The story opens in Mexico City, 1984, at a recently uncovered ruin of an Aztec temple. Itzel, a high priest, is performing a gruesome sacrifice to Quetzalcoatl, the old god of his people. The blood of the sacrifice runs down through the cracks and seams of the old structure to deep under the temple to what has lain in wait for centuries.
Fifteen-year-old Christian Leclères had lived all his life in the rural East Texas home with his mother. Home-schooled and never allowed off the home place alone, he is unaware of the workings of the world around him: no friends, no other family, no television, radio, telephone, or car. Their only visitor is Mrs. Brooks who came in her big Buick Electra to take his mother to town for groceries every 3rd Friday of the month. Christian knows nothing about his father or mother’s family other than they live in Louisiana. He thinks he remembers meeting his grandmother when he was very young but he’s unsure if that is an actual memory or one he’s developed from hearing his mother talk about it. For whatever reason, his mother’s family was devastated when he was born a boy rather than a girl.
On the eve of his 15th birthday, Christian’s mother has him perform a cleansing ritual, anointing his body with oils, and thanking God for his attainment of this milestone. The next day, Christian’s birthday, happens to be the 3rd Friday of the month and when his mother leaves to get groceries, he rides off on a bicycle he’d found in a shed on their property to clear his head and enjoy a bit of freedom while she’s away. He ends up lost and is eventually given a ride by a senior couple living the RV lifestyle. Talking to the couple, Christian decides to go to New York City. But before he can get on a bus to The Big Apple, he is attacked and stabbed in the chest by a creepy, old man. He is taken to the local hospital where he is patched up and begins to heal miraculously well. He begins to have nightmares or visions from the viewpoint of his attacker killing more people. Terrified, he escapes the hospital, makes his way to New York, and falls in with other kids his age living on the street. He does not, however, escape the monster in his dreams.
The descriptions of the life and times of the punk scene were most interesting. The New York City setting with detailed street information was fun. Also, it was interesting and entertaining to note the changes in our culture, trends, and technology - payphones, boom boxes, cassettes – present in the 1984 time frame. Bravo to the author for these touches; they were fun. The weaving of Chris’ life and the visions were frightening and intense. There are sexual situations and descriptions in the story that make this one a story for mature readers.
This is a very different sort of vampire story: the vampire element not being the major focus of much of the novel, yet underlying and being the cause for much of the action. The addition of Aztec angle was new to me and I liked that. This appears to be a first book in a series. There are a lot of unanswered questions and plotlines left hanging by the end of the book. I look forward to the next installment to see where those go. I recommend this book for its young adult, coming of age theme, its depiction of the 1980s punk scene, and the unusual Aztec storyline.