The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

beautThe first book I read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia was Certain Dark Things, which I loved.  It was dark and full of vampire myth, a gritty urban fantasy that I couldn’t put down and a world and cast of characters that I would gladly return to.  The Beautiful Ones is a completely different read – which, basically should be obvious to anybody really given the blurb and the cover – I knew it was going to be unlike my first read by this author so that wasn’t a surprise at all, however, if you’re picking this one up thinking it’s going to maybe have a dangerous edge then I can tell you now that isn’t the case.

If I was going to try and give you a very quick idea of what this one is like I would compare it to one of the classics, the first one that springs to mind being Pride and Prejudice – because there certainly is an element of la-di-da society and etiquette is paramount.  But, if I was going to be really honest I’d more liken this to Wuthering Heights – except in the style of Jane Austen and with paranormal elements thrown in for good measure.  I did enjoy this but I really think that you have to pick it up with the right expectations.  Basically, this is a period romance, carried out in polite society where the paranormal elements are really only an aside to the story rather than a key element.  I enjoyed it, I thought the characters were very well drawn and it seems to highlight for me that in Moreno-Garcia we have an author who isn’t prepared to be defined by one style and is more than happy to give her writing abilities a good workout.

I won’t really elaborate too much on the plot. Nina Beaulieu is about to enter her first Season with the help of her beautiful but rather cold sister in law Valerie.  Nina is a little unrefined in some respects – or she’s the Country mouse to Valerie’s polished City mouse. She’s also a little bit unusual in that she has telekinetic powers and has in the past had a few mishaps due to her lack of control that have fed the gossip mill.  I liked Nina, she wasn’t afraid to be different, in fact she didn’t see anything wrong in her abilities and found all the gossip and whisperings, not to mention the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ a little bit stifling.  She didn’t try to hide her abilities, in fact she wholeheartedly tried to discover more about how to improve her ability, and she’s very blunt – well, in terms of the society that she moves in at least.

Nina actively seeks out the company of Hector Auvray.  Hector is a performer, risen from very poor beginnings his abilities have led to immeasurable wealth and fame and although he isn’t one of the upper class he is grudgingly permitted to socialise with them.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s fairly easy on the eye.  Pretty soon Hector begins to court Nina and she in turn begins to fall a little bit in love never realising that Hector has ulterior motives.

Valerie, Nina’s sister in law, put me in mind, in some respects, to Lady Blakeney from the Scarlet Pimpernell – she’s very polished, beautiful and a socialite that everyone mimics but, scratch the surface and she has a hidden past.  Unlike Lady Blakeney, Valerie’s beautiful facade hides a rather bitter and twisted soul.  Scheming and machinations are second nature to her and she has no qualms about using Nina to further her own ambitions.

This isn’t a fast paced novel, there isn’t a good deal of mystery involved, it definitely falls into the land of romance and on top of that we end up with a love triangle!  And yet, in spite of that I found myself enjoying this more than I expected.  I was always keen to pick it back up and it has this lovely sense of build up.  You can see that everything’s going to go horribly wrong and you just want people to take a minute to calm down and think things through – but, I guess that wouldn’t help the story along now would it.

Ultimately I had a good time with this book.  It’s probably unfair to compare it to my previous read by this author but nobody every said life was fair and, no, this one doesn’t top Certain Dark things for me personally.  However, it’s entertaining, fun and the writing is solid.  If you like paranormal, period romances (not, I hasten to add a bodice ripper) with well developed characters then I would definitely recommend this.  It’s a bit of a no brainer for me as I’ve always liked the classics and this one just has that edge of difference that intrigued me enough to want to give it a shot.

I received a copy of this through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

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Waiting on Wednesday : The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  My book this week is : The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  I loved Certain Dark Things so can’t wait to pick up more by this author.

Thebeautiful“Truly one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a long time. This sweeping tale of love lost and found is told with old-world elegance and grace with just the right touch of magic.” —M.J. Rose, New York Times bestselling author

Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society in hopes of landing a suitable husband. But Antonina is telekinetic, and strange events in her past have made her the subject of malicious gossip and hardly a sought-after bride. Now, under the tutelage of her cousin’s wife, she is finally ready to shed the past and learn the proper ways of society.

Antonina, who prefers her family’s country home to the glamorous ballrooms of the wealthy, finds it increasingly difficult to conform to society’s ideals for women, especially when she falls under the spell of the dazzling telekinetic performer Hector Auvray. As their romance blossoms, and he teaches her how to hone and control her telekinetic gift, she can’t help but feel a marriage proposal is imminent.

Little does Antonina know that Hector and those closest to her are hiding a devastating secret that will crush her world and force her to confront who she really is and what she’s willing to sacrifice.

Due out in October

The best of the best of the best 2016

As is my tradition I’m breaking in the New Year with a little look back at my favourite books from 2016.  Another good reading year with plenty to choose from and I admit that I struggled narrowing this down to 10, in fact I singled out at least 25 in my initial search.  I really did read some most excellent books this year in fact I was lucky enough to get through 120 books.  My list for the year is here.  Without further ado my favourites for 2016 with links to the reviews.

  1. The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence
  2. City of Blades by Robert J Bennett
  3. The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky
  4. The Silver Tide by Jen William
  5. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  6. Company Town by Madeline Ashby
  7. Fix by Ferrett Steinmetz
  8. The Family Plot by Cherie Priest
  9. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  10. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

I feel like I should also make honorary mentions for Monstrous Little Voices by Jonathan Barnes, Emma Newman, Kate Heartfield, Fox Meadows, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards, 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough, The Hike by Drew Magary, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and The Facefaker’s Game by Chandler J Birch

 

 

 

 

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

certaindarkthingsCertain Dark Things is a book about vampires and, put simply, I loved it.  I’ve read a lot of vampire books and to be honest, over the years, I guess that these immortals have become a bit jaded in some respects.  Vampires have been romantacised so much that we’ve almost forgotten that they’re predators – not gorgeous,emotionally tortured and beautiful creatures that are in search of love.  Certain Dark Things once again brings to us the vampires of old.  Cold, predatory, self serving and dangerous immortals.  It delivers a wonderfully real and gritty story set in an alternate and contemporary Mexico that kept me riveted to the page with tension because of the way I cared about the characters.  Forgive me whist I gush a little.  This is an excellent read and one that I strongly suggest you pick up if you want to get back down to good old basics where vampires are concerned.

Firstly, to the plot.  Basically this is a cat and mouse type story.  The vampires in this story are drug dealers who fight bitterly over their territory. Atl’s family have gone to war with a rival gang and the fallout has left All running to the anonymity that Mexico can provide (more about that in a while).  Of course she has a pack of vampires on her tail and so she needs to lie low until she can find a way to take on a new identity and then disappear for good.

The setting.  Certain Dark Things is based very much on our own world.  Most things are as we already know them except for one vital element, about 40 or so years ago, give or take, humans finally became aware of the existence of vampires.  The myths and folklore were all true – well certain elements at least and this led to all sorts of conflicts.  Mexico City became a vampire free zone along the way.  Using sanitation squads they maintain heavy security.  It’s probably the last place a vampire would want to go – unless of course that vampire was on the run.

Atl is a vampire.  Her blood line harks back to the Aztecs which gives her a particular type of birdlike capability that affects the way she feeds and also gives her other gifts that not all vampires enjoy.  Atl is a strong and independent woman but underneath her tough exterior you can sense the loneliness.  Domingo is a young man living rough on the streets.  He collects garbage to sell and knows the backstreets of the city like the back of his hand.  He’s also familiar with looking after and depending;on himself but he also seeks company – which is why, one dark night he follows Atl home.  Of course he little suspects that she’s a vampire, Mexico is free of vampires after all, he just likes her and, even though he knows, deep down, that she can’t possibly like him he accepts her invitation to enter her domain.  Now, what follows is a strange dependency that develops between the two.  Atl needs Domingo even in spite of all of her protestations and more than that she becomes captivated by his naivety.  She needs his blood first and foremost but she also needs his eyes and ears, out on the streets, running her errands, at times when she is unable to do so herself.  Domingo needs Atl.  He loves that she relies on him and frankly refuses to accept that he’s in danger – which he most certainly is.  There’s something very winning about his innocence, given that he’s been living on the streets and taking care of himself for so long he has a fascinating lack of guile.

We have the tough and hardened cop Ana – I liked her.  I guess she’s a bit of a stereotype in some respects but I followed her chapters just as eagerly as the others.  She’s a single mum who has had to work hard to achieve any sort of ground but she finally feels like she’s gained some respect for her vampire hunting skills.

But, my favourite character of the piece was undoubtedly Bernardino – a revenant and frankly the most scary, yet understated, vampire of the entire book.  You definitely want this guy on your team.  That is all.

The gangsters hunting Atl are led by Nico.  Nico is a particularly nasty vampire, a necro – probably akin more to the vampires of our old folklore with long teeth and hypnotic type abilities that allow a victim to be glamoured.  Nico wants to find Atl very badly, but I won’t go into that as I think that the reason why Atl is on the run need to be discovered during the read.

I loved that the author has come up with so many different vampire species or types here.  It feels like she’s taken myths from all over the world and created her own compendium!  There’s even a glossary at the conclusion of the novel – and what I loved even more about the glossary was that it reads like a factual account of all the real vampires that have come to our knowledge since their ‘outing’.  Of course we don’t get to see all these vampires in this story – the glossary is almost like a piece of evidence that gives the main story even more realism.

Whilst I have no criticisms for this story I would point out that this is without a doubt a bloody read.  It pulls no punches in that respect so be warned as there are certain chapters, particularly as the tension ramps up, that are literally blood soaked.

I really enjoyed Certain Dark Things.  It’s a modern story of vampirism that is gritty and realistic – although I hope not too real!  It brings to us a story of two of the most unlikely characters that made me tense with anticipation wondering whether they would both survive.

I hope for more to come.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

Friday Firsts: Certain Dark Things by Silvio Moreno-Garcia

FridayFirsts

Friday Firsts is a new meme that runs every Friday over on Tenacious Reader. The idea is to feature the first few sentences/paragraph of your current book and try and outline your first impressions as a result. This is a quick and easy way to share a snippet of information about your current read and to perhaps tempt others.  Stop on by and link up with Tenacious Reader.

‘Collecting garbage sharpens the senses.  It allows us to notice what others do not see.  Where most people would spy a pile of junk, the rag-and-bone man sees treasure: empty bottles that might be dragged to the recycling centre, computer innards that can be reused, furniture in decent shape.  The garbage collector is alert.  After all, this is a profession.’

 

certaindarkthings

My First Impressions

What are you reading right now? Did it start out strong? Feel free to join in.