The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas
Racism, Classism, Haunted House, Catholic Church, Witchcraft, Mexico
What are The Hacienda’s major themes?
What’s The Hacienda about?
Beatriz’s father fought and died for the wrong side of the Mexican revolution. Now, Beatriz and her mother are outcasts in polite society. When a wealthy hacienda widower named Rodolfo asks Beatriz to become his second wife, she sees it as a way out of her predicament.
Rodolfo gives Beatriz the option to stay in the capital with him or to move to the hacienda and take on its responsibilities. She chooses the ladder. Rodolfo escorts her to the hacienda and stays for a few days before returning to the capital leaving Beatriz alone.
Known as Doña Beatriz to the servants and peasants, Beatriz attempts to manage the hacienda’s affairs. To Beatriz’s surprise, Rodolfo has a sister named Juana whom he’s never mentioned. Beatriz finds it strange that Juana doesn’t live in the house, but elsewhere on the property.
Juana has taken care of the hacienda since Rodolfo’s first wife died. Also, the hacienda supports her lifestyle, so she has a vested interest in that things are running correctly. Tensions start immediately, as the two women vie for power and control over the hacienda.
Beatriz notices strange occurrences in the house at night. She’s hearing voices, experiencing chills in the air, and seeing things. All the signs point in the direction that something haunts the hacienda.
She seeks the help of Juana and the servants. But they dismiss Beatriz’s concerns. She goes to town and meets Father Vicente and Father Andrés. She enlists their help. However, the priests come to the hacienda and bless the house. When Beatriz requests an exorcism, Father Vincente scoffs, but Father Andrés seems to show concern.
Desperate, she writes to Rodolfo. Will Beatriz survive in the Hacienda before Rodolfo can come and save her?
What did I like most about The Hacienda?
I enjoyed the concept of The Hacienda. I’m a sucker for haunted house stories. This one didn’t disappoint.
I’m also a big history buff. Throw in the historical angle and it thoroughly enthused me. The setting was fabulous and unique. I don’t read many stories that are set in old Mexico on a hacienda.
What did I like least about The Hacienda?
Unfortunately, I didn’t care too much about the overall style of the book. The writing didn’t jibe with me. The characters weren’t very memorable.
I didn’t find the backstory interesting. One of the best parts of a haunting story is finding out the backstory of the ghost. Why are they haunting this place? What gruesome thing happened?
This is where the book fell flat. It’s been a couple of days since I read the book and I cannot remember why the ghost haunted the hacienda. It was that unmemorable.
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Who will enjoy The Hacienda?
You’ll enjoy this book if you are a die-hard horror fan. You’ll enjoy this book if you are into Mexico-based books, witchcraft, or the Catholic Church. I wouldn’t read this book if your primary interest is historical fiction.
What is my overall opinion of The Hacienda?
I didn’t enjoy the writing or the overall execution of The Hacienda. I found it easy to put down, hard to pick up, and overall, my mind wandered to other things while reading. The Hacienda couldn’t keep my attention.
It had all the elements I wanted from a horror novel. I tried hard to enjoy The Hacienda. But in the end, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted.
How is The Hacienda rated?
My Rating: 3 Stars
Goodreads: 3.85 Stars (3k ratings)
Amazon: 4.2 Stars (1k ratings)
What others are saying about The Hacienda?
(I copied and pasted all quotes, and didn’t correct grammar or spelling.)
The historical framework was solid and engaging for an intriguing speculative fiction. I appreciate when these sorts of novels engage in historical inequities, tensions, spiritual beliefs, and conflicts. — Bookworm
As a huge fan of magic realism, I found this book ultimately unconvincing. — Harry Arader
This book needs to became a movie please! Someone please reach Guillermo del Toro. — Irma Colmenero
Once the basics are in place the plot stalls. There is way too much time spent on character’s feelings with no action. — rusty
I was hoping to like The Hacienda more than I did, especially because Isabel Cañas is a talented writer. Unfortunately, The Hacienda was a miss after its strong atmospheric start because the author’s meticulous, metered prose and contemplative, evenly paced first-person perspectives drag the story down, hindering any sense of suspense. — Richard R. Becker