Title: Certain Dark Things
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Contemporary
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Date published: October 25, 2016
Page Count: 334
A digital copy of the book was kindly provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Welcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eeking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, must feast on the young to survive and Domingo looks especially tasty. Smart, beautiful, and dangerous, Atl needs to escape to South America, far from the rival narco-vampire clan pursuing her. Domingo is smitten.
Her plan doesn’t include developing any real attachment to Domingo. Hell, the only living creature she loves is her trusty Doberman. Little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his effervescent charm. And then there’s Ana, a cop who suddenly finds herself following a trail of corpses and winds up smack in the middle of vampire gang rivalries.
Vampires, humans, cops, and gangsters collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive?
Recommended to those who would like to read a different kind of vampire story, set in a location one would not normally expect such a tale to take place.
When requesting this book for review, I got an entirely different vibe from its cover and description than what I was actually given. I expected a sexy, violent, vampire-filled thriller. And what I found myself reading, instead, while definitely violent and filled with vampires, was not sexy, or the type of thriller which I am accustomed to.
The fact that I did not get what I expected, is of course not a negative thing in itself, and is in no way the fault of the author. My expectations are my own.
I am not normally disappointed with a book which turns out to be different than what I expected it to be from its back cover blurb, as long as what I am given is satisfying in its own way. And in the case of Certain Dark Things, I find that while I was somewhat satisfied, I know that more could have been done with the story.
Starting with what I did like, I would like to say that I appreciated the amount of thought given to each particular type of vampire. Regular thrillers that I’ve encountered, don’t often put a lot of detail into aspects like these. But Moreno-Garcia definitely put a lot of work into the descriptions and histories of each vampire sub-species found in this novel. There is even an extensive glossary at the back of the book!
I also like that the vampires adjusted to the changes in the world in a realistic manner, becoming involved in criminal activity and the like. That each vampire sub-species is affected differently by different weapons, and that they also feed differently and on different things was also interesting.
As for the characters, Atl was realistic when considering her upbringing, her age, and the experiences she has been exposed to. She feels real in how she handles situations, and in the manner in which she thinks about certain things. While on the subject, Domingo feels realistic as well, in that not every male protagonist is fearless and strong. I did find his more cowardly moments to be somewhat frustrating though, and I did not find him appealing as a mate due to how weak and naive he can be at times. Due to this, I also found the romance aspect of the novel to be lacking, and unsatisfying.
The novel was laid out in chapters, each of which were narrated from three different perspectives: Atl/Domingo, Ana, or Roderigo/Nick. While I do understand the reasoning behind using this type of narrative style, I cannot say that I particularly enjoyed it. I would have much preferred that the story be told only from the Atl/Domingo perspective, as I did not find the Ana and Roderigo/Nick perspectives all that enjoyable. They were informative, that I am not denying, but the information which they provided, I could have come across some other way.
The pacing was alright, although I felt that it went slower at times and then faster at other times. Some parts of the story which were not too interesting were given more attention, for example, while parts which I would have liked to read about in more detail were skimmed over, or skipped entirely.
I will finish off with another aspect of this novel which I did enjoy, which was the setting. Having never read a book which was set in Mexico City, I found it interesting to experience some of the city’s locations through this book. Again, I would have enjoyed more detail here, such as details in architecture, and descriptions of the people which frequent whichever spots of the city. I would also have liked some more of the local lingo in the dialogue. There was much use of some Aztec words in relation to the type of vampire which Atl is, but there was not much “local flavour” to be found in much of anything else.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, about music, magic and Mexico City, won a Copper Cylinder Award and was nominated for the British Fantasy, Locus, Aurora and Sunburst awards.
Her second novel, Certain Dark Things, will be out October 2016. She co-edited the anthology She Walks in Shadows (finalist for World Fantasy Award) and is an editor at the magazine The Dark.
You can visit her webiste here.
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