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Three Blood-chilling Horror Audiobooks by Latina Authors

Loved ‘Mexican Gothic?’ Listen up! I’ve found you more good ones for the spooky season

By Amethyst QuPublished about a year ago 5 min read
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Cemetery photo by the author, Veracruz state, Mexico, November 2016

As pumpkin spice season approaches, my thoughts turn to spooky stories. Thanks to Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, I’ve been exploring more of the terrifying worlds of horror created by the new wave of Latina authors.

Like Mexican Gothic, all three of the books I’ll recommend today are available in English (or English translation) on audio — and that’s how I enjoyed them. There’s something delicious about listening to a blood-curdling tale of horror that reminds me of long-lost nights spent shivering to spooky tales told around a blazing campfire.

But first, a note of warning from Morena-Garcia herself, who left this message on her Instagram:

“Just a reminder that all my books are very different…Read the descriptions. Thanks.”

There’s probably no category where this warning is more important than horror.

audiobook cover screenshots from my phone for purposes of review

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Narrated by Aida Reluzco. 8 hours 46:57 minutes. A Macmillan Audio production from Tor Nightfire.

I’m not one of your fanatic readers of “all things vampire.” You may consider me a picky enthusiast of “some things vampire.”

This neo-noir tale of young vampire Atl and even younger 17-year-old street kid Domingo stands out. “But, Amethyst,” you may say. “There are so many tragic tales of young love between human and vampire.”

No doubt there are, but this one hits different. For one thing, the world-building will blow you away.

In this AU, vampires have emerged from the shadows decades ago — with the result that some of them have been chased from their countries of origin to other countries with more relaxed entry requirements.

Countries like Mexico.

This doesn’t especially amuse the vampires who have already lived there for lo these hundreds of years.

One gathers that northern Mexico is a hot zone between warring cartels of the native vampires (a birdlike species) and the invaders (most prominently the nasty Necros, a European species now intent on wiping out the natives in general and Atl in particular).

The twist is that Mexico City is a vampire-free zone still ruled by human cartels and corrupt cops — and the humans would like it to remain that way. So when the Necros have wiped out most of your family and they’re coming for you next, what better place for a young vampire to hide than the city where vampires are forbidden to go?

This is an adventure that never slows down. And, also, you keep wanting to hug Domingo. Plus there’s a cool dog. Always a bonus.

Worth noting: In light of the renewed interest in this book, the author has recently released a new cover version for a (thus far "imaginary") comic book version of Certain Dark Things. You can find the new art on her Instagram.

audiobook cover screenshots from my phone for purposes of review

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

Narrated by Joseph Balderrama. 6 hours 44.06 minutes. Simon & Schuster Audio. Translator Sarah Moses.

I could kick myself for letting this sit around on my TBR shelf. You’re not going to read (or listen to) a better horror novel. Think of the most intense thing you ever read. This one belongs on that shelf.

It may even take top honors.

In a future where all animal meat has become infected by a virus — but people still need to consume protein — you know what happens next. (Yes, there’s a nod to Soylent Green.) Marcos, our point of view character throughout, has lost his baby son, is losing his father and wife, and is desperately lonely in a dark future where cannibalism is legal and regulated.

And, ah, he’s also one of the guys who has a very good job in the “special meat” industry.

This is not a book for the timid or the squeamish. We plunge right in with a visit to a tannery. Listening to Part One, I kept exclaiming, “This author totally worked in meatpacking! Or maybe he had a ranch.”

Yeah, I made an assumption. Eventually, I did wake up and look at the author’s name. Not a guy. And she studied fine art.

But there’s no doubt Bazterrica knows her stuff. Not just ranching and processing, but male psychology too.

If there was ever a book that made you feel like you got inside the head of a guy desperate for a baby and all a baby represents (connection, future, legacy), then this is that book. With a twist. A very dark twist.

You will not forget this ending.

You will believe this ending.

Warning: Explicitly gruesome and disturbing. Marcos is not a vampire. He’s a human being. Somebody’s husband, somebody’s father. Disturbingly like people we know.

Maybe even people we are.

The narrator is wonderful. I never doubted from his light accent that he was from Argentina. However, after wrongly assuming the author was a dude, I decided I better check my assumptions about Balderrama too. Turns out the narrator is from Mexico and moved to London as a child, where he went on to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Looking at his catalog, you quickly discover he’s a genius at accents.

audiobook cover screenshots from my phone for purposes of review

Things We Lost In The Fire by Mariana Enriquez

Narrated by Tanya Eby. 5 hours 43:51 minutes. HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books. Megan McDowell, translator.

As a genre that hits hardest when the story comes complete with a zinger of a last line, horror is especially well-suited to the short story format. Looking for a bite-sized shiver during your lunch break? The twelve stories in this chilling audiobook might be just what you’re looking for.

The horror in these stories is found on the borderline between the supernatural and the psychological. You may wonder if there’s really a supernatural element to some of them. Perhaps the true horror is the cruelty we inflict on each other — especially our so-called nearest and dearest.

I’m not a huge fan of picking favorites out of story collections. The book is short and full of shivers. Why not listen to them all?

However, for those of you who are short on time, I’ll say that the opening story, “The Dirty Kid,” and the final story, “Things We Lost in the Fire,” are especially chilling. “Spider Web” is also a top choice.

Reviewer's Note

This review was previously published behind a paywall. It is lightly updated for this site.

My previous audiobook review can be found here:

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About the Creator

Amethyst Qu

Seeker, traveler, birder, crystal collector, photographer. I sometimes visit the mysterious side of life. Author of "The Moldavite Message" and "Crystal Magick, Meditation, and Manifestation."

https://linktr.ee/amethystqu

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