Vampires of El Norte

Berkley. Aug. 2023. 384p. ISBN 9780593436721. $28. HORROR
In 1837, young Nena, the daughter of a wealthy Mexican rancher, and her best friend Néstor, the child of her father’s workers, escape into the night to look for silver. After a mysterious creature attacks Nena, Néstor carries her lifeless body home and runs away. Nine years later, Néstor returns to the ranch to help defend it from the United States army and is shocked to see that his years of grief were unnecessary, as Nena turns out to be alive and working as a curandera, a healer, at her father’s ranch. Nena, however, has spent the last nine years angry that Néstor abandoned her. Cañas’s background as a historian is on full display here as she writes a rich, confident, and compelling story wrapped in an authentic and detailed frame, with a satisfying romance. The inclusion of vampires intensifies the unease and danger of life in this place and time.
VERDICT The many fans of The Hacienda will be eager for Cañas’s second novel, which will also thrill and chill readers who’d enjoy a mash-up of Alma Katsu’s historical horror, Andy Davidson’s In the Valley of the Sun, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
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