I was 2023 years old when I discovered my love for historical horror, and this book is the catalyst for that discovery. Vampires of El Norte is the perfect blend of historical horror, romantic first love, and Mexican-American history. I finished this book in record time all thanks to the pulse-pounding pace and the swoon-worthy romance. Do not let "horror" spook you from this near-perfect book, so good that it made my Best Books Published in 2023 list! Find out why here! ⬇️
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- historical horror
- 1840s Mexico/Texas border story
- own voice/BIPOC author
- culturally rich with lots of social commentary
- first love (closed-door) romance
Pub Date: August 15, 2023
Thank you SO much @BerkleyPub for the advanced access!
Vampires and vaqueros face off on the Texas-Mexico border in this supernatural western from the author of The Hacienda.
As the daughter of a rancher in 1840s Mexico, Nena knows a thing or two about monsters—her home has long been threatened by tensions with Anglo settlers from the north. But something more sinister lurks near the ranch at night, something that drains men of their blood and leaves them for dead.
Something that once attacked Nena nine years ago.
Believing Nena dead, Néstor has been on the run from his grief ever since, moving from ranch to ranch working as a vaquero. But no amount of drink can dispel the night terrors of sharp teeth; no woman can erase his childhood sweetheart from his mind.
When the United States attacks Mexico in 1846, the two are brought abruptly together on the road to war: Nena as a curandera, a healer striving to prove her worth to her father so that he does not marry her off to a stranger, and Néstor as a member of the auxiliary cavalry of ranchers and vaqueros. But the shock of their reunion—and Nena’s rage at Néstor for seemingly abandoning her long ago—is quickly overshadowed by the appearance of a nightmare made flesh.
And unless Nena and Néstor work through their past and face the future together, neither will survive to see the dawn.
I cannot say enough good things about this book, y'all. It wasn't what I was expecting from a historical horror. In fact, I think this might be more historical romance with a horror subplot, but what do I know? 🤪 The book focuses on two young people who fall in love as children, are violently separated after a traumatic event, and then are thrust together again during another traumatic event. All the while, there are vampires!
Though the romance was a HUGE part of the book, I very much appreciated the author's use of terrifying creatures to add suspense, heighten drama, and draw parallels to what was happening to Mexico and Mexican culture during that time. The socio-political commentary in this book is one of the main reasons I enjoyed it. Subtle yet impactful, the author weaves very meaningful messages about cultural genocide and colonialism.
I devoured this book in three sittings, compulsively reading out of an insatiable need to know what happens to these two characters. Nestor and Nena are so well developed (again, IMO) that I felt drawn to them and completely invested in their love story. This couple stuck with me long after I finished the book, making them one of my favorite book couples of the year.
Overall, I think Vampires of El Norte was stellar, and I highly recommend it to any historical fiction lover. It was spooky, rather than scary, so don't let "horror" put you off. Instead, get ready to fall in love with two memorable young lovers on the dusty landscapes of South Texas!