5 Reasons to Read: Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-GarciaCertain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Literary

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books on October 25, 2016

Source: Publisher

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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.

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 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.

Have you read CERTAIN DARK THINGS yet? What’s your favourite under-hyped book of 2016? Let me know in the comments!

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  • I remember seeing this book around its publication time, but I’d not seen it before then! Which is a shame, because I definitely would have made room for publicity for it, before its pub date. It sounds incredible! Not just the setting or the culture, but the story and world-building. I’m so glad you enjoyed this book, Danya!

    Wonderful review. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • There are so many interesting, diverse stories coming out this year, but I feel like if they’re not YA I hardly hear about them! Who wouldn’t want to read a book about vampires, set in Mexico, and written by a woman of colour?? I loved this so much. I’m desperate to get my hands on a copy of “Signal to Noise,” Moreno-Garcia’s first novel.

      Thanks Alyssa! 🙂

  • One of my favorite books this year! You nailed all the cool elements in your review, and I’m going to go back and read Signal to Noise as soon as I can.

    • Same! I’m SO glad I requested this one, because I almost didn’t. Yes, me too! I really want to see how Signal to Noise compares to Certain Dark Things.

  • Wow — a standalone fantasy! It’s so rare to see fantasy stories that get neatly wrapped up these days. I always feel so betrayed when I read a trilogy and get to the end of the third book, only to read, “PREVIEW CHAPTER FOR THE FOURTH INSTALMENT OF .”

    • Haha, I know right? You want to talk betrayal, at least you were never invested in Clare’s “The Immortal Instruments” series. That one was supposed to be a trilogy and then ended up being six books in total!

  • Never heard of this but as a hispanic, the Mexico setting appeals to me. I also love Urban Fantasy.

    Nereyda│ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist

    • I’m glad I could spread the word! Urban fantasy is awesome, but it’s pretty white, which is why I was so happy to discover this one. 🙂

  • Wow, I’m putting this on my to-buy list. It sounds really interesting, especially the standalone part!
    I haven’t read that many vampire novels in recent years, after going through a long vampire phase. So a new take on them sounds particularly intriguing. Thanks for putting this on my radar!

    • Well to be fair, “standalone” is the magic word for you! 😉 I really hope you like this one Kaja — it’s one of my favourites of 2016, hands down. I did the same thing with dystopians, eventually I needed to go on a detox from them before I could read more, haha. 🙂

  • It sounds difference, for once when it comes to vamps

    • It definitely is! I was particularly excited to read about vampires who weren’t European (or white).

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    Vampires – true vampires, of the scary, bloodsucking kind – are always a fascinating subject, and if they are painted from a new angle, this makes them even more interesting. This novel sounds like a delightfully chilling story, and one not to be missed, indeed…

    • I couldn’t agree more! I’ve heard people say that this book reminds them of Interview With a Vampire in the sense that it completely turns the vampire story on its head, which I think is a pretty fair assessment. Hopefully you have time to pick this one up Maddalena, because I’m sure you’d love it!

  • Those are some great reasons there! As soon as Sci-Fi November is over, I’m going to start something I call “Catch-up December”, lol. This one will be high priority.

    • Yes! Glad to see that the “5 Reasons” thing worked when I tried it, because it almost always works on me. 😉 Hahahaha, “Catch-Up December” is so accurate…

  • Well, I’m definitely convinced! I’m always happy to read a new spin on vampires, and everything I’ve read about this books sounds good.

    • Yaaaaaay! I really hope you like it, Lorraine. I’ve been wanting to read and recommend more books by authors of colour, so I was ecstatic when I ended up loving this one. 🙂

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Yes. I need to read this one!

    • Yes you do! 😉 I think you’d really like it Lisa — it has a cool, creepy vibe to it.

  • Sign me up. I am all over wanting to read this.

    See, 5 reasons totally convinces people to get reading. I don’t know why, but it does. Five is the magic number when it comes to convincing folks about books and you have done it with great success.

    WHo knew someone could actually have an original take on vampires? I thought every angle had been covered but obviously not. Also, I love when different cultures get included in a book and turns out Latin American mythology is something I know nothing of and seriously want to read about in books. I just want to read this especially as it’s a standalone. Standalone fantasy is the holy grail in the bookish world isn’t it?

    • Yaaaaaay!

      It totally does! I’m actually shocked by how well this worked, haha. I wonder if it’s just a more digestible way to get the highlights of a book? And I guess it focuses more on the positives than the negatives (not that there were any with this book, haha).

      Silvia Moreno-Garcia might actually be a genius, haha. Or at the very least, an author to watch. Same! The only other fantasy novel I’ve read with Latin American mythology is Labyrinth Lost and I’m obsessed with it, so clearly I need to put more effort into finding these types of stories. Standalone fantasy is everything! Especially when the world building is on point despite a low page count.

      • I think you might be right, highlighting the positives really does make it easier to convince folks to read something but it doesn’t feel like you’re highlighting the positives because you’re remembering why you’re loving it.

        And stop with you’re hyping of that book. I’m reading Labyrinth Lost seriously soon because otherwise I’ll end up convincing myself out of it.

  • Cool review! And you’ve convinced me I need to get this one. I’m interested to see this take on vampire lore and to see how it may differ. 🙂 Thanks!

    • Thanks, Di! I can’t take credit for the format, but I do love the “5 Reasons” approach and I think I’ll use it more often. You’re welcome! I hope you love it, too. 🙂

  • Lynn Williams

    Yes! *air punch* I love it. So excited that you loved this too – I thought it was brilliant. Just everything and ditto to all of the above. And what about the glossary, I read that actually anticipating a regular glossary so I love that it’s written as though everything is real! So, so good.
    Lynn 😀 *high fives*

    • I loved this SO much! It took me completely by surprise, but it’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read all year. I need to check out the author’s backlist ASAP.

      OMG YES! The glossary was so cool. I really loved Moreno-Garcia’s take on Skinwalkers. *applauds the glossary* *high fives back*

  • WOWW !!! I’m glad you enjoyed and loved this so much, I am immediately adding it to my TBR after that glowing review! Thanks for bringing it so my attention!
    Tori @ In Tori Lex

    • *fist pump* My work here is done! Hahaha. Seriously though, I loved this book so much. It was a really refreshing change of pace and very well written to boot!