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Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia #BookReview

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a pulse-pounding neo-noir that reimagines vampire lore.

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?

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Certain Dark Things | Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Publisher: Tor Nightfire | Pub Date: 7/9/2021 (original: 25/10/2016) | Pages: 272 | ISBN13: 9781250785589 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Source: NetGalley | Starred Review

Certain Dark Things Review

 Certain Dark Things shines when focused on the two primary characters, Atl and Domingo. Both of them are troubled and compelling and make you want to root for them to get a good outcome. Domingo’s had a troubled life, and it’s easy to want better for him. With Atl, perhaps it’s her candor about the fact that she isn’t good that makes her likeable. Atl’s at war within herself, as much as she’s at war with other vampires. Her guilt and her need to survive and her unstated sense of right and wrong are all conflicting within her, which makes her both endearing and unpredictable.

The book starts with a steady pace. Moreno-Garcia doesn’t feel the need to rush the development; rather, she lays the foundation for the story and there’s a growing sense of tension as you approach the point where characters will intersect and outcomes will be decided. While Atl and Domingo certainly aren’t perfect, there was never a sense that this was a story of flawed characters, where readers might choose to root for someone else. There’s always the sense this is who we should want to make it to the end. While Rodrigo and Ana were somewhat likeable, far too much time was spent with Atl and Domingo to invest in others. The real tension never seemed to be about who the good guys were that the reader should root for, but rather what kind of outcome to hope Atl and Domingo would get. Their desires were at odds, and as much as Atl liked Domingo, there was always the awareness that she was a threat to him. If you wanted Domingo to survive, you had to want his heart to break. 

As for Nick, he was pretty one-dimensional. Typical bad guy. And perhaps readers needed that to be able to root for Atl, in spite of some of the things she’d done.

There are multiple POV characters in this story, although readers spend the most time with Atl and Domingo. The benefit of all the perspectives is seeing the threads weave together. The down side is the distraction from the primary focus. Ana is, perhaps, a little underdeveloped. Shifting into her POV sections was a bit abrupt, particularly because readers spend a limited amount of time with her.

Overall, Certain Dark Things is an engaging vampire story that hooks and holds readers throughout and builds to a satisfying climax.

You can purchase a copy of this book via your normal retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. It can be found here at Indiebound or at Bookshop. Please note the Bookshop link is an affiliate link and each purchase you make through it helps to support Sci-Fi & Scary and keep the site running.

Content Warnings

Common use of the word ‘moron’ – I’m not a fan and the sentiment could have been expressed without using a word that has offensive connotations. 

The dog is tattooed and enhanced. I’m not convinced that was necessary for the story. I think Ana could have zeroed in on her target just from the presence of an unlicensed Doberman. Some readers will consider the tattooing animal abuse.

Additionally, there are references to dog fights, although those aren’t shown.

Obviously, it’s a vampire book, so expect some blood and violence.

Published inBook ReviewsHorror Book Reviews

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