ARC Review: Immortal Pleasures by V. Castro

Today’s review is about IMMORTAL PLEASURES by V. Castro. It’s a standalone novel about an ancient Aztec vampire searching for vengeance and love. After centuries of reckoning with her traumatic past during the Spanish conquest of America, Malinalli is finally ready to search for emotional intimacy.

Author: V. Castro
Series: None
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publish Date: April 16, 2024
Print Length: 304

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Official Synopsis

An ancient Aztec vampire roams the modern world in search of vengeance and love in this seductive dark fantasy from the author of The Haunting of Alejandra.

Hundreds of years ago, she was known as La Malinche: a Nahua woman who translated for the conquistador Cortés. In the centuries since, her name has gone down in infamy as a traitor. But no one ever found out what happened to La Malinche after Cortés destroyed her people.

In the ashes of the empire, she was reborn as Malinalli, an immortal vampire. And she has become an avenger of conquered peoples, traveling the world to reclaim their stolen artifacts and return them to their homelands.

But she has also been in search of something more, for this ancient vampire still has deeply human longings for pleasure and for love.

When she arrives in Dublin in search of a pair of Aztec skulls–artifacts intimately connected to her own dark history–she finds something else: two men who satisfy her cravings in very different ways.

For the first time she meets a mortal man–a horror novelist–who is not repelled by her strange condition but attracted by it. But there is also another man, an immortal like herself, who shares the darkness in her heart.

Now Malinalli is on the most perilous adventure of all: a journey into her own desires.

My Review

I received a free, digital, advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.

IMMORTAL PLEASURES is about an Aztec vampire named Malinalli who is reckoning with and reclaiming her painful past. Prior to becoming one of the undead, she lived through the Spanish conquest of her people in the 16th century. Sold early in life to another tribe by her own mother, Malinalli eventually finds herself surviving as a translator for Hernan Cortes. Now she spends her time searching for artifacts to reclaim them from the colonizers, her latest hunt being a set of 16th century skulls. Along the way she realizes she might finally be ready to open herself up to more than physical intimacy.

The premise of IMMORTAL PLEASURES is quite interesting and unique. Malinalli suffered immensely at the hands of the Spanish conquistadors. She watched them murder her people and other tribes, either through brute force or disease. To survive, she used her quick mind to learn different languages, eventually serving as Cortes’s translator and mistress. This back story leaves a lot of emotion and experiences to unpack.

There’s the guilt she has from working as the colonizers’ translator, which she acknowledges. But she also sees it as the only thing that kept her alive. She also has to deal with past familial and sexual trauma, which made it extremely difficult for Malinalli to open herself up to anyone. Her mother essentially abandoned her and sold her into slavery. This signalled to Malinalli that she was unworthy, particularly in comparison to the new son her mother bore from a new husband. So, this throws in the not unexpected twist of a patriarchal society. Then she endures years of unwanted sexual advances from Cortes and one other Spanish conquistador. It was nearly inevitable for this to result in a couple of children to whom Malinalli feels little attachment due to her trauma.

After several hundred years, Malinalli finally feels more or less ready to look for more meaningful attachment. She decides to do so while on a business trip to collect two ancient skulls from her past. But what she doesn’t quite anticipate is the danger that pops up along the way in the shape of an abominable figure from her past. This encounter literally and symbolically serves as the culmination of retribution and vengeance for her.

While I found the concept promising, unfortunately the delivery left me wanting. It reminded me a little of Interview With A Vampire in that Malinalli narrates her life akin to that of Louis de Pointe du Lac. It jumps from the present to various points in the past, which is easy enough to follow. However, it is not as polished and is incredibly on the nose. It felt like reading a diary used as a draft of a book. There was little finesse with the writing style, just a very matter-of-fact style of story telling. As a result, I found it difficult to become too invested in Malinalli. Several times I thought about not finishing it, but carried on because it’s not a very long book.

Another major sticking point for me was that there was almost no plot. Something starts to develop more after about two-thirds of the way through. But at that point I was just trying to finish the book. Moreover, a big reveal about a vampire’s identity just felt so unnecessary and out of place, probably because the build up and reveal were so even keeled. And, given the title, a reader might expect some sexual content. I can confirm it is present. However, the descriptions and anticipation left something to be desired. Some of the sexual metaphors used were, frankly, just odd and out of place, in my opinion.

Unfortunately, IMMORTAL PLEASURES didn’t really live up to its potential for me. The synopsis sounded so promising, but ultimately fell flat. It lacks the mystique many might expect from a vampire book as well as a a storytelling style that sinks its teeth into the reader. However, I do appreciate the unique perspective from an Aztec vampire when so many other vampire stories that permeate literature are from White Western culture.

Rating: 2.5
Content warnings: genocide, gore, blood, death, sexual content (consensual), sexual assault (historical, implied)
Reading format: Kindle e-book

6 thoughts on “ARC Review: Immortal Pleasures by V. Castro

  1. I’ve seen similar reviews of this book so you’re not alone. I’m hesitant to read this but I’m also curious, and I may try it next, we’ll see????

    1. Definitely try it and make your own judgment, for sure! But I agree with some of the reviews I’ve seen that rate it 3 or lower. It just kind of lacked any oomph.

  2. Great review! I’m bummed to hear this one didn’t work for you—it has such an interesting premise! I haven’t seen any other reviews for this but my curiosity is still piqued. Maybe it’ll make a difference reading this knowing what the writing is like. I think I might still give it a try 🙂

    1. I know, I’m sad, too, especially because the premise sounded so interesting! I haven’t seen any other bloggers review this book, either, but there’s definitely plenty of reviews on GR if you want a more general consensus before starting it.

  3. This sounded pretty interesting up until no plot and awkward sexual metaphors. Honestly, the cover would have put me off a bit anyway, I’m still scarred from all that late-stage Anita Blake I read in the past. ????

  4. I’m sorry that this didn’t work for you, I’ve seen other reviews saying similar things too. It’s a shame as the historical influences behind the story sound fascinating but the execution of it doesn’t sound particularly great.

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