Title: The Hacienda
Author: Isabel Cañas
Pub. Date: May 3rd 2022
Genre: Paranormal/Historical Fiction
☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮
Characters: 7/10 Atmosphere: 7/10 Writing Style: 8/10 Plot: 6/10 Intrigue: 7/10 Logic/Relationships: 7/10 Enjoyment: 6/10
Rating: 48/6.8 = ☆☆ 3 Stars☆☆╮
Rating system created by The Book Roast
Isabel Canas’ Gothic Historical Fiction set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence has been compared to the likes of Mexican Gothic & Rebecca. The story starts off with Beatriz whose father has been killed as a rebel and their home destroyed, leaving her and her mother in poverty. Begrudgingly taken in by her mother’s Criollo side of the family, Beatriz is constantly reminded of her Mestizo blood and slightly darker complexion. She’s delegated to the kitchen in an effort to avoid having to recognize her as being a part of their family up until she gets noticed by wealthy widower/Hacendado Rodolfo. Seeing no way out of her situation, she takes his marriage proposal even though it goes against everything her father fought for. It also means being disowned by her mother as she leaves for San Isidro to live in the Hacienda. A home she believed to make her own, a home that has a soul of it’s own and is haunted by the horrors that have taken place there. The Hacienda doesn’t accept Beatriz as it’s new Dueña and makes sure she knows this. With her husband away from home on business, Beatriz seeks help from the local priest Andres for a home spiritual cleansing. What she didn’t expect was to learn her husbands dark secrets or to fall for the mysterious priest with secrets of his own.
Atmospheric and dark, It was easy to get sucked in and get spooked right along with our Main character as she unraveled the mystery at the core of this story. This had exorcist vibes all along, and I’ll admit that because of this I was much more interested in our priests POV than Beatriz. There’s teasing of a forbidden romance but that’s just what it remains all throughout the book. We also don’t see much interaction between Beatriz & her new husband. I would say this was more of an exploration of the Casta system and the tension/animosity between Criollos and Mestizos. There’s social commentary with regards to the Hacendados vs. the families who’ve worked the lands, and who then really has rights to the land. As I was reading I kept telling myself this was really well researched which makes sense seeing as Cañas has a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. I enjoyed the writing but ultimately felt something was missing and I couldn’t pinpoint what that was. I’m a lover of character driven stories and that may very well be where I felt the disconnect. I’m open to reading more from this author seeing as they cover themes I’m very interested in. This debut novel covers themes of racism, religion, war, colonialism, colorism, bodily autonomy, and the Casta system.
CW: mention of rape and murder, colorism, racism
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