The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas Book Review Read it later

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This post is all about The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas!

Fall is my favorite season. As the leaves change, the nights get longer, and the temperatures drop, there’s nothing I love more than curling up with a good, spooky book. I’m always drawn to gothic haunted house stories for their spine-tingling atmosphere and ability to impart lessons from the past. The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas delivered on all of my hopes for a chilling, engrossing, ghostly story – but it was so much more. Seamlessly blending gothic fiction, paranormal suspense, and historical fiction, this brilliant debut also tackles several important themes during the time period following the Mexican War of Independence during the 1820s. 


Have you read The Hacienda?

Beatriz loses everything when her father, a disgraced general, is executed following the overthrow of the Mexican government. Along with her mother, Beatriz flees to her uncle’s house, where they are treated as barely more than indentured servants by her cruel and jealous aunt. Longing to be free and to have a home for her mother and herself, Beatriz accepts the proposal of the wealthy, dashing, but mysterious Don Rodolfo Solorzano. Despite rumors about his first wife’s sudden disappearance, Beatriz becomes Solorzano’s second wife and the lady of Hacienda San Isidro. 

At first, it all seems like a dream come true. With a handsome husband and sprawling San Isidro, a working agave plantation that is used to make pulque, Beatriz imagines she and her mother will live out their days in peace and safety and want for nothing. But shortly after moving into the Hacienda, Rodolfo must return to the capital for work, leaving Beatriz alone with his irascible sister, Juana, and a meager staff of house servants. 

As Beatriz explores the Hacienda on her own and begins making plans for its improvement, she feels things that she can’t quite explain. During the day there’s a bone-chilling coldness in certain areas of the house, and she has a feeling of being watched. But nighttime is when the real terrors begin. There’s a dark presence that seems to awaken at night, singling out Beatriz and terrifying her with visions and voices. She begs for help from Juana and the staff, but they dismiss her fears. With no one else to turn to, she goes to the local church where she meets a young priest, Padre Andres, who seems to have a personal connection to the Hacienda and is willing to go against his superiors to secretly help Beatriz. 

When Padre Andres arrives at the Hacienda, and the house responds to his presence, Beatriz learns that the priest harbors dark secrets of his own. As they confront the terrifying darkness together, pieces of themselves are laid bare, and bonds are forged. But will their light be enough to drive out the darkness, or will they be swallowed by it entirely?

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Genre: Historical

When Beatriz marries the dashing Don Rodolfo Solorzano following the Mexican War of Independence, she becomes the lady of Hacienda San Isidro. Determined to make this countryside estate her home and refuge, Beatriz soon discovers a sinister presence within the house. With no one to help her, Beatriz turns to a young priest, Padre Andres, who has secrets of his own. Can they battle the darkness within the Hacienda, or will it lead to their eternal doom?

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This was such an interesting, unique, and utterly absorbing read that gave me plenty of thrills and chills while introducing me to a period of Mexican history that I knew very little about. The writing is absolutely gorgeous and reminiscent of the time and places it is written for. I love how Cañas uses gothic elements to fully immerse readers in the atmosphere of Hacienda San Isidro. From the flicker of the candles to the smell of burning copal, I felt like I was inside the Hacienda right alongside Beatriz, running for her life, with nowhere to hide, which made reading this book a truly haunting experience. 

Beatriz is a fantastic heroine who you can’t help but root for. She is an exile, a survivor, and a fighter, and she clings to her dreams with a ferocity that is truly inspiring. Beatriz is also smart and self-aware, and she isn’t afraid to ask for help when she realizes the forces she is up against are more powerful than she can handle on her own. 

When Beatriz teams up with Padre Andres, who is also an exile with a difficult past, we see how the darkness within the walls of the Hacienda isn’t the only sinister force. Like the evil within the Hacienda, which rots and erodes the house’s heart, racist colonialism, and religious corruption have a deadly grip on Mexican society during this time. Padre Andres is a fascinating character with surprising secrets which I think are best left to readers to discover on their own, so I won’t say too much about him here. But as Beatriz and Padre Andres battle forces both within the Hacienda and outside its walls, I found myself completely absorbed by their dynamic. This is when the story really took off for me, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. 


Overall, The Hacienda was a riveting, haunting reading experience that I will remember for a long time. I held back from a full five-star rating only because of one plot hole that I just can’t seem to get past, and the fact that the ending was not quite as tidy as I would have liked. While it was definitely creepy and chilling, I would not classify this book as horror, and I think it would be a great read for someone who enjoys paranormal suspense and historical fiction. Light some candles and make yourself a cup of Mexican hot chocolate as you journey inside the walls of Hacienda San Isidro in this captivating, atmospheric story!

Do you believe in ghosts? I do, and have even had my own ghostly encounter in a haunted hotel that continues to both terrify and fascinate me to this day! I would love to hear your thoughts! 

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