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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

Beware the Monsters

The Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Caras

Rating: 4.5

Will you like this book? You might if you like:

Mexican Gothic

Historical Fiction

Romantic suspense

Paranormal activity

Tightly Crafted Stories and great writing

When the Book of the Month’s list for August was revealed it wasn’t even a question I would pick Isabel Caras’ new book, The Vampires of El Norte. Her debut novel, The Hacienda, was pure Mexican Gothic and I loved it. Her sophomore effort did not disappoint, in fact it was even better. The story was tighter, the gothic and supernatural elements even more clearly crafted. And all of it set amongst the Mexican-American War. This book ticked so many boxes: historical fiction, paranormal, romance. It could have gone so wrong but in Caras’ hands it shined. Plus how beautiful is the cover?

The premise: Nena Serrano de Leon is the daughter of the patron of Los Ojuelos and Nestor Durante is the orphaned son of a vaquero who, with his uncle, cousin, and grandmother, came to Los Ojuelos after his father was killed by Americans at the rancho his family worked at. When we meet Nena and Nestor, they are 13 years old, friends but in that first blush of young love. But after a terrible accident, Nestor flees Los Ojuelos, believing Nena is dead. But Nena is not dead, instead she survived and has studied with Nestor’s abuela to become a healer. When Nestor returns to Los Ojuelos to join the men of the ranchero as they go to fight the Americans he learns that Nena has lived but what has haunted her and Nestor since that terrible evening nine years prior is still out there and in order to save her home, Nena and Nestor are going to have to defeat it and the Americans.

Nena and Nestor have a lot to overcome in order to be together, not just the vampires that follow them and the Yankees and the Texas Rangers intent on stealing their land, but also Nena’s family and their class prejudices. I liked how Caras told the story from alternating points of view, switching from Nena and Nestor so you can feel both of their struggles and showing how both had to grow in order to overcome old habits.

I would highly recommend this book and The Hacienda, especially if you are a fan of Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

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