For What It's Worth

Thursday, February 15, 2018

review: certain dark things by Silvia moreno-garcia


Certain Dark Things HC Mech.inddWelcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…

Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life.


Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, must feast on the young to survive and Domingo looks especially tasty. Smart, beautiful, and dangerous, Atl needs to escape to South America, far from the rival narco-vampire clan pursuing her. Domingo is smitten.


Her plan doesn’t include developing any real attachment to Domingo. Hell, the only living creature she loves is her trusty Doberman. Little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his effervescent charm.


And then there’s Ana, a cop who suddenly finds herself following a trail of corpses and winds up smack in the middle of vampire gang rivalries.


Vampires, humans, cops, and gangsters collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive?
Goodreads

Source: I donated to the authors Indiegogo crowdfund campaign for the book and a finished copy was my reward.

Review:

Certain Dark Things has been on my shelf for almost two years and was one of my TBR books that I was determined to read this year. I was expecting an ultra violent, dark take on vampires but it was quite different. This story is more of a slower paced, character focused novel with multiple POV’s. It's steeped in vampire folklore and mythology and set in an alternate history Mexico City. And yeah – there was a lot of throat ripping too! lol

I love me some gore but what Moreno-Garcia does best here is explore the various species and hierarchies of the vampires in a refreshing way, showing their different origins and motivations while they are still connected through one driving force - their hunger.

Atl is a sub species of vampire, a Tlāhuihpochtlin, with Aztec origins, who partners with street kid and garbage collector, Domingo, to outrun a gang of Necros vampires that murdered her family.

Domingo’s complete naivete, faith and loyalty in Atl is in contrast to her dueling desires to protect or kill him. There’s a touch of romance but I wouldn't necessarily even call it romantic. It's sweet and an interesting dynamic but if you need a traditional HEA or think of this as romance novel you might be disappointed.

As Atl’s friend, Bernardino, a Reverent vampire, explains to dissuade the pair – it’s always about the hunger and ignoring that will get one or both of them killed eventually.

The main focus and pov’s are of Atl and Domingo but we also get the pov’s of Ana Aguirre ( a nod to one of my favorite authors - Ann Aguirre!), a cop and single mom trying to rid Mexico City of vampires to make a better life for her daughter, Nico, a vampire and gangster with an obsession to hurt Atl, Rodrigo, a human that works for Nico’s dad and is hired to keep Nico under control and bring Atl in.

That many pov’s doesn’t usually work for me but they blended seamlessly in this case – building on the story and providing another window to this world.

All five have differing levels of morality and there’s a grey line of which some cross. It’s up to the reader to decide if it was for a just cause.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away because really, it’s a simple story of gangs & turf wars and being on the run but Moreno-Garcia’s fascinating twist on the vampire genre and moral complexity makes this a clever take. And it's a stand alone - so no cliffhangers! Although, I could easily see there being more stories from this world.

I would recommend this book to people who like The Others series by Anne Bishop. It's a totally different subject matter and world but similar to Bishop's slower pace and unraveling of her world/ characters and understated romances - and to fans of Sunshine by Robin McKinley - where the human/vampire relationship is complex and you don't necessarily get the end you want but the one that works for the characters - a touch bittersweet.

27 comments:

  1. I've seen this book around but I never read the blurb even though the cover is stunning but it sounds interesting!

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    1. She writes in a lot of genres as well which I love. I've heard good things about Signal to Noise and The Beautiful Ones and think I'm going to try those next.

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  2. Wow, this sounds like a unique take on the vampire sub-genre. Is this a standalone novel? The comparison to Bishop’s The Others series definitely has me intrigued because I love everything about that series.

    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

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    1. Yes! I thought I had that it was a stand alone in my review. I think I'll add it.

      This is totally different than Bishop's series but I found the way the plot unfolds - slowly with multiple viewpoints and moral issues to be similar.

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  3. Ooh interesting. I used to read a lot of vampire books, but I feel like I don't see them around as much. I'm glad the various point of views worked for you too!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I know. I haven't read one in years! This was a really unique take on it too.

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  4. Sounds interesting. I love vampires, but I've never really read a traditional vampire tale except for Sunshine, which I don't know if it qualifies. I wonder if I'd like this or not?

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    1. I loved Sunshine! This is a bit more vampire-ish than that but I thought it explored similar themes and had that bittersweet ending that Sunshine had.

      How are you with gore? This is still a pretty violent vampire book.

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  5. I dig the setting, love the pacing and character-driven? You talking my language! I can't wait to read this one, and do you typically read urban fantasy?

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    1. That's all I used to read! Then PNR, then YA and a contemporary kick. I'm all over the place right now though.

      I hope you like it Amber (but it's ok if you don't lol)

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  6. I keep meaning to buy this and to read it. I think I even featured it way back when and then forgot about again. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. I did. It's a slower pace but if you can handle that.

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  7. Vampires. I do love anything with vampires and this sounds like a good one

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  8. Color me intrigued, I'll add it to my TBR. Thank you!

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  9. It's only February so I say that goal worked out well

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    1. I've actually gotten through at least 3 TBR books so far!

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  10. I can't remember the last time I'd read a vampire novel, it's been that long. They all start to sound the same after a while but I'm.really intrigued by this one, exploring vampire lore and mythology. Usually they're more sappy romance or vampires that sparkle. That cover is absolutely divine! Brilliant review Karen and thank you for putting this on my radar <3

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    1. While there are some romantic elements - this is not a romance and definitely no sparkling vampires lol

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  11. You make this seem like a really interesting read. I haven't read this book but the author has been on my TBR list for a while. I see plenty of folks have enjoyed this book and I know it's one I will probably enjoy. It's always good when an author takes their own individual take on a well known thing, like this with vampires.

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    1. I gather all of her books are from different genres and really good so there's probably something for whatever grabs your attention. But I was most curious about reading something a little original when it came to vampires.

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  12. Sounds like a great book! It's funny, I can read gory details, but I can't stand to see gory movies. I guess I can tame the gore to my liking when I read lol

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    1. As I get older, I'm having more of a problem watching gore which is weird - it has never bothered me before.

      It's true with reading though. You can skim a little or I guess imagine it a little less gory.

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  13. Diff species of vampires, that's not something you see often, but it's an idea that has been growing on me. I have to admit I'm a little confused by all the POVs, but I'm intrigued by the dynamic between the two main ones and the gray morality!

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    1. Once I get over 2-3 pov's I usually get confused or pulled out of the story but I think it' worked in this book. They each had something unique to add to the story and made it better imo.

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  14. Oooo that sounds interesting. I think I could get into this one for sure.

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