focused on ancestral homes such as The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters or Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami.

Three Words That Describe the Book: Gothic, family secrets, escalating dread

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