Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Certain Dark Things is as tantalizing and mysterious as the title and cover art imply. Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic, introduces rich new vampire lore that’s ancient and expansive. Both books have a beautiful gothic style with Mexican flair. Set in an alternative version of Mexico City, Certain Dark Things envisions a world where warring vampire species live openly among humanity. It’s dark, gritty, and captivating. I loved every minute of it.
Alone and hunted by the rival narco-vampire clan who slaughtered her family, Atl is hiding in Mexico City until her family’s contacts can get her out of the country. As long as she stays fed and doesn’t overexert herself, she can pass for human. Staying fed isn’t easy, though, and Atl takes a huge risk on a human street kid named Domingo, offering him money in exchange for his blood.
He’s shocked to learn she’s a Tlāhuihpochtli – a type of vampire – not only because she looks human, but also because Mexico City is a vampire-free territory. Human gangs unite against vampire incursions, and sanitation crews sweep the city verifying ID paperwork and body temperatures. These measures couldn’t keep every vampire out of the city, but it did make things difficult for Atl and those hunting her. Domingo does more than give Atl blood – he wants to help get her out of the county safely.
The book begins with a note to the reader from the author, explaining the evolution of Certain Dark Things from a short story she’d written in 2011 titled, “A Puddle of Blood.” In 2016 the book was published by Thomas Dunn Books, but the publisher reorganized, the book went out of print, and never made it into paperback. Despite this, Certain Dark Things was winning awards and appearing on “Best of” lists. The limited publication made the book hard to find, and copies of the book were being sold on eBay for outrageous prices.
I was surprised to discover that my local library not only had a copy of the original 2016 version of the book, but also had a 2016 audiobook narrated by Dan Bittner. I checked out both after listening to the new audiobook ARC. When I love something, I dive deep, and I like to give as much information as possible in my reviews. So I’m providing links to the three places you can find the original story, “A Puddle of Blood.” I’m also including photos from the original hardback copy, and screenshots comparing the two audiobook covers. I hope you find all these as fascinating as I did.
The old cover art for the original 2016 printing is beautiful, but I think the new cover art is more eye-catching. It’s going to stand out on shelves. I hope the inside of the new book is as beautiful as the original book is, though, because it really is a piece of art. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the new 2021 printing.
My advanced reading copy was of the audiobook of Certain Dark Things, so I was eager to get my hands on the 2016 version. Comparatively, the old audiobook doesn’t do the book justice. The 2016 audiobook was narrated by Dan Bittner, and while a large portion of the book is from male points of view, Atl is the heroine of the book and I definitely think a female narrator suits the book best. That, however, is merely my opinion after hearing both options. The new narrator, Aida Reluzco, brings Atl to life, and gives Certain Dark Things the authenticity it deserves. Her voice and pronunciation are beautiful, and the new audiobook is an immersive experience. I highly recommend it.
According to the author’s website, “A Puddle of Blood” was originally published in EVOLVE Two: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead, August 2011. It was reprinted in Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. It was also reprinted in Love & Other Poisons, September 2014.
2016 audiobook narrated by Dan Bittner.
2021 audiobook narrated by Aida Reluzco.
Certain Dark Things 2016 design credit: Omar Chapa
Certain Dark Things 2016 Jacket design credit: Kerri Resnick
Certain Dark Things 2021 cover illustrator credit: John Picacio.
Certain Dark Things 2021 cover design credit: Lesley Worrell.
Certain Dark Things Notable Mentions (from the author’s website):
- Locus Award finalist
- 2017 Sunburst Award longlist
- NPR: Best Books of 2016
- VOYA Perfect 10 2016
- 2017 Summer Reading List Las Comadres Latino Book Club
- NPR All Things Considered
- 2016 Locus Recommended Reading List
- The Millions: A Year in Reading 2016
- Den of Geek Holiday Gift Guide 2016: Books
- 49th Shelf: 2016: Our Books of the Year
- LitReactor Staff Picks: The Best Books of 2016
- Books Bones and Buffy: Best Books of 2016
Advance Reading Copy provided by MacMillan Audio via Netgalley at my request.