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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Book Review: The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

The Hacienda
by Isabel Cañas
May 3, 2022
Publisher: Berkeley
ISBN: 9780593436691
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 battle the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda.

Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.

Beatriz marries Don Rodolfo Solórzano and travels with him to his hacienda. There she learns that his first wife had either been abducted by bandits or something else, but she ignores the rumors, feeling she finally has a place of her own
But visions and voices began invading her new safe place, making it dangerous for her. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, makes fun of Beatriz’s fears, and yet, Juana never steps inside the place much. Her husband says she can contact the local church for help. The young priest, Padre Andres, agrees to help, even though he was once told to leave that place and never return.

A tense supernatural thriller of a house seems alive reminding me of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, where a house haunts the people inside it. If you enjoy a good ghost story, forbidden romance, and historical novels, Isabel Cañas has written a story that combines all three into one scary package.

I gave The Hacienda 4 sheep.

Reviewed by Pamela K. Kinney

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.

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