Review: The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

cover of The HaciendaThe Hacienda by Isabel Cañas
Berkley (May 3, 2022)
352 pages; $20.99 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

Isabel Cañas’ striking debut, The Hacienda, is a historical, Gothic horror novel enticing readers with a compelling haunted house tale while making a grab for hearts with a love story nestled in its core.

Beatriz is a fierce, wildly independent woman with ambition who sets her sights well above her lowly station. Beatriz and her mother were forced to move in with a family member after her father dies in Mexico’s War of Independence.

One night, she meets a wealthy widower and immediately decides that he is her ticket out of their dire situation. They marry and she is whisked off to the estate of her dreams.

The reality of her new life becomes uncertain as soon as she arrives at Hacienda San Isidro.

This is where the big “Rebecca” vibes enter the room! The fantasies of the idyllic marriage to a wealthy, powerful man and living a life of luxury in his beautiful estate begin to dissipate.

The author does an amazing job painting a vivid sense of place. She describes the landscape and the hacienda with intricate details so that the reader feels they are touring the grounds right alongside Beatriz as she sees her new home for the first time.

Cañas leans into classic Gothic traditions by immersing the reader in the narrative; wrapping luscious prose in a cloak of dark, haunting atmosphere with that glorious sense of doom and gloom. It’s utterly mesmerizing to the point of never wanting to separate from its grip. Plan to spend long hours in this book.

The unexpected aspects of this book are best left for readers to discover on their own but it’s important to mention that investment in the characters is at a premium, especially Padre Andrés.

The Hacienda is an exciting debut because it masterfully selects the best parts of several horror sub-genres and works them together to create something altogether unique and hauntingly magical. This is a must read and Isabel Cañas is one to watch.

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