Vampires of El Norte

  Book #33 of 2023

Vampires of El Norte
Isabel Canas
Supernatural Romance/Historical Fiction
Pub: Aug 15, 2023
371 pages 

Vampires of El Norte is a stunning, atmospheric tale of forbidden romance.  Set against the backdrop of the Mexican-American war in the mid-1840s, Nena fights for her love with a ranchero, Nestor, that she once believed was impossible.  After his disappearance and homecoming, they must work together and reconcile deeply ingrained and disconcerted feelings in order to save their village's livelihood.

From a young age, Nena and Nestor find out that the monsters lurking around their home are much more demonic than just the Anglo settlers threatening to invade and conquer their home.  Tensions are rising and war is inevitable.  The line between real and fantasy blurs with each passing moment.  Heart pounding, tense moments combined with lyrical prose paints a beautiful story of giving up everything for love, family, and culture.

What I Enjoyed
This story was beautiful.  It felt like the first time you read a novel in school that you are required to read and you end up loving it.  While it's not the quickest plot with twists and turns, it has a subtle strength to it that will keep you going.

I did not know anything about the Mexican-American war and had to look up many references to Mexican culture.  I enjoy when an author weaves the cultural nuances into a story rather than spelling out everything point blank to the reader.  If you are someone who does not want to do supplemental digging outside of a novel, you may find this off putting.

The character work was wonderful and was not overshadowed by the other elements of the story.  Her balance of historical fiction, fantasy, and romance was perfectly intertwined without anything feeling overly forced.  Not an easy feat to accomplish.

What Could Have Been Better
My ONLY gripe with this book was the amount of metaphors and similes.  I know this sounds trivial, but it really got to the point that it took me out of the story.  Maybe this was something the editor should have caught; maybe this was insisted upon by the author.  I loved her writing and don't want to take away from it, but if you took out all of the comparison language in this novel you would probably lose a significant amount of pages.

Final Recommendation
This is the perfect gothic, fall read.  It feels a little academic, while also being incredibly enjoyable.  I started Vampires of El Norte after taking my kids trick or treating on Halloween night and I couldn't have picked a more fitting read.  If you're a seasonal or mood reader I would recommend saving this one for anytime between September and November.


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