Review: ‘Silver Nitrate,’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

silver nitrateby Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s dexterity for the genre, which oscillates between horror, thriller, crime and gothic, is now well-known, as is her penchant for fusing them with historical Mexican settings. . Her stories range from adventure tales and romances set in 1920s Mexico to her reimaginings of H.G. Wells’s ‘Dr.

Her ninth novel, Silver Nitrate, is the latest of its kind, a horror mystery set in 1990s Mexico City’s declining film industry, about friends trying to break a decades-old curse. The story unleashes even more terrifying things.

Montserrat is a recluse sound editor who cares for his sister with cancer. She has her 3 loves. A horror movie, a white Volkswagen, and her childhood friend Tristan Abascal, a tall, handsome, depressed actor. Montserrat is an exciting and nerdy place. “More cantinfla than James Bond,” Tristan is smooth but also goofy. When he reaches out to reconnect, it means he is in a relationship. Now I need to borrow her car as well.

The plot only comes into play after a lengthy conversation between the two friends and Tristan’s neighbor, Abel Urueta, a once-famous Mexican horror film director. Over a glass of whiskey, he talks about his never-finished work, Beyond the Yellow Door. The piece was co-produced with Nazi occultist Wilhelm Ewers, who believed that silver nitrate film was “the perfect medium for sealing spells”. But when Ewers died before the end of Beyond the Yellow Door, his magic went awry, destroying the film’s highly flammable nitrate prints and cursing the cast and crew.

With the last can hidden in the freezer, Ms. Urueta has an idea. If Montserrat and Tristan help complete the project, maybe the curse can be lifted.

They agreed and things went well at first. Tristan is offered a big role. Urueta is offered a retrospective of her own work. Montserrat’s sister has recovered from cancer. However, their fortunes soon reverse and they are tormented by sudden visions, deafening silences and evil spirits. Montserrat is determined to decipher the dark magic and confront it head-on before the liquidation takes place. Tristan and Urueta rush behind her.

There are no subtleties left in this book. The budding slow romance between Tristan and Montserrat has been telegraphed from the beginning. Inner thoughts are projected so that the revelations are daunting, and important plot details are conveyed in rigid dialogue. Moreno-Garcia sue this world with endless references to actors, directors, horror films, occultists and Mexican corporations. At best, the film is his robust and haunting vision of 1990s Mexico City, whose cinematic scene has been hollowed out by neoliberal reforms and bad taste. Also, sometimes the details give weight to the story.

Central to the book is the specter of Nazism in Latin America, the subject of books, films, and mythology, especially in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, where many Nazis settled after World War II. Although their presence in Mexico was less prominent, the Nazis were still “in the air” until the 1960s, as Urueta claims. Moreno-Garcia reveals the compatibility of Nazi ideology with regional ideas about racial superiority, discrimination against indigenous peoples, and their aspirations. Mejoral La Raza — “The race just got better.”

After this throat clearing, the novel picks up to a numbing rhythm as Moreno-Garcia’s imaginative and carefully arranged paranormal mysteries unfold. The pages flow “directionlessly but confidently” as the protagonists search for clues to exorcise Nazi spirits and curses. Our only option is to follow each scene as it unfolds.

silver nitrate | Silvia Moreno-Garcia Page 318 | Del Rey | $28

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