Book Title: Certain Dark Things
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre: Horror, Noir, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Thriller
Blurb from Goodreads
From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a pulse-pounding neo-noir that reimagines vampire lore.
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?
And here I am reading yet another book by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, my third this year and fifth in total!
This is another noir style novel except this one takes place in a sort of alternate version of our reality where vampires are very, very real. They are very, very scary. And they are not confined to the shadows. Instead their existence is common knowledge and there seems to be a convergence of the different types of vampires occurring in Mexico City.
In the middle of all this is Domingo; my beautiful, sweet, naive Domingo. He’s a quiet-going street kid that earns his living collecting rubbish. He’s just doing his best to get by, to keep his head low and not get in any trouble…. I love him. He’s so pure of heart and I just felt so protective of him as a reader!
But then Domingo goes and gets himself tied up with Atl. Dark and brutal Atl, a vampire who is the last of her particular clan that is on the run from a rival vampire group. And she and Domingo seem like complete polar opposites… she’s tough. Has a hard shell and has seen, and taken part in, very violent activity… but underneath she’s so insecure and lost.
Initially it seems like she’s taking advantage of Domingo and his purity. Taking advantage of his infatuation with her and using him for her own gain… but as the novel develops and these two go on the run together from the law and the other vampires they develop this connection. And their relationship surprises both of them…
The book also includes chapters from the perspective of a jaded police officer, Ana, and follows the very dark and violent vampire Nick, the story’s main antagonist who is tracking down Atl. The inclusion of these points of view added extra dynamism to the narrative which really helped to flesh out both the story and world building.
Overall I really enjoyed this book.
I absolutely LOVED how the book incorporated vampires from different groups and clans. You could definitely tell that Moreno-Garcia has done her research into vampire mythology with how she included vampire origin stories from around the globe. My knowledge of vampires pretty much starts and ends with my teenage love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer back in the day so getting to read something that provided insight into different types of vampires from folklore versus Hollywood was very appealing.
Admittedly I found it a little icky in parts because these are pretty violent vampires rather than the sparkling kind from recent popular culture, so there are a few descriptions of blood and gore… However, nothing felt gratuitous which is what I usually struggle with when there’s violent imagery. Everything in this book just felt perfectly placed.
As with any Moreno-Garcia novel the atmosphere is incredibly visceral. Mexico City feels as much a character in this novel as any of the humans or vampires. To me the pacing was just perfect; I was quickly engrossed by this alternate vision of our world and I thought the narrative unfolded at just the right tempo to always keep me wanting to read just one page more.
I have to say I adored the ending. I don’t wish to give away any spoilers so all I will say is that Moreno-Garcia writes the kinds of endings that make me as a reader feel that the story lives on even after I’ve closed the last page which satisfies my tendency to daydream about what happens to my favourite fictional characters after the end.
If you’ve enjoyed Moreno-Garcia’s style of writing in the past then I think you should definitely check out Certain Dark Things. I’m so pleased that it is being republished so that relatively new Moreno-Garcia fans like myself have the opportunity to read her older works.
*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*
Publishing 7th September 2021, Jo Fletcher Books (Quercus)
My Reviews for Other Novels by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- Gods of Jade and Shadow, a Mayan influenced fantasy set in the Jazz Age
- Mexican Gothic, a sumptuously atmospheric creep-fest
- The Beautiful Ones, a historical romance with a subtle hint of magical realism
- Velvet Was the Night, a noir style crime novel