Title: The Hacienda
Author: Isabel Cañas
Published: 3 May 2022
Note: this will not be a spoiler-free review, you have been warned.
In a post-war society, Beatriz has no father, no home, and no place in society. So when handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security his estate in the countryside provides. She’ll 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, and desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés. He’s no ordinary priest, as Andrés relies on his skills as a witch to fight off the malicious presence haunting the hacienda.
This book was such a fun and immersive novel. It definitely reminds me of the classic gothic novels I’ve read in times past, but it was great to read a novel set in a different place. Instead of the countryside of England, we have the countryside of Mexico, which brings it’s own history and superstitions. For instance, the people in the village actually don’t step foot in the hacienda due to their beliefs in the superstitious. It was especially riveting to see the Mexican War of Independence from a different perspective. Granted, it wasn’t a significant focus in the book, but the residual effects were. Since I grew up and went to school in Texas, we didn’t focus much on this time period, if at all.
The story itself was fascinating about all the spirits of the house living there and making residence after they die in the house. It reminds me a bit of Ghosts (BBC version). The problem that Beatriz faces is the fact that the malevolent spirit is Rodolfo’s first wife, Catalina. Said to be a mean and cruel person to everyone, none of the servants nor villagers liked her. While it does have callbacks to Rebecca, the difference here is that Juana is not a fan of Catalina either. And she hasn’t changed her tune with Beatriz. For Juana, we find out later on in the book that she’s not the daughter of Rodolfo’s father, which means she has nothing. Rodolfo threatens all of this, not only by bringing in wives who have more power now, but also because he says he’s not going to take care of her anymore. Beatriz and Andrés overhear this.
As was the case for most countries at this point, yay, patriarchy (they said sarcastically), a woman’s power comes from the domestic sphere, where she wields her authority over the staff and even her husband. It gave Juana a lot more depth, but it was, in a way, an understandable motive. Of course, I disapprove of hurting or killing others, but it was (and still is) a common motive. What woman wouldn’t want control and independence over their own life?
Happy Reading Darlings!