From the New York Times bestselling author of The Daughter of Doctor Moreau and Mexican Gothic comes a fabulous meld of Mexican horror movies and Nazi occultism: a dark thriller about the curse that haunts a legendary lost film–and awakens one woman’s hidden powers.
Montserrat has always been overlooked. She’s a talented sound editor, but she’s left out of the boys’ club running the film industry in ’90s Mexico City. And she’s all but invisible to her best friend, Tristán, a charming if faded soap opera star, though she’s been in love with him since childhood.
Then Tristán discovers his new neighbor is the cult horror director Abel Urueta, and the legendary auteur claims he can change their lives—even if his tale of a Nazi occultist imbuing magic into highly volatile silver nitrate stock sounds like sheer fantasy. The magic film was never finished, which is why, Urueta swears, his career vanished overnight. He is cursed.
Now the director wants Montserrat and Tristán to help him shoot the missing scene and lift the curse . . . but Montserrat soon notices a dark presence following her, and Tristán begins seeing the ghost of his ex-girlfriend.
As they work together to unravel the mystery of the film and the obscure occultist who once roamed their city, Montserrat and Tristán may find that sorcerers and magic are not only the stuff of movies.
Hi and welcome to my review of Silver Nitrate!
I am a huge fan of Silvia Moreno-Garcia, I have been ever since I read Mexican Gothic, so much so that I’ve read almost everything that came before and everything she’s written since. I honestly don’t know where it went wrong with Silver Nitrate…
Did I expect too much? Did I have a bad couple of days, feeling fatigued and finding it hard to focus? Did the heat exacerbate my fatigue and thus my trouble focusing? Did the PDF’s teeny tiny font make it even harder? Was the pacing on the slow side when I actually needed a fast-paced story? I’m sure the answer to all of those questions is yes, but I’m not sure that’s all there is to it.
I found myself less invested in the story and not caring as much about the main characters as I usually do about this author’s characters. One of them just got on my nerves and not in the good I-love-to-hate-you sense. I also found the setting in space and time less atmospheric and vivid than usually. I dunno, maybe the pulpy vibe of the book just didn’t cut it for me. And maybe I’m comparing too much, but it’s hard not to when you’ve loved an author’s previous work.
The plot is said to be a meld of Mexican horror movies and Nazi occultism, which did make me expect more horror elements and general creepiness than I actually got for the most part. That said, I will add that the pace of the final 25% or so is considerably faster and did meet the expectations I had before starting the book, making me add a half star to the rating I’d had in mind.
Rune magic, a cursed film and a Nazi sorcerer, the cinema industry and cults, Silver Nitrate is full of interesting themes and even though it didn’t entirely work for me as a whole, I will be eagerly awaiting this author’s next novel.
Silver Nitrate is out in all formats on 18 July.
Massive thanks to Jo Fletcher Books (Quercus) and NetGalley for the digital proof. All opinions are my own.