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Certain Dark Things a Worthy Vampire Tale
Posted By Billzilla On June 30, 2019 @ 4:39 pm In Fiction | No Comments
Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Certain Dark Things, about a Mexican vampire on the run from gangs, the police, and rival vampires trying to wipe out her family.
The story begins with Domingo, a teen-aged picker who makes his living going through garbage to find things to salvage and sell. On his way to work, he sees a striking young woman on the train, and he finds himself smitten — even obsessed — with this strange young woman walking a rather vicious-looking dog.
Certain Dark Things takes its cue from a lot of vampire mythology that has gone before. She has different varieties of vampires in this world — some competing, some cooperating, most ignoring each other — and takes time to explore a bit of the history behind the different species. How they came to be in Mexico is dealt with simply and elegantly: vampires were “discovered” in Europe and elsewhere in the late 20th Century, and most municipalities quickly created laws making vampirism illegal, driving them to places where they could bribe their way in-country and find a safe place to be left alone. This created a fair bit of tension, as many of these semi-safe havens already had vampires living there, creating fierce competition for elbow room.
Domingo follows Atl to her apartment – little more than a squatter’s haven in a run-down apartment building. Domingo himself lives in an abandoned sewer pipe underground, so Atl’s place doesn’t seem so bad to him. All didn’t intend for Domingo to discover where she lives, and, knowing she’s being hunted, she debates whether or not to let this kid live. She decides he could be more useful as her gofer, and together they work at scratching out a living in Mexico City, one of many cities forbidden to vampires, despite the nation’s overall tolerant stance.
Despite her Aztec heritage, Atl is out of her element in Mexico City. She knows almost know one in town, is being hunted by rival vampires that killed her family to gain control of their home region in northern Mexico, and her resources are running thin. In a scene reminiscent of the climax of the film The Professional, heavily-armed forces of drug lords surround her apartment with her and Atl inside, having been tipped off to Atl’s nature and her presence in Mexico City by Atl’s rivals and by a cop with a reputation from taking down vampires. Atl, Domingo, and Atl’s dog have to fight their way out of the apartment and run for cover. Domingo turns to a shady friend for help in treating Atl’s silver-infected injuries, and they must find new allies quickly if they are to survive.
Certain Dark Things is a well-crafted tale, with action, suspense and even a little romance. The vampires are a mixed bag: some terrifying and manipulative, some noble and haunting, and all of them have their own agendas and little loyalty for anyone else. I was completely engulfed in this story —something I haven’t enjoyed from a novel is some time— and felt that the money to purchase this book had been well-spent indeed. I splurged on the hardcover; the trade paperback version is not available as of this writing, but I encourage you to seek it out with all due haste regardless. It is a refreshing take on the vampire novel, and only strong sales will make sure we see more of this type of work in the future, both from Ms. Moreno-Garcia, and from other such talented writers.
Rating: Five out of five stars
Certain Dark Things
Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press
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