by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publisher: Tor Nightfire
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
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?
That cover is gorgeous! And hey, who doesn’t want to read a book about a vampire and her glowing dog?
“Bribes could buy almost anything back north, but this was not the North. This was good old Mexico City, which had fallen to the Spaniards but would not yield to vampires.”
In this alternate world, vampires were revealed to the world in the 1970s, leading to political upheaval all over the world. While the rest of Mexico may be controlled by various vampire gangs, Mexico City has only the staunchly human variety. Vampires aren’t allowed within the city, and this is enforced by various health checks and general human nosiness. But when the Godoy vampire family massacres a Northern Mexico clan of vampires, the sole survivor flees to the city, leading other vampires – and a bloodbath – straight to several unsuspecting humans.
“We are not very nice creatures. You are foolish to seek the company of vampires. Have you any idea what I am talking about?”
“Humans are not very nice either,” Domingo said.”
The POV switches between multiple disparate characters: Domingo, the street kid who’s enchanted by the beautiful woman he meets on the subway; Atl, the vampire running for her life; Rodrigo, who’s accompanying Nick, the spoiled Godoy heir, to kill Atl; and Ana, the detective who gets mixed up in all this due to one of Nick’s impetuous kills. I absolutely adored Atl, who’s spent much of her life as the younger sister of the heir apparent partying it up and generally shirking any form of responsibility. Friendless and on the run, she has no choice but to accept Domingo’s help. Domingo is, frankly, ridiculously naive and he falls for the beautiful Atl quickly, which causes him to make, well, some particularly dumb choices. He’s got zero idea how the vampire world works but he’s so earnest about helping Atl. I spent a good portion of the book wanting to either slap him or wrap him in a blanket and feed him soup, which is pretty much the reaction most teen boys engender in me, so, props for accuracy. Rodrigo and Ana I didn’t care as much about, though they served as interesting foils for the much younger characters: one committed to ridding the world of vampire violence, and one who’s perpetrating it. And, of course, there’s Cualli, Atl’s genetically modified dog, who is a very good boy. I loved his interactions with Domingo.
The pacing moves along at a breakneck speed, with very few pauses, which fits the barebones plot very well. It also makes this a quick and enjoyable read. While most things feel streamlined, it does dole out several extremely interesting bits of vampire lore. I liked the various types of vampires, especially the Aztec-linked Tlahuelpocmimi and the Revenants (super creepy).
“In the end, we are always our hunger.”
Overall, this was a delightfully noir take on vampires, highly recommended for anyone looking for a violent bloodbath involving not-your-usual vampires.
Content notes: View Spoiler »extreme violence and gore (including murder), gun violence, death of a mother (retold), death of a sister (retold), animal abuse, tobacco and alcohol use, adult/minor relationship (17 year old and early 20s) « Hide Spoiler