I received an eARC of the book from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Fantasy (Paranormal) Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 4 stars Series: standalone
Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.
Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.
Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
Having read four Silvia Moreno-Garcia books in the space of two months, I have come to appreciate how she can write “small world stake” books and make them feel as epic as an “end of the world” book. These are much quieter books than a lot of others in SFF, focusing on a few people and their entangled crises, but that ultimately don’t affect the wider world or even country. It’s everything to their lives, though.
In CERTAIN DARK THINGS, this is even more obvious as, though there are mentions of the vampiric drug wars, the conflict doesn’t actually involve that. Atl is on the run, and an angry young vampire boy is after her, drawing in some local cops but mostly the world doesn’t change. There are plenty of stakes, keeping the story engaging, but the intimacy of the story is what gives it its power.
There are no faceless CGI armies to defeat, just a crazed vampire (a perfect allegory for a spoilt, rich kid who doesn’t respect women and is used to getting his own way) and the exhausted member of staff trying to do his job and rein the boy in. It lets you really get a feel for the threat they pose.
The setting is a lot of fun. It’s modern day but alternative world, very much a fresh new take on urban/paranormal fantasy. The author’s familiarity with Mexico City really shines through in the details that bring it to life – both the gritty and the beautiful bits. The blend helps it feel realistic for vampires to be there, ingratiating themselves into the country’s underworld.
Vampires control the drug trade in all of Mexico, save the capital, with a variety of vampire types from mythology around the world. These are not the vampires of black-and-white movies (as Atl likes to point out), but far more insidious and dangerous – not to mention less silly looking. No capes!
With all these re-releases of out-of-print books after the success of Mexican Gothic, I’m hoping Silvia Moreno-Garcia has a long career ahead of her and I’m looking forward to more of her books.
Read my reviews of other books by Silvia Moreno-Garcia