The Hacienda
by Isabel Cañas
out May 3, 2022

Ideal for fans of haunted house horror and heroines who scream right back at the monsters.

Beatriz only marries Rodolfo because "Our relationship was founded on one thing and one thing only: my world was a dark, windowless room, and he was a door." She is overjoyed to leave the home of her arrogant and harsh relatives where she has been working as a servant to join her new husband on the maguey hacienda his family has owned for several generations.

But the hacienda is not the paradise she hoped. She encounters microaggressions from the fairer-complected upper class neighbors, cagey distrust from the domestic staff, and open hostility from her new sister-in-law. Her husband returns to the capitol alone for business and she finds herself alone and friendless.

The haunting begins that night with a chest full of blood.

Beatriz turns to local priest Padre Andres to cleanse the home of malevolent spirits. From this point on, the story alternates POV between Beatriz and Andres, whose witchy heritage and family ties allow him to more deeply sense and interact with the home. Andres is a powerful witch by birth and a devout Catholic priest by choice, and uses his abilities to bless the local residents and his position within the church to hide from the Inquisition.

While Beatriz does require Andres's help, she is no frail flower -- she quite regularly stares down the haunting and grits her way through its torment. When she walks directly into dangerous situations, it's not with the naivety that kills off characters in scary movies, it is with the grim determination of a soldier entering battle. I cheered for her and laughed out loud when she would get cheeky with the spooks.

I had a hard time putting this book down.

It strongly reminded me of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic but I'm not complaining. I would read a hundred more books like these. Will someone keep on writing them, pretty please?

arc received for review