Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Canas

Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas: Book Review

I was sucked into (pun intended) this story from the beginning. I love Isabel Cañas’s ability to make your heart race from horror and romance while weaving in historical perspectives. I read The Hacienda in 2022, so I immediately had to get my hands on her second novel. Please read this novel if you want to read about the ugliness of colonialism with an aching love story that gives Amor Prohibido vibes.

Nena and Néstor grew up together and had such a strong love for each other. That is until something attacks Nena, and Néstor believes that she is dead. He leaves the rancho because nothing is left for him there, not if he has any hope of making his own way and becoming his own man, free from the rule of an exploitative master. Nena, the daughter of the rancher, could have never married a lowly vaquero like Néstor anyway. Nine years later, Néstor returns to the rancho to help defend it against U.S. forces invading Mexico to steal land. Miraculously reunited, they find themselves fighting together on the battlefield and eventually fighting for their lives against other creatures in the night.

Without spoiling, I love how Cañas utilized vampires in this story. I really want to talk about how she used vampires in the story, so please skip ahead to the next paragraph if you don’t want me to spoil it. I love how the vampires in this story strengthened the conversation of “who is the monster, and who has humanity?” Yes, vampires are hunters and need to kill to sustain their lives, but I thought it was brilliant that she used white supremacy and colonialism as the real monsters. The vampires in Vampires of El Norte were a part of the natural order and were hunting only to survive, leaving humans alone for the most part. Inhumanity is enslaving these creatures to inflict terror to advance colonialism and land theft (although the ranchers were gifted stolen land to begin with, and some go on to exploit their workers, which Cañas also brilliantly talks about).

I loved this story so much. I loved this Mexican perspective on the historical events of the Mexican-American War. I loved the romantic tension of a childhood friends to enemies to lovers story. I recommend this to any other historical romance lovers, but also to historical fiction lovers in general.

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