Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas is an intriguing novel that blends elements of telenovela romance with a unique twist on traditional vampire lore. While the title may suggest a focus on vampires, the story predominantly revolves around the complex romantic relationships of the characters.
The protagonist, Nena, initially appears to be a promising character with the potential to challenge the vampires and the patriarchal society she finds herself in. However, the narrative takes an unexpected turn as Nena becomes entangled in a miscommunication trope, leading to a heightened focus on her love interest, Nestor. This shift in focus may leave readers hoping for a more empowered exploration of Nena's journey to discover her internal fortitude.
Nevertheless, the book succeeds in capturing the essence of telenovela vibes, reminiscent of popular shows like La Dueña. The historical accuracy depicted within the story, particularly regarding the cruelty of the Texas Rangers and the Mexican Army's struggles, adds depth to the setting and enhances the overall reading experience.
One aspect that may perplex readers is the portrayal of the vampires themselves. These creatures are depicted in a manner distinct from traditional vampire archetypes, with a unique description that evokes thoughts of The Priest, where vampires are portrayed as these eyeless beings with long limbs. In this case, the vampires are depicted as enslaved individuals, bound by chains and utilized by the Anglos to aid them in their conflicts against the rancheros. This intriguing twist raises questions about the potential allegorical representation of the enslaved population during that time in history.
Towards the end of the book, when Nena releases one of the vampires from its collar and urges it to return home, it prompts speculation about the author's intention in addressing this historical context. Or I may be reading too much into this. I don't know.
Overall, Vampires of El Norte may not fully meet the expectations set by its title, but it provides an enjoyable read for those who appreciate a slow-burn telenovela-inspired romance with a dose of Mexican history. The divergent portrayal of vampires adds an intriguing layer to the story, inviting readers to contemplate the possible connections to the historical context in which the narrative unfolds.
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