I honestly can’t say that I’ve read a lot of vampire related books – the genre typically didn’t interest me as much several years ago, but after reading Certain Dark Things, I can’t understand why I have felt that way. It was a bit out of my usual genres, but for some reason (maybe it was that stunning red, black, and white cover), I was drawn to reading it, and wow, I was not at all disappointed. It was one of those books that was like a huge game changer for me – I spent so long with absolutely no interest in reading books in this genre, and after reading it, I just want to read more of them. But I have a feeling none are going to come close to how quickly I fell in love with Certain Dark Things. No, this one earned a spot on my favorites shelf, and I’m sure to read it again multiple times in the future.
Domingo is a garbage collecting seventeen year old kid who lives on the streets – he deals with it, and for the most part, he’s not a bad kid at all. Things aren’t all that bad for him, but they are lonely. When he meets a beautiful girl, things change for him. He finds himself drawn to her – she seems dark, aloof, and like she could really make his life seem better. He tries to get to know her, despite her constantly trying to tell him that she has no interest in being his friend.
Atl is a vampire on the run with a dark past that she is trying to leave behind. Hiding out in Mexico City, which has been declared a vampire free city, she is constantly hiding from sanitation, who will remove her if she is found. Her past isn’t something she likes to dwell on, but she knows she can’t escape it. When Domingo shows up and tries to befriend her, she has no interest in getting to know him at all – he will only complicate her already overly complicated life, and she wants none of it. But she does need blood to survive, and he’s there…
When things start to get complicated and other vampires show up to make sure Atl suffers for what she has done and the family she is part of, Atl must decide what to do, and fast – and if keeping Domingo around might be beneficial after all.
I’m not going to lie – this book was a tad overwhelming at first, because I had absolutely no idea what half of the terms meant – but I discovered the handy glossary in the back, and things tend to be explained along to way, so I have no complaints. Also, let me tell you that this book goes beyond any vampire related things that I knew…so many different types of vampires, rules for them, and interesting terms to refer to them. But as I pointed out, there is a glossary in the back of the book, and it’s fantastic, so I referred to it quite often while reading.
As far as characters go, I found myself really liking Atl; she was mysterious and aloof, and tried not to form attachments even though it seemed kind of inevitable. The more I read this, the more I liked her character. I also thought Domingo was a pretty nifty character, too, and he and Atl made a good combination.
This is definitely not a young adult book, and there are a lot of really dark parts that I thought were kind of graphic, but it didn’t bother me all that much (just pointing it out since it might bother some, but then again, it is a book about vampires so I’m guessing it’s to be expected).
There was so much action in this book – it’s told from four perspectives, and since it’s all in the third person in terms of narration, it makes it easy to keep track of. Atl and Domingo are two of the lead characters, and then there is a vampire from a rival family, Nick, who is trying his hardest to find and hurt Atl for something that happened in the past. Then we have a detective on the police force who is trying to figure out what is going on in the city, and who is responsible for the string of vampire-related murders that is happening. All of them have their own parts to play in the novel, and while I found it very difficult to get into the chapters that featured Nick, the others were absolutely amazing. I don’t know why I didn’t like Nick’s chapters, but I just couldn’t get into his character as much as the others. This in no way ruined the book for me, since it was so minor of a problem on my part; I just found Atl and Domingo’s chapters so much more interesting (and I was all for a potential blossoming relationship here).
The ending of the book, while I thought it was pretty decent, made me kind of sad, and I wasn’t expecting it in the slightest. I was really hoping it would have ended a little differently than it did, so I was bummed about that. It does make me wonder if there is going to be another book (kind of hoping there will be something else in store for these characters in the future). Either way, it was such an amazing read, and I have to recommend this to everyone – even if you aren’t a fan of the subject matter (that was me until I read this book, and I absolutely loved it, so give it a shot!).
About the Author
Q&A with Silva Moreno-Garcia
Certain Dark Things sounds like such a dark, complex fantasy…where did you come up with the idea for it?
I wrote a story for a vampire anthology which was the genesis for this. I’ve written a few vampire short stories, all different. Certain Dark Things, it was a bit of a love letter to the old Mexican noir films and also to German Robles, who was in the film El Vampiro, which I watched when I was a kid.
What do you think is the most appealing paranormal creature?
I’m going to say the nahual, a Mexican witch who can turn into an animal. They’re supposed to be just awful, terrible people, so that’s interesting. The motivations of creatures of folklore are more basic that the ones in printed literature, aren’t they? Curse people, kill people, for the fun of it.
Were you afraid of vampires as a child?
No. They sounded cool. I also have a visceral fear of death so I’d be very happy to live forever, even if it involved the occasional murder.
What kinds of things do you need to write (snacks, tea, music, etc.)?
Nothing. I write in my head on the bus or make notes during lunchtime, and then put it down when I get home, after my children have gone to bed. If you need to write, you write.
What made you want to write fantasy?
I have never been comfortable with the divisions between fantasy and literature. I wanted to write, period, and some of it can be classified as fantasy and some of it falls more squarely in the literary side.