Book Review: The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

  The Hacienda  by Isabel Cañas Genre:  Gothic horror, Historical fiction Synopsis:   During the overthrow of the Mexican government, ...


The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Genre: Gothic horror, Historical fiction

During the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father was executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security that his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost. But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark the doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano? Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will save her.

Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness. Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Abuse, death, hallucinations/paranoia, gaslighting, manipulation

Overall rating:  ★★★☆☆

I’ve learned in the past couple of years that I really love a gothic horror novel. And while I did like The Hacienda, it felt like it had been done before. I was immediately reminded of Mexican Gothic, but while I absolutely loved the originality and unexpected twists of MG, The Hacienda just felt too familiar in too many ways for me. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it, but I can say it irked me in some weird way.

"Words can damn or bless in equal measure, and are never to be used lightly."

I think there’s also the fact that I just don’t love historical fiction, so while the historical pieces we’re certainly interesting and there was a lot of new information for me, historical fiction tends to feel too academic to me, even wrapped in to something as interesting as horror, witchcraft, and a strong female lead. I think for folks who enjoy gothic horror, historical fiction, and a nice slow burn, this would be a great book for those folks. It just wasn’t a great book for me.

There were a ton of good things about the book, particularly how creepy it was. It’s definitely dark and icky. When reading, you can feel the chill of the house and see the flickering of candles. The witchcraft felt incredibly real and was nerve-wracking. And the relationship-building between Beatriz and Andrés was so intense and uncomfortable. Isabel Cañas is an incredible writer and I absolutely look forward to reading more from her.

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