Pros: Fascinating worldbuilding
Rating: 4 out of 5
Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Certain Dark Things is a slightly different vampire novel. People have known of vampires for decades, and know that there’s a variety of them usually dependent on country/area of origin. Mexico City has been declared “vampire-free” and has dedicated officers constantly checking IDs and a variety of other things. All or nearly all of the vampire types have representatives in Mexico, and there are a few hiding out in Mexico City itself. Atl, a (Aztec) vampire, is on the run. Her family was killed, and she ends up hooking up with a naive young man named Domingo, homeless, who will soon find himself willing to do anything to help her. Getting back out of the city, however, is not nearly as easy as entering it, requiring Atl to go to another type of vampire for help. In this case that’s Bernardino, a Revenant, feared and loathed by all other vampires as he can draw the life from your body–human or vampire–with a touch. Of course there’s also a Necro, Nick, following her and trying to capture and/or kill her.
Domingo is a wonderful point of view character. He isn’t stupid; he’s just very… plain. He’s plain-spoken, he sees things in simple terms, and he semi-understands when he starts to love Atl that she can’t ever really return it. He’s also resourceful in unusual ways–he knows paths and people that anyone who isn’t homeless would be unlikely to find. He has a wonderful personality, fascinating despite (or perhaps because of) his genuineness. Ana Aguirre is a very determined police detective who’s trying to figure out what the hell is going on, but unfortunately for her she attracts unwanted attention from the Necro chasing Atl. And Necros are capable of turning people into short-term puppets.
I would have liked to know more about Atl’s unusual dog who protected her. We briefly heard that it was genetically modified and had bioluminescent tattoos. I like the idea of a vampire who can sprout black wings (although they’re mostly useful for gliding) and has talons. She also has a comparatively mild reaction to sunlight. There’s a great glossary in the back about the various types of vampire, by the way.
The entire plot is Atl trying to get out of Mexico City, but it’s much better than that makes it sound. She’s pursued relentlessly, and she has friends (or at least people who owe her clan) in fascinating places.
I really enjoyed Certain Dark Things. The worldbuilding in particular fascinated me.
NOTE: Free book provided by publisher in return for honest review
Expected publication date: October 25, 2016