I'm truly puzzled by all of the good reviews for this book, not just from Amazon readers but from major newspapers and periodicals. Based on those reviews--from sources in which I usually have some faith--I couldn't wait to get my copy and dive in. Not only do I enjoy the shivers that great examples from the genre of supernatural dread and "magical realism" can provide, I was excited to learn more about Mexican legends, culture, etc.
What an incredible letdown! The writing.....well, not meaning to be too unkind about it, but it was amazingly juvenile. No sense of the time period (the 1950's), no sense of location (most of the characters are British! So why even set it in Mexico??), no real sense of atmosphere (except for the usual cliches: fog, bad dreams, dark corridors, old cemeteries, assorted fungi), and no real narrative drive. The character of Neomi is kind of interesting, but her behavior and thoughts seem anachronistic. It was a chore to slog through the so-called "thrilling" and "terrifying" climax, as the vast majority of reviews described it. In fact, at times it seemed unintentionally funny. Or maybe intentionally? I often had the feeling that the author felt that she was "slumming" for the bestseller horror crowd by throwing in every predictably gross and worn-out image she could conjure up (probably giggling all the way), checking off what she thought such a readership might be expecting.
If you want to read about indescribable eldritch horrors, dig out your old Lovecraft books instead. If you want modern psychological horror or true magical realism, try Ramsey Campbell, Paul Tremblay, R.B. Russell, Michael Marshall Smith, Rebecca Lloyd. If you want "creepy" that will stay with you for years, read Robert Aickman. If you want visceral horror with classy thriller writing, read Scott Smith's THE RUINS.
This is the most over-hyped "horror" novel since BIRD BOX. But maybe that's just because most readers don't really want to be haunted by their horror reads.