Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2016)
Fiction | Paranormal Thriller
Welcome 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?”
pooled ink Review:
Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month (in the U.S.)!! Today I have a review about a book that takes place in Mexico written by a Mexican author!
This book has been SUCH AN ORDEAL to get my hands on! SERIOUSLY. I had it on my TBR but come on, you know how that goes. You put a million books on your to-be-read list and really only ever read a small fraction of them. Well, I was in the mood for vampires during COVID-19 and I pulled out my TBR on Goodreads, saw this title, and thought “Perfect!” Well it was not perfect because I could not find a copy of this book ANYWHERE. I searched local bookstores, online bookstores, used book sites, new book sites, book swaps, EVERYWHERE. I even contacted both the author and publisher directly! Officially the book was apparently “out of print” but when has that ever stopped the used book sites?? This book DID NOT EXIST. It felt like a straight up conspiracy haha. I mean it had some really good reviews, even some raves from best-selling authors such as:
I have simply never ever had such a difficult time trying to hunt down a copy of a book that was a recent release (yes in case you missed it at the top of this post, Certain Dark Things was published only four years ago in 2016!) and had such big names singing its praise. I decided that clearly the author had used some legit source material and thus the Mexican vampire gangs put a stop to her book making money off of them and risking their exposure. I mean, anything could be the story behind this because nothing felt like it really made sense lol.
Sure the simple truth is that the publishing imprint closed down so they stopped publishing copies of the book, the rights reverted to the author and thus any future edition remained in the balance, and as Moreno-Garcia is a comparatively lesser known author (though she’s been gaining a lot of traction of late) not as many books were likely pre-printed for sale therefore there were already a smaller number of copies loose in the market. But…that’s a really boring explanation of why this book disappeared from this reality.
ANYWAY, eventually my super awesome public library managed to hunt down a copy at another library who knows where and borrowed it so that I could finally read this rare artifact, this mystical gem, this tome lost to legend and myth. So now, without further ado, here is my review of the most highly anticipated and hyped book I have EVER HUNTED DOWN.
I give iiiiiiit…3 Stars out of 5.
I LOVE the concept (or else I would never have exhausted so much energy into getting my hands on a copy), but the execution felt a bit…slow?
5 Star idea.
2.5 Star result.
3 Stars overall.
The concept is there, the world, the characters, the chase…Certain Dark Things has all of the ingredients for a thrilling, gritty, addictive novel full of vampires, gangs, and rogue cops all circling the city with the taste of blood in their senses and yet…and yet it somehow unfolds almost lifeless. It’s missing that certain spark that takes a great idea and injects it into your veins until your brain lights up. Still a good read to be sure, and I love that it took place in Mexico (very cool and refreshing idea), but it fell shy of a 5-star read for me because I just. Didn’t. Care.
It didn’t quite make me feel much of anything despite intellectually loving everything about the concept. This book sounds freaking epic, no? And there was action, a race against time, criminals, vampires, battles, rival gangs, family feuds, shoot outs, etc. Maybe if I try reading it again later (and not in the gross, humid, hot, summer sun. Blehhh.) it’ll click, but for this first round it felt very… “middle of the road.” I didn’t necessarily dislike it, but I’m also not shoving the book into my friends’ faces demanding they read it.
And the same goes for the “romance” plot line. It felt totally unbelievable and sudden to me because for almost the entire book Domingo is like a bashful lovestruck child and Atl is totally disinterested though eventually she does begin to become somewhat fond of him in a similar fashion to the way one becomes fond of a friendly face or the stray cat that shows up sometimes for the milk you put outside on your back step. But the declarations of love that eventually pop up?? Nah, I didn’t buy that. Ridiculous.
I just wish I felt more, was able to connect with the characters and the world more, because that ending is a super badass showdown finale and yet because I struggled to feel connected or invested in anyone/thing it was just like “Oh that’s kinda cool I guess.” Nothing felt epic or tragic though I could tell it was supposed to. Like I said, the ideas are all there but the execution just missed the mark. For me anyway.
But hey, ignore my nonsense. If you want a fresh take on vampires without the inane teenage drama that normally clogs the genre then definitely try to get your hands on a copy of this one. A great read for those who are into gritty cop shows but interested in giving the paranormal genre a try.
Certain Dark Things stands on its own and deserves to be resurrected for a second chance at making waves in the book world. Just, maybe pick up the pace a bit? And throw in some more character development? Otherwise I’m 100% behind getting this book back on the shelves!
Purchase here: Certain Dark Things GOOD LUCK.
Meet Silvia Moreno-Garcia!
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of several novels, including Gods of Jade and Shadow. She has also edited a number of anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows (a.k.a. Cthulhu’s Daughters). Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination.
Wrote this review a few months ago and then stumbled across this announcement on Goodreads so now you no longer have to be as frustrated as I was! I won’t edit my review though because it reflects my genuine feelings at the time haha but I wanted to include this update to give the rest of you hope! (Though suspiciously it wasn’t until AFTER I’d spent months hunting this book down that suddenly I’m getting notifications from used book sites saying they now have a copy for sale…very suspicious…haha). https://tornightfire.com/announcing-the-resurrection-of-certain-dark-things-by-silvia-moreno-garcia/