Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Book Review: Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Pros: several vampire species, unique setting, great characters

Cons: antagonist upsets his own plans

Atl is a Tlahuihpochtli, a vampire descended from those that served in the Aztec temple in Mexico city in ages past.  Now she’s the last of her clan, hiding in the city from a rival vampire drug lord’s son.  Domingo is a trash picker who stumbles across Atl one evening.  Entranced by her beauty, he accompanies her home.

If you’re looking for something different with regards to vampires - vicious, brutal, vampires - then this book is for you.  In this world, humans discovered vampires were real in the 1960s, but not just Bram Stoker’s style of vampires.  The glossary at the end of the book goes over the different types, though only three types show up in the book.

I really liked Atl, and while I thought Domingo was naive, I couldn’t help mimicking his belief that Atl was a ‘good’ vampire, despite the mounting evidence against this idea.  I did face a crisis of “am I supposed to be rooting for her?” half way through the novel, something I come against when there are no obvious heroes.  Atl is a type of vampire I’ve never heard of, and found fascinating.  She’s strong willed and learns fast. 

Another character I really liked was Ana, a detective who’s faced vampires before and uses her skills to track Atl down.  I loved her grit and determination to make a better life for herself and her daughter.  She’s the character I ended up rooting for the most.

Nick, as the antagonist, was great.  He’s flawed in many ways, not least is that his stupidity and desire to punish Atl upset his own side’s plans.  But he’s a great traditional vampire - terrifying in his disregard for human life, even as he’s constrained in his actions by his father’s human henchman.

Mexico city was a unique setting that was a pleasure to read about.  It’s nice to see books branching out into new locations.

The ending gets pretty brutal, and while one character’s ending left me somewhat unhappy, it was an appropriate and satisfying ending for the book as a whole.

Out October 25th

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