Our Share of Night
by Mariana Enriquez Published by Random House Publishing Group
on February 7, 2023 Genres: Fiction
, Hispanic & Latino
, LGBTQ Pages:
Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez is THE book you need to read this upcoming spooky season. While its size is intimidating, no page is wasted and there are multiple memorable horror scenes. Many of my favorite literary things are featured: a generational family saga, trauma and its aftermath, cults, Stephen King vibes, dark academia and loads of queerness.
The novel spans decades and focuses on the Argentinian sect of a cult called The Order. The cult members worship a dark power they hope will grant them immortality. The Order is run by a messy, wealthy family that performs heinous acts to appease the dark power. Juan is a medium taken into The Order at a young age. After enduring a twisted, abusive childhood he flees The Order with his son Gasper who may have inherited Juan’s medium abilities. Juan is determined to keep his son safely out of The Order’s grasp. The story is split into six parts, all written in a different style, and presented out of order. The mysteries of the Order are revealed slowly for the reader. Do not expect to understand everything that happens early in the novel. The slow parceling out of information gives this book a high reread potential. Second time readers will likely come across many things that were missed initially.
I felt that each part of the novel had its own flavor, inspired by well-known horror writers or sub-genres. The first part reads like a classic gothic horror story. Part three (my favorite) deals with many child characters and is reminiscent of Stephen King’s IT. Fans of dark academia will enjoy part four where young adults within The Order progress through school. The final part of the novel is quieter than I expected. I was surprised that the novel ended with a slow and reflective tone. Thanks to Enriquez’s great talent Our Share of Night is written in many distinct styles without the story feeling disjointed.
Enriquez flawlessly weaves multiple themes throughout the story. The Order represents the dangers of capitalism. There are many references to Argentinian politics that readers well versed in Argentinian history will pick up on (most these moments went over my head). I appreciate that female characters were pulling the strings behind The Order. While The Order is the worst, I always enjoy reading about a badass matriarchy. I was also thrilled with all of the queer characters and relationships in the story.
My sole critique for this fantastic novel is it desperately needs a family tree at the front of the book. I love family trees, character lists and maps in speculative fiction novels. There are so many characters in Our Share of Night that it’s challenging to keep track of how everyone is related.
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Published by Random House Publishing Group
on June 30, 2020 Genres: Latinx
, Horror Pages:
Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic is a buzzy horror novel that I’ve seen featured all over Booktube and Bookstagram. Readers looking for a horror novel with an intelligent and assertive female protagonist should consider adding this to their Halloween reading lineup. Noemi Taboada receives a concerning letter from her cousin Catalina. Catalina has recently married Virgil Doyle, an Englishman, and moved into their family home called High Place located in the mountains near El Triunfo, Mexico. The Virgil family established themselves at High Place after operating a nearby silver mine. In the letter Catalina claims that Virgil is trying to poison her. Noemi’s father sends her to High Place to check in on her cousin. While at High Place Noemi is allowed little contact with her cousin, who is supposedly suffering from consumption. The house is very creepy and depressing. Most of the Virgil family is less than welcoming. The Virgil family is led by the patriarch Florence Doyle who spends most of his time hidden away in his private wing. The only friend Noemi makes is Virgil’s brother Francis. The novel follows Noemi solving the mystery of the Doyle family and uncovering the secrets within High Place.
I really enjoyed the character of Noemi, who is an intelligent and strong female protagonist. Too often in horror novels the main characters are either too helpless or too naive about the peril they’re in. There was excellent body horror in the later portions of the book. Some gnarly descriptions of a particular character’s body in the later portions of the book were wonderfully repulsive. There are also some dark dream sequences that I enjoyed. The book has themes of colonialism. The Doyle family has set up their home in Mexico to run a mine and Florence is an avid supporter of racial eugenic theories. High House is almost a character itself in the novel. The descriptions of the home and its impact on the mood and characters is strong and reminiscent of gothic classics (major Fall of the House of Usher vibes).
My biggest critique with the novel is how the big twist is handled. I saw the answer to the main mystery from a mile away and assumed there would be another surprise layer to the story. Unfortunately, it played out exactly as I predicted. Moreno-Garcia leaves too many obvious hints. I expect most readers will figure out what is going on before they even make it halfway through the novel. For me horror novels where the plot centers around a mystery need to deliver an unexpected answer. Authors need to balance having the mystery be solvable while also making the mystery clever enough that most readers will be surprised when they discover the answer.
Mexican Gothic did not wow me as much as I expected it to. There are great aspects to the novel, but the too easy to solve mystery really soured my opinion. However, if you want a Halloween book with a Latinx protagonist or a recent release with gothic elements this may be worth the read. Hopefully the Hulu adaptation of Mexican Gothic will do a better job of making the story’s twist less obvious.