Books

Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia review: Menacing and magical happenings made believable

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's latest novel finds the Mexican-Canadian author delving into occult horror

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a diverse and skilled writer turning to horror with her latest novel, Silver Nitrate. The Mexican-Canadian author has already had success writing in such diverse genres as historical, fantasy, noir and gothic fiction, and this time she delves into an occult horror story with real verve and style. Silver Nitrate is set within the film industry of Mexico City in the ’90s, where Montserrat is a talented but isolated sound editor. 

Along with her faded soap-star friend Tristán, she gets involved with ageing cult horror movie director Abel, who enlists their help in finishing an old movie which, he claims, was cursed. 

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Abel thinks that the silver nitrate stock that the original movie was filmed on was imbued with dark magic by a Nazi occultist, and while that seems ridiculous to Montserrat to begin with, she is gradually disturbed by dark forces around her as the story progresses. 

Moreno-Garcia’s strengths here are creating a menacing atmosphere and weaving real-life films and movie myths with possibly magical and devilish goings-on. The pacing of the narrative is expertly judged and the revelations perfectly placed. This is a writer with a natural feel for horror tropes and a desire to subvert them when needed. This is also a book that digs deep to create a believable framework for
all the supernatural happenings. Exemplary stuff. 

Doug Johnstone is an author and journalist 

Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is out now (Jo Fletcher Books, £18.99). You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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