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Vampires of El Norte


Isabel Cañas

Vampires of El Norte
average rating is 3 out of 5

Romance, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Vampires

R. Alex Jenkins

Vampires of el Norte is a mellow and nicely written book, but NOT a horror book, not even close!

I really wanted to like it but was hoping for so much more. Reading this after Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy was a coincidental and horrible mistake. It feels like pastiche or an unnecessary cheat code for a video game.

The book title and primary genre are misleading. Nominated for the best horror book of 2023 - you gotta be kidding me? Learn to take these yearly buzz lists with a sack of salt!

And salt, supposedly wards off evil, but since when is it a known repellent against vampiric creatures? Try holy water, garlic, religious artifacts, roses, running water or strong light (sunlight is best). Vaqueros (cowboys) apparently rode around in 1840s Mexico with vials of the stuff in their saddlebags? Just as importantly, vampires cannot cross a threshold unless you 'invite them in'.

An accurate label for this book would be fictional romance, with likeable main characters, strong morals and a Gone With The Wind gusto about it. It's a pretty good love story in terms of flow, style and sentiments. For this reason I am giving it three rounded-up stars. It also taught me a few things about US/Mexico relationships and some new Spanish vocabulary.

But horror and vampires? Don't get me started. Tacked on tropes to make it more exciting - excuses if you like - as tacky outliers for a core romantic heart.

To be fair to the author, she probably didn't categorise this book herself. Other people did that. I wanted much more from it. If it was labelled correctly as romance I wouldn't have read it in the first place either, so there is that, but genre misplacement is a deceptive marketing tactic to attract people from all walks of life. It certainly got me!

There's an element of Lady Chatterley's Lover - not the sexual aspects - but a rich lady falling in love with a man clearly below her station. This is the soul of the book. Will they, won't they get it all together?

This is a nice tale with decent storytelling. Pleasing but also repetitive, rather predictable and had me stomping off aghast determined not to DNF at times.

A small world where not a lot happens, definitely not the expansive and terrifying adventure I was anticipating. There might be vampires out there - were there ever - but not scary ones at all.

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