Yesterday was the release of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s latest novel, Silver Nitrate. I was hoping to get a review posted before the release, but alas, life happens. In any case, I wanted to rave about this book a bit and encourage you to get your hands on it, because in my opinion, it’s worth it.
Admittedly, this was my first Silvia Moreno-Garcia novel. I was privileged enough to get an advanced reader copy through NetGalley and the publisher, Penguin Random House. I initially requested this book because I do enjoy a bit of the horror genre on occasion and this one had old-style cinema and witchy elements, so I figured, why not?! Just from the book description, I was intrigued. Let me tell you–this one did not disappoint.
The book follows Montserrat, a sound editor, and Tristan, a struggling former soap opera star both of whom live in Mexico City, trying to make their way in the film world. When Tristan meets an old, yet highly esteemed film director, Abel Urueta, who just so happens to be living on the same floor in his apartment building, the two friends decide to meet with him for dinner. During their time together, a story unfolds about a cursed film that Urueta directed back in his prime. Beyond the Yellow Door was filmed on silver nitrate as a necessary aspect of turning the film into a spell for the writer and German occultist, Wilhelm Friedrich Ewers. The film unfortunately never saw the light of day, as Ewers died suddenly in a mugging incident. Urueta is convinced that this is the reason he has been so down on his luck since then. He convinces Montserrat and Tristan to help him sound dub the copy he has of the silver nitrate film to complete the spell and finally get them the fame and recognition they have been striving for. What unfolds is intense and spooky–Tristan seeing the ghost of his ex girlfriend and Montserrat begins to notice a dark presence that very well could be the presence of the Nazi occultist himself. The book is packed full of rich (albeit fictional) history with twists and turns, and even a hint of romance.
Overall, I found this novel to be engaging. I was trying to piece together the resolution as soon as the rising conflict went down, which I found to be rather gripping. I felt like the plot worked seamlessly, although I was hoping for a bit more from our two main characters in terms of their relationship with one another. In terms of the plot, it was just the right amount of spooky without being overly gratuitous and the author’s ability to write good representation for her characters (elderly, diverse, disabled, etc) was definitely an added bonus for me. I felt rather satisfied when I finished this book. Admittedly, I had to go back and read the other Moreno-Garcia novels and found that I appreciated them almost as much. Silver Nitrate might be her best novel yet, although I do think Mexican Gothic could give it a run for it’s money. The thing is, both novels were so different in terms of content that they stand well on their own. I did love Mexican Gothic but I think the film nerd in me really loved the premise of Silver Nitrate, plus the added occult elements were a definite win. If you’re into horror or a fan of Silvia Moreno-Garcia, I definitely recommend reading Silver Nitrate. Once you do, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. I am also curious to know what your favorite Moreno-Garcia has been so far. Let me know in the comments!
Happy Reading! Or should I say… Spooky Reading? 😉