Spoiler Free Review: When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Title: When No One is Watching

Author:ย Alyssa Cole

Pub. Date:ย September 1st 2020

Genre: Fiction/Suspense/Horror Noir

Format: ALC

Publisher:ย William Morrow

Pages: 368 pages

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๐Ÿ–คALC provided by author in exchange for an honest review๐Ÿ–ค

Hi hello, Latinx Brooklynite here๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿฝspecifically Williamsburg where gentrification swept through and forever changed the neighborhoods I called home. Alyssa Cole gives us Sydney Green, a Black woman who loves her community in Brooklyn but is seeing it erased with each passing day. Major developers buying houses & converting them into condos. The beautiful brownstones where her neighbors have lived for generations sold. Sydney is feeling very paranoid & questioning the whereabouts of those familiar faces. After experiencing a neighborhood tour where the hostess pointed out ONLY the Caucasian history, Sydney decides to start up her own. Theo, a white newcomer to the neighborhood is experiencing relationship issues. He knows he wants to help Sydney in her research as an ally but has to prove his intentions are good. Theoโ€™s girlfriend is racist & constantly referring to them as superior to the black people in the community theyโ€™ve moved into. We follow Sydney & Theo as they set out in starting up her tour company. There are times where I wondered if Sydney was an unreliable narrator. Sheโ€™s a woman determined not to lose her home or her history. In many ways this book felt like Horror Noir & I LOVED it!!! The Goodreads synopsis mentions the movie Get Out by Director Jordan Peele & thatโ€™s exactly the vibes I got while listening to the audiobook. Loved listening to the excerpts from โ€œThe Hoodโ€ app where many of the โ€œKarenโ€ type characters really displayed their micro-aggressions & were checked by black residents in the neighborhood.

CW: alcohol abuse, sick parent, cheating, gentrification, microagressions, death of a parent, panic attacks, gaslighting, anxiety, abduction attempts, involuntary medical experimentation

I’m no thriller expert and so I won’t pretend to know what makes a good thriller. What I do know is that if you go into this read and treat it as you would a horror, then it will meet those expectations. Otherwise, the plot pacing will seem off which is in large part what many readers have said they found issue with. I urge you to seek out reviews by black content creators who have been vocal about how realistic they found the fear & anxiety Sydney was experiencing. What I can say is that as a Latinx woman who has seen my childhood neighborhood torn down, redesigned and sold to the highest bidder…I found this book extremely relatable. I’ve seen whole families disappear at times rather abruptly after being offered a big check to leave their homes. Other times they’re met with uncooperative landlords who make it so they have no choice but to leave the community.

Gentrification is a complex subject and the ramifications it has on those who experience this won’t be the same for everyone. Sydney is a black woman who is made to feel paranoid. She encounters Theo’s girlfriend Kim who basically spews out any & all microagressions you can think of. What once was familiar territory is now a place where she has to watch over her back. Sydney is also experiencing a higher level of harassment from debt collectors, her stress levels are through the roof. All of which when put together, paints a picture of someone who may or may not be stable. That’s what made this book unputdownable for me! the fact that everything she was experiencing can and HAS happened. That ending was chefs kiss perfection! I smirked and nodded my head up & down as I stood in solidarity. This may be Alyssa Cole’s first book outside of the Romance genre but WOW! it is a solid entry into Horror Noir, I personally am excited to see more genre exploring from this author.


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Spoiler Free Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Mexican Gothic

Author:ย Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

Pub. Date: June 30th 2020

Genre: Gothic Horror/Latinx/Mystery

Format:ย Physical

Publisher:ย Del Rey

Pages: 301 Pages

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โ€œ๐‘จ ๐’˜๐’๐’Ž๐’‚๐’ ๐’˜๐’‰๐’ ๐’Š๐’” ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’†๐’… ๐’Š๐’” ๐’‚ ๐’ƒ๐’Š๐’•๐’„๐’‰, ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’‚ ๐’ƒ๐’Š๐’•๐’„๐’‰ ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’‰๐’‚๐’“๐’…๐’๐’š ๐’…๐’ ๐’‚๐’๐’š๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ: ๐’‚๐’๐’ ๐’‚๐’—๐’†๐’๐’–๐’†๐’” ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’„๐’๐’๐’”๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’ ๐’‰๐’†๐’“”

๐‘ด๐’†๐’™๐’Š๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐‘ฎ๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’„ isย set in 1950โ€™s Mexico, a Gothic Horror that follows our mid-twenties socialite Noemi (gave me young Evelyn Hugo vibes) who has been directed by her father to go check up on her cousin Catalina. Catalina the cousin who has always been a nurturing role model, married in haste & not much is known about her new husband. It is thought that perhaps there were financial motives driving her fiancรฉ to seal the deal but distance has taken Catalina away from home. Now relocated to a more remote area where communication is lack, Catalina is a source of worry when her letter is received & in it she speaks of a haunted house and whispers within the walls. Noemi strikes a deal with her father, in exchange for enrollment in the University of her choosing she will travel to Catalina to secure her mental state. Noemi is a character way ahead of her times in many ways with a wide array of interests. She steers clear of getting emotionally attached to her love interests & instead feeds her unquenchable this for knowledge. Often times thought of as fickle for starting & ditching different subject matters, Noemi is a force to be reckoned with. Quick witted, fiercely independent, charming, headstrong with a dose of class that drips cool. Noemi is the type of character you’ll never forget. High Place, the big house she travels to is a place you’ll never forget. A place where Noemi will question not only the sanity of her cousin but her own as well. A place that has a lot of history, secrets & pain hidden within its walls. In many ways, High Place is a main character in this story…

Atmospheric & haunting this is a slow burn tale that will raise the hairs as you read. It is a mystery with smart writing in which Moreno-Garcia weaves in themes of eugenics, misogyny, racism, and colonization. It is character driven & has the ability to transport you out of your own surroundings. I read this on the beach and was easily transported to High Place which is the big house this story is set in. I got the same vibes I’d get whenever reading anything by Edgar Allen Poe which left me shook! I don’t ever run to pick up horror but I’d been hearing about this author for quite some time & decided it was time to see for myself. I devoured this book, engrossed & invested in every single page. Unable to put this one down I even read it while accompanied by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia’s Book Playlist on Spotify for this book. I was instantly sucked in by Noemi’s charm, seeing her work her way around the people living in the house while she tries to extract any bit of info. The creepy AF vibes you get while she wanders the halls & speaks to the residents who seem off and strange. Everything about this book was strange but in such a good way! Noemi didn’t shy away from any challenging topics & seeing her handle certain topics had me admiring her at many points throughout the story. This may be my first Moreno-Garcia book but it certainly won’t be last especially since I currently own a couple of her previous works. I’m looking forward to continue falling in love with this authors work, discovering more Latinx characters in the wide variety of genres she has written in.


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