Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.
Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.
Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?
Thank you to Jo Fletcher Books for the review copy. I can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Yes, I’m back reviewing ANOTHER Moreno-Garcia book and I’m sure you will all be shocked when I say I loved it. Certain Dark Things is the perfect blend of fantasy, horror and noir, with vivid characters and set in a Mexico City that became a character in and of itself.
Domingo is a street kid looking for his next meal when he finds Atl, a beautiful and mysterious girl who invites him back to her place… only Domingo might in fact be her meal. Atl is a Vampire, a member of the ancient Aztec clan and she’s on the run. A feud between her clan and the Godoy’s, a rival Vampire gang, ended in the death of Atl’s mother and sister and led to her running for her life. But it’s not just the Vampires she has to be careful of, the gangs of Mexico City aren’t happy to hear blood suckers have returned to their streets and they’re out for blood. Atl will have to rely on humans and Vampires alike if she is to make it out of Mexico City alive.
Certain Dark Things is told from multiple perspectives: Atl, a Tlahuihpotchtli, a race of Vampires that goes back to before the Aztecs. Domingo, a lonely street kid trying to stay out of trouble and gather garbage to pay for his next meal. Nick Godoy, a Necro, a more traditional style of Vampire with sharp teeth and pale skin. Rodrigo, a Renfield, a companion to Nick’s father who has been sent to hunt down Atl. And Ana Aguirre, a cop and past Vampire killer who is investigating the death of a young woman. While all these characters play a pivotal part in the story and add to the atmosphere and tension, Certain Dark Things is Atl and Domingo’s story.
Atl is used to comfort, never wondering where her next meal will come from, but now that she’s on the run all that changes. She has to learn where to place her trust, and though the voice of her sister is telling her that a human is not someone she can trust, Atl see’s something in Domingo that she understands. He is naive and enamoured with her, but he also knows the city inside and out, something that Atl knows will come to use. They are both on their own, both looking for a way out of the holes they are in, they just need to learn to trust one another.
I loved the twist on the trope of male vampire/ innocent female lover. It was so interesting seeing the shift in power dynamic. Domingo’s life on the street made him the perfect person to become a Vampire’s assistant, his desperation for solidity, for something regular ensures his loyalty, and while Atl does take advantage of this, she also see’s the strength in it. They are both looking for something the other can’t provide; Domingo, a relationship that will last and Atl someone to take some of her pain away, someone she can lean on. Though the romance doesn’t play a large part in the plot, I did love how Moreno-Garcia progressed it throughout the story, and felt it was written extremely well.
With Certain Dark Things, Moreno-Garcia introduces us to her world of Vampires expertly. There are a multitude of different races from Atl’s Tlahuihpotchtli clan of matriarchal run shape shifters, to the Godoy’s Necro style who can control people’s minds by sharing their blood. Lovers of Vampire lore will notice the little nod’s to tales of old, but she manages to make Certain Dark Things and the Vampires that inherit it completely her own. Moreno-Garcia uses folklore/mythology reference to give us the understanding of why each vampire race is different than the rest, and has an epic glossary at the back with a more detailed description of each type of Vampire and the historical reference’s she drew from for them. As well as this she explains how different countries dealt with the realisation of Vampires, and how exactly they came to be expelled from Mexico City. As usual her world building is sublime and her use of Mexico City as almost a character of it’s own, the descriptive writing she uses to bring it to life, make for a unique read.
Certain Dark Things is perfect for those looking for something a little extra in their Vampire novels. While Moreno-Garcia brings certain tropes that we know and love into the story, the addition of gang style violence, her use of Vampire races and the colonialism references that come with it and her expertise in writing unique and complicated characters make sure that it will stand out in the genre. She manages to blend together multiple genres to make a dark and sometimes gruesome novel, that any horror fans will be sure to love. Another book by the author that just proves her writing prowess and her ability to jump between genres with ease.