Genre: Urban Fantasy, Literary
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books on October 25, 2016
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
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.
Lately I’ve been loving the “5 Reasons to Read” posts by Becky at A Fool’s Ingenuity and Nick and Nereyda from Nick and Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist, and I wanted to try my hand at it. Without further ado, here are 5 reasons to read CERTAIN DARK THINGS, the beautifully written dark urban fantasy novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia!
1. Mexico City
While many other countries in the world have strict regulation and anti-vampire laws, Mexico is a country teeming with vampires who run the drug and gun operations…except in Mexico City. Ruled by the human gangs, Mexico City is free of vampires…until Atl, the young heiress apparent of a vampire empire shows up in town. Born and raised in Mexico, Moreno-Garcia brings the complex city to life. She presents a city with a huge gulf between the wealthy and those living in extreme poverty, rampant violence, and corrupt officials without obscuring the city’s vibrant culture and rich history.
2. Atl Iztac
With ancestry dating back to the Aztecs, Atl is as close as it gets to vampire royalty. Her species of vamp was once worshipped in Mexico for their unique, bird-like abilities, a skill set which makes her an expert at a quick getaway — which is good, because she’s on the run from a rival vampire family. Once a spoiled, self-indulgent party girl, Atl’s had to grow up very quickly to survive. Tough and manipulative, Atl is capable of incredible violence and cruelty. But underneath that, she’s a profoundly lonely young woman desperately trying to cling to her life.
3. Domingo Molina
Enter Domingo, a street kid who picks through garbage for salvageable items to make enough money to survive. Despite the harsh hand he’s been dealt, Domingo is a sweet, almost painfully naive guy who in some ways seems much younger than his 17 years. I just wanted to give him a hug and protect him from the darkness in the world. Constantly taken advantage of and relentlessly drawn to bad girls, it’s not long before he runs into Atl and she takes him under her wing – for a price. In exchange for his blood and running her daylight errands, Domingo gets money and protection from Atl. But as Atl teaches Domingo how to survive, Domingo is teaching Atl how to feel…which could be the undoing of them both.
4. Vampire Lore
I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way Atl can be an original take on vampires. Well, you’re wrong — and she’s not the only one. The cast of characters includes at least three different species of vampire, each more unique than the last. From vampires that feed on human blood and infect their victims with a kind of STD that puts them under the vamp’s control before their demise to those that feed on the life energy of humans and vamps alike, Moreno-Garcia flawlessly reinvents the vampire.
5. Standalone Fantasy
Ah yes, the magic words. In something of a publishing miracle, CERTAIN DARK THINGS is a pitch-perfect standalone urban fantasy that comes in at less than 400 pages. If you’re a fantasy lover who’s tired of getting sucked into the problem of the never ending series, then this standalone is for you. From nuanced, non-Western world building to nuanced characters to a high-octane plot, CERTAIN DARK THINGS delivers it all. Rejoice!
Far and away one of my favourite reads of 2016 CERTAIN DARK THINGS is a must read for everyone, regardless of their genre preferences. It’s that good, y’all.