It’s 1950 Mexico City. Noemí Taboada is a university student, but mostly she’s a socialite from a wealthy family aiming to have as much fun as possible.
Noemí’s father has received a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married a man no one knows very well. It sounds like Catalina is mentally disturbed. So, he asks Noemí to visit Catalina to find out what’s going on.
Catalina has married Virgil Doyle, the son of silver mine owners originally from England. But the silver has run out, and Noemí finds High Place a crumbling Victorian mansion. The family is not welcoming, and they impose a lot of rules, including only infrequent visits to Catalina. Catalina herself seems at first simply ill—she has tuberculosis—but later babbles about something listening, something in the walls.
Although the youngest son of the family, Francis, is friendly and helps her out, the rest of the family remains cold. Noemí herself begins having bizarre dreams.
Some readers may have a problem with how slowly this novel gets going, because the only thing that happens for quite a while is these dreams, but eventually the action picks up. Other readers have complained at the unlikelihood of the secrets revealed. That bothered me at first, but then I thought it was in the spirit of the original gothic novels. I decided it wasn’t any less likely than the notion of vampires or zombies and in these days a lot more original.
The novel is atmospheric, the heroine feisty, the ending quite suspenseful. It delivers what it promises.