Silver Nitrate

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 liveseven 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.

Published by Del Rey (USA)
Jul 18, 2023 
ISBN 9780593355367
Cover: Regina Flath, Penguin Random House


“I’d read hundreds of pages of just Montserrat and Tristán being cantankerously charming best friends, but add a cursed film and a secret society of sorcerers? Perfection. No one punctures the skin of reality to reveal the lurking, sinister magic beneath better than Silvia Moreno-Garcia.”

—Kiersten White, national bestselling author of Hide

“You don’t just read this book, you live in it–and it will charm you, intrigue you, and scare the daylights out of you.”

—Tim Powers, World Fantasy Award winning author of The Anubis Gates

Silver Nitrate is a popcorn thrill ride into the underbelly of 1990s Mexican horror movies and occultism. Moreno-Garcia crafts a world so rich with details and history that you won’t be able to look away. Beyond being a break-neck read, this is a book that forces readers to reckon with the monsters that scare us, on screen and in the shadows.”

—Dana Schwartz, author of Anatomy: A Love Story

“This is a knockout.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Hip as hell, Silver Nitrate delivers a cinematic and exhilarating punch. Silvia Moreno-Garcia does it again with this creepy and unforgettable occultist thriller, teeming with the decadence of old horror movies. It’s Mexico City in the nineties, where beepers, cigarettes, and the ghost of an ex-girlfriend come alive as if leaping from the page. I felt cooler just reading it.”

—Kali Fajardo-Anstine, bestselling author of Woman of Light and Sabrina & Corina

“Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a treasure and Silver Nitrate is a gem: a chilling roller coaster of a tale that captures perfectly why we love horror movies, scary books, and things that go bump in the night.”

—Chris Bohjalian, New York Times bestselling author of The Lioness

“The intricate plot is supported by a fully realized setting and seamlessly integrated information about the detailed work of sound editing.”


“An engaging, inventive story of moviemaking and the occult for film geeks and genre buffs.”


“A love letter to Mexico City’s film industry and an excellent entry into the popular horror subgenre of occult films.”

—Library Journal

“Moreno-Garcia’s affection for a nearly forgotten corner of film history, as well as her almost gleeful appreciation of occult arcana, are undeniable fun, as are her two engrossing main leads.”


“Best of all is Moreno-Garcia’s depiction of the poignant, lifelong friendship between Montserrat and Tristán, with its simmering romantic undercurrent, shared childhood language and adult resentments. Like its namesake, Silver Nitrate catches fire and doesn’t stop burning until the end.”

—The Washington Post

“In this summer’s treat, Silver Nitrate, Moreno-Garcia again deploys horror as a touchstone for a textured ghost story with surprising historical undertones while paying homage to a lesser-known progenitor of the form. True to her method, she succeeds here by knowing when to follow the rules of genre storytelling and when to turn them upside down.”

—Los Angeles Times

“Read Silver Nitrate on paper. Moreno-Garcia imbues the tangible qualities of physical books with a palpable, talismanic power, just as she does with the vinyl records and silver nitrate film within those novels. And if any ink happens to come off on your fingers, take that as further proof of her magic.”


“It’s not just that “Silver Nitrate” is as strong as her previous novels; Moreno-Garcia’s great strength as a writer is that every book is so different, in terms of genre and approach, as to make any side-by-side comparison utterly superfluous.”

—The Toronto Star