Fantasy Review: ‘Certain Dark Things’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

A simple enough novel in which a woman runs from those trying to do her harm after a drug war spills over to something more personal. Only the major parties involved happen to be vampires. Which makes things a little more…not simple?

Certain Dark Things is completely engaging yet very simple in execution. The story follows Atl as she ends up in Mexico City while on the run from the rival family who killed her sister. Mexico City is not a good place to be a vampire; sanitation crews are always on the lookout in an attempt to keep the city bloodsucker free. A hunger for young human blood makes hiding out even harder so Atl recruits a teen street kid for a meal. She then makes a decision that could be a mistake by letting young Domingo live.

It is dark and emotional. Domingo goes from crush to possible love interest but Atl always knows her past and future involve blood and heartbreak. A jaded police officer on her trail fights her conscience when the system doesn’t provide the support but a human gang does. And Nick, the spoiled son of a vampire lord, provides the perfect mix of evil and youthful arrogance while acting as the main villain.

There is a bit of a role-playing influence at work as the different vampire sub species are introduced. Atl can trace her heritage back to the Aztecs; she requires younger blood than some and can fly when she has the energy. Nick’s group are bit more Dracula; making puppets out of their human victims through some sort of blood induced mind control. And hints of even more are seen throughout.

On the one had all this is fascinating and the distinctions are not gratuitous; the vampires use their various advantages in a the battle to get the upper hand on each other and a reader who stays aware will have something of a head up before each twist and turn of the plot. On the other hand there is a lot of excess world building that may never pay off; the history of vampires outings could be fascinating but is only a background detail.

As vampire tales go this is one of the better recent releases. It carefully builds a lore that could easily lead to our current myths while adding enough originality to stand on its own. The simple story was a page turner, never a bad thing. And the ending fit the personalities of the characters perfectly, not coming as a surprise but with just the right mix of melancholy and heartbreak.

A strong book with a cool take on vampire lore. Perhaps not the most memorable nor is it a genre changer but well worth reading.

4 Stars

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22 thoughts on “Fantasy Review: ‘Certain Dark Things’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

  1. Hmm… I’ve been on a look out for a good vamp book… I picked up The Medium by MR Graham based on another blogger’s recommendation. Will keep Certain Dark Things in mind for future vamp book adventures!

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  2. I haven’t read a vampire book in ages, let alone a good one, so this one is looking better with every good review I see! I’m glad you liked it and that it has a different take on vampire lore.

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  3. I really enjoyed this in spite of it basically being a drug/gang warfare story (never my favourite – but I’m very forgiving when it’s vampires πŸ˜‰ …and the very end made it all work for me. I love that it stands alone, but the world is easily robust enough to accommodate other (unrelated) stories.

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  4. The idea of vampire “subspecies” and the unusual setting of Mexico City both caught my attention, though I have yet to settle down and read it. Thanks for the reminder!

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