Certain Dark Things By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Summary from NetGalley:
From Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic, comes Certain Dark Things, 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?
ARC provided by Macmillan Tor/Forge via NetGalley for an honest review.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I started this. I don’t think I have read anything classified as neo-noir, or what to think of something claiming to reimagine vampire lore. But I was a bit surprised how much I ended up liking the book in some ways and yet being a bit bored by it too.
The thing I really liked about the book and what kept me going, was all of the different types of vampires and the lore surrounding them. I also liked how different countries were treating them, once they were discovered in the 60’s. There was a lot of complex world building that was neatly woven into the story so it never felt like info dumping. Also the dark and gritty streets of Mexico city were easy to imagine in this slightly futuristic world. It was easy to imagine this story as a movie with the amount of detail that went into the world.
I did find it very hard to connect to any of the characters, mostly because they were a little on the one dimensional side. I just never felt like I knew any of them well enough to care about them. Atl was the most interesting vampire that we met, in that I felt she at least had some morals and that she felt some guilt with the situations she got Domingo into. But I never was able to totally root for her.
I did like Domingo a lot, and felt some connection to him. He was just a street kid struggling to survive in a harsh world when he becomes ensnared by Atl and her world. He was already obsessed with vampires and it was amusing how his fantasies were being canceled out by the reality. I do think that Domingo came to care for Atl, and she came to care about him to, but I am not sure I would classify it as a romance between them.
There are a lot of other characters involved in the story. Nick, the vampire who is trying to kill Atl, was perhaps the most despicable of them. He is the worst kind of vampire with no control over his blood lust. There is also the human cop Ana, who had just as many issues as everyone else, but I kind of liked her. She was fighting for survival to in a world that didn’t want her to succeed.
The story itself was also something that kept my interest, although there were times when the plot slowed down a bit too much. I liked how the gang wars between the vampires were something akin to the drug cartels we have today. Everyone killing each other for territory or for revenge. It is all a nasty business and there didn’t seem to be anyone who cared that much as long as it was vampires killing each other.
If you are looking for something different than the typical vampire story that you see in YA, this is a book you should think about reading. The different vampires and their lore and how they are a totally different species from humans makes for interesting reading. The plot of the story is also good, although it was a bit slow moving for me at times.