Vampires of El Norte
September 23, 2023
Book Review

Vampires of El Norte

reviewed by Fiona Cook

Move over Buffy, and make way Van Helsing – there’s a new pair of vampire hunters, and they’re bringing new life to the undead in 19th century Mexico.

As children, Nena and Néstor found a true bond in friendship. But as they grew older and their feelings began to deepen, the difference in their station began to creep between them – and on a fateful night when Nena is attacked by a monster from legend, Néstor flees the ranch her family owns. But when tensions between Mexico and America explode into outright warfare on Mexico’s northern border, he must return home and face demons both literal and from his past.

This is the second book from Isabel Cañas, and the second to take classic horror to Mexico’s turbulent past. It’s a setting that just works – the sun-drenched setting does nothing to take the chill out of seeing Nena and Néstor run for their lives, pursued by monsters and humans alike. The historical elements are well-researched, and make for a setting that comes to life on the page, while romance provided a sweet counterpoint to the tension of both horror and war.

I loved a lot in this book, and most of all the atmosphere. There’s something about mixing vampires with the dusty reaches of northern Mexico that works like bananas and pesto; not a combination you’d expect or put much stock in, and yet a truly unexpected delight. The characters were so easy to root for; and not just our protagonists, but every character felt real – and in a book where monsters lurk in the dark, I appreciate caring for characters. I want real stakes in my horror, and not just the kind traditionally associated with vampires.

So, it’s clear there’s no sophomore slump for Isabel Cañas – in fact, her second outing has left me even more excited to see what she’ll write next.

Vampires of El Norte available at:

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