Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Certain Dark Things combines elements of Latin American mythology with a literary voice that leads readers on an exhilarating and fast-paced journey.
Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Here in the city, heavily policed to keep the creatures of the night at bay, Domingo is another trash-picking street kid, just hoping to make enough to survive. Then he meets Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers. Domingo is smitten. He clings to her like a barnacle until Atl relents and decides to let him stick around.
But Atl's problems, Nick and Rodrigo, have come to find her. When they start to raise the body count in the city, it attracts the attention of police officers, local crime bosses, and the vampire community. Atl has to get out before Mexico City is upended, and her with it.
Certain Dark Things follows five separate voices through a dark, tangled story about humans, vampires, and the struggle between them. In a world where humans have known about the existence of vampires since the late 1960s, Mexico City has become an autonomous city-state with strict rules against vampires within the city limits. Sanitation officers prowl the streets, on the lookout for people with infectious disease . . . or the vampires they believe are responsible. Domingo is a teenager who lives on the street. He ekes out an existence by going through garbage and finding things worthy to salvage, keep, or sell. His life becomes entangled with that of Atl's, a vampire of ancient Aztec origins, when she pays him to willingly let her feed off him. She assumes their run-in will be a one-off, but he keeps coming back. She contemplates killing him, but the truth is she needs help--she's on the run. Nick, another vampire who hails from Europe, is after her, along with his father's employee, Rodrigo. Nick and his father aim to kill her, yet another episode in the dark and bloody history between her family and theirs. In the meantime, Ana, a detective miserable in her job and longing to get out. reluctantly becomes involved in trying to foil all their plans.
I don't usually read the horror genre, especially not stories as gory as this one, but I wasn't able to put this book down. I was fascinated with the alternate reality Silvia Moreno-Garcia created, and the decision to create several subspecies of vampires, rather than just have the classic Dracula-esque monsters, was brilliant. I loved how vampire folklore from all around the world was used to inspire several different "breeds" of vampires, especially the supposed Aztec origins to Atl's people. None of the characters were particularly good people and it was difficult to root for any of them, but the plot was so complex, I still found myself on the edge of my seat, eager to see what was going to happen next. The pacing drug for the first half/two-thirds, which is what brings my rating down a star--it took me over a week to read the first 60%, while I finished the remaining 40% in less than a day. I'm definitely interested to read more work from this author.
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my review.