Title: Certain Dark Things
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★☆ | 3.5
After humans discover the existence of vampires in the 1960s, they’ve been pushed out into the open, slowly taking over drug trafficking and fighting over control of territories. After the fighting between her clan and the Godoys leaves Atl’s family dead, she flees to Mexico City, pursued by the scion of the Godoy family. But Mexico City is a vampire-free zone, and they’re both being pursued by veteran cop Ana Aguire, who is sick of dealing with both the bureaucracy and they body count in Nick Godoy’s wake.
Then there’s Domingo, who’s been surviving on his own since his stepdad kicked him out years ago. He’s infatuated with Atl, who, despite not having the time for it, feels strangely attracted to this earnest, naive boy.
This is another one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” books, because there’s nothing I can point out that I specifically about this book that I didn’t like, but the voice just wasn’t connecting, because I mostly read YA, and adult novels feel really alienating, especially when one of the protagonists is male (and his gaze was often objectifying, and that’s just not something I Relate to), even when they’re in genres I enjoy. I felt like I was reading for the sake of reading than because I actually really enjoyed it, and I didn’t really connect emotionally with a lot of the characters. Which is good when we’re talking about Nick Godoy, and less good when we’re talking about Domingo.
Moreno-Garcia’s writing is very competent, but I found it incredibly dry even though her take on vampires is really cool. And the plot, despite technically having a lot of action scenes. I did like the resolution, and I liked that the novel was the story of two people in a quasi-dystopia that wasn’t about the dystopia more than it was about them.
The way Domingo’s and Atl’s relationship developed and was ultimately resolved, full of moral and emotional greys, is something I specifically look for in stories like these, because I’m really uninterested in relationships with power gaps that ignore those imbalances or never address them.
So overall, this wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t my kind of book. There were a few things that bothered me (for instance, the categorisation of jiangshi as a type of vampire that was completely assimilated into Moreno-Garcia’s worldbuilding, which to an extent I understand, but not when it completely rid jiangshi of their Daoist and Chinese folk religious significance. This wasn’t something I really noticed with the other types vampires though, but that might be my lack of familiarity with Aztec religion and other vampiric traditions), but overall, it was neither badly-written nor all that offensive, I just ended up not being all that into it.