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The hacienda
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The Hacienda
Rating:3.6 stars
Publication date:2022

About the author:

Isabel Cañas is a Mexican-American speculative fiction writer. After having lived in Mexico, Scotland, Egypt, and Turkey, among other places, she has settled (for now) in New York City, where she works on her PhD dissertation in medieval Islamic literature and writes fiction inspired by her research and her heritage.


Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches...

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.

Publisher's Weekly

Starred review from December 20, 2021
Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in Cañas’s stunning debut. After Beatriz’s mestizo father, General Hernandez, is betrayed and murdered in Mexico’s War of Independence, Beatriz marries mysterious widower Don Rodolfo Solórzano, as his estate, the Hacienda San Isidro, seems the perfect escape for Beatriz and her mother. Beatriz’s first sign that something’s off is the housekeeper, who refuses to work without burning copal incense and chalking glyphs on the kitchen door. Then Beatriz is plagued by bad dreams and mysterious, bloody visions. Her sister-in-law, Juana, who shares the estate, insists these are signs that Beatriz is going mad. Beatriz, however, comes to believe that her husband’s first wife was murdered and is haunting the house, and she finds an ally in Mestizo priest Padre Andrés, who’s torn between the folk beliefs of his childhood and his Catholic teachings. To exorcise the house, the pair digs into a past deliberately obscured by those who would kill them if the truth comes out. Cañas clearly knows the genre, alternately deploying and subverting haunted house tropes. The result is a brilliant contribution to the new wave of postcolonial Gothics. Readers won’t want to miss this. Agent: Kari Sutherland, Bradford Literary.

Library Journal

September 1, 2022

Blending Mexican folklore with haunted house tropes, Ca�as skillfully builds the tension and fear to an almost unbearable level in her debut novel. After Beatriz's father is murdered during the Mexican War of Independence, she weds much older Don Rodolfo for security. He brings her to his country estate, the Hacienda San Isidro, and promptly leaves her there. The only friendly face belongs to Padre Andr�s, upon whom she increasingly relies as more and more frightening things happen. The house itself is a character--malicious, haunted, and evil. Beatriz tries to find out what happened to Rodolfo's first wife and sets in motion a series of terrible events. Narrator Victoria Villarreal portrays the initially hopeful, then frightened, and finally fierce Beatriz with great skill. The bewilderment in her voice as she narrates the events in the story is painful to hear. Occasional chapters are narrated by Padre Andr�s, voiced by Lee Osorio. He capably conveys the conflict of the young Padre, who is torn between the Catholic Church and his more folkloric practices. VERDICT The audio production of this stellar debut adds to the innate tension of the book and belongs in every public library collection.--B. Allison Gray

Copyright 2022 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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