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Velvet Was the Night

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Mexico in the 1970s is a dangerous country, even for Maite, a secretary who spends her life seeking the romance found in cheap comic books and ignoring the activists protesting around the city. When her next-door neighbor, the beautiful art student Leonora, disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.

Mexico in the 1970s is a politically fraught land, even for Elvis, a goon with a passion for rock ’n’ roll who knows more about kidney-smashing than intrigue. When Elvis is assigned to find Leonora, he begins a blood-soaked search for the woman—and his soul.

Swirling in parallel trajectories, Maite and Elvis attempt to discover the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, encountering hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies. Because Mexico in the 1970s is a noir where life is cheap and the price of truth is high.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a simmering historical noir about a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome enforcer, and the mystery of the missing woman they’re both desperate to find.

289 pages, Hardcover

First published August 17, 2021

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About the author

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

145 books15.5k followers
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of several novels, including Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow and The Daughter of Doctor Moreau. She has also edited a number of anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows (a.k.a. Cthulhu's Daughters). Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination.

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Profile Image for Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
Author 145 books15.5k followers
May 3, 2022
May 2022: Out in paperback. The US edition comes with a moody stepback cover (second, interior cover) by Karla Ortiz.

A finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Selected for CBC Canada Reads longlist, one of the best books of the year according to The New York Times Book Review.

Velvet Was the Night is historical and noir. There is no SFF element.

Here is a book club kit with more info on the time period and background of this novel: http://www.randomhousebooks.com/wp-co...

What is noir?
This is a noir, not a thriller. Both genres get confused. The stakes in noirs are smaller. Nino Frank says noirs are "essentially psychological narratives with the action—however violent or fast-paced—less significant than faces, gestures, words—than the truth of the characters.”

Noir is also confused with its younger cousin, domestic noir. Domestic noirs tend to focus on upper class, white, women and often deal with the home as a space of danger/conflict. VELVET WAS THE NIGHT is historical, simmering noir and its theatre is not the domestic but a vast city in turmoil.

Brief thread on the noir on Twitter: https://twitter.com/silviamg/status/1....

Why is music important in this novel?
The Mexican government was engaged in the suppression of rock music in Mexico at the same time it was attacking students and activists.

Listen to the playlist at Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7oU...

What is the real life context of this novel?

The book takes place at the beginning of the Dirty War in Mexico. One of the POV characters, Elvis, is a member of The Hawks, this was a paramilitary group that was used by the Mexican government to attack, torture and kill protesters. He's not affiliated with organized crime. I say this because one of the early descriptions from my UK publisher said gangster. Not!

Were the romance comic books Maite reads a real thing?
Yup. Romance comic books in Mexico were huge. I've written a bit about comic books, albeit horror ones, here: https://www.tor.com/2020/07/15/mexica...
Profile Image for Yun.
505 reviews18k followers
March 3, 2022
You know that feeling, when you've become fully immersed in a story and you no longer realize you're just reading words on a page? Well, that feeling never came for me in Velvet Was the Night.

Maite is a self-centered girl, working as a secretary while waiting for a wealthy, attractive man to sweep her off her feet. El Elvis is a thug in the Hawks, whose sole purpose is to undermine activist students using whatever means necessary. When Maite's neighbor goes missing, their individual steps to find her slowly take them on an intersecting path toward each other and danger.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the other two books I'd read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and the writing in this one is as sharp as ever, somehow the story itself fell flat to me. I didn't connect with it at all. And I've been trying to figure out what happened ever since.

I think one issue is that I didn't really like the characters. Maite is off-putting to the extreme. She's the most awful combination of vain and vapid. She's extremely judgey of everyone on a superficial level while having nothing to offer, not even kindness. Meanwhile, Elvis seems only to care about rock and roll music in between beating up students for a paycheck. I just couldn't find even a sliver of connection to these two.

The other big issue is the book covers topics I'm fairly ambivalent about. I don't really enjoy reading about mobsters being cool or beating each other up. Nor do I enjoy reading about self-indulgent people preening and pitying themselves for their lack wealthy and good-looking boyfriends. Nor did I understand any of the references to Mexican government dysfunction during the 1970s. And with its numerous musical references, I didn't know one single song that was mentioned.

Without emotionally connecting with the story, this felt like a slog that wouldn't end. I don't want to dissuade anyone from reading this because I can imagine it being enjoyable for the right audience, but unfortunately, it wasn't me. I remain a fan of the author, but I'll avoid any more of her noir pulp fiction.

See also, my thoughts on:
Mexican Gothic
Gods of Jade and Shadow

This was a pick for my Book of the Month box. Get your first book for $5 here.
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
375 reviews2,779 followers
December 28, 2022
Maite is living a quite life as a secretary when her neighbor, Leonora, asks her to watch her cat for a few days. But Leonora never comes back. What happened to Leonora? Is she coming back? Where is she? Maite isn't the only one looking for Leonora either...

You know what I love about the movie Inception? That the ending isn't exactly clear. Many have debated if the main character was just dreaming or did he actually make it back home. Velvet Was The Night also had that open ending which really elevated this book to spectacular status. This book also felt unique in terms of the writing style, mixing in a bit of Spanish and Mexican history. Moreno-Garcia perfectly nailed some of the family relationships. I loved where the mother would call up her daughter and always find something to complain about and let her know that her other daughter was so vastly better. There is also a parakeet in this book, owned by Maite. Wow! What a beautiful use of symbolism! The bird sits in its cage all day, and it is capable of speaking but never does.

Now that I essentially just wrote a review about how Velvet Was the Night is the greatest thing since sliced bread, I will mention that the book was pretty slow at times. The book is focused on trying to find Leonora, but I think the characters spend way too much time on, "I don't know where she is. Do you?" Given the storyline, the book should have been trimmed down a bit.

Overall, a very satisfying book that will stay with me for months and possibly years to come! If you are looking for a unique read, look no further!

*Thank you, NetGalley, for a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

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Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,065 reviews38.1k followers
April 30, 2022
Why I kept falling in love with the book covers of Silvia Moreno Garcia’s! Isn’t this one gorgeous? Mexican Gothic’s cover is still my favorite but this smoky, mysterious vibes of the cover and author’s name made me dive into this one by going blind!

First of all: this is not paranormal, gothic thrillers just like some of her previous work! This is political thriller-historical fiction- emotional lonely hearts of broken people story!

The story takes places in 70’s of Mexico, centered on high tension political area because the incidents enacted by PRI Mexican Political party! Elvis is member of Hawks : a group is unofficially works for government during the Dirty War as Maite is clerical worker who hates her job, loves reading romance lovers, listening to records, thirty, single.

Both of their paths cross as they try to find missing Leonara ! Their intentions to find her are totally different. Maite wants to find her because she’s her roommate, Elvis wants to find her because she is supposed to keep dangerous photos that shouldn’t be revealed! As you can imagine they have been dragged into very dangerous situation by looking for the girl.

Even though this action packed, intense political thriller, it’s also a book about two lonely hearts try to survive in the wild, dangerous jungle. Especially Maite’s evolving, changing, awakening to see the realities of her country, her self discovery were well developed.

I normally enjoyed the author’s paranormal thrillers more but she meticulously succeeded to form a good story and showed us she could perfectly write in different genres.

I loved both of the characters. The pacing was still intriguing. I never get bored till the end. That’s why I’m giving my whirlwind, exciting, powerful, fast pacing, four viva Mexico stars!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group/ Ballantine/Del Rey for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Profile Image for Robin.
284 reviews1,217 followers
September 24, 2021
↠ 5 stars

It’s 1971, and in Mexico City, a quiet secretary becomes embroiled in a complicated plot linked to the political unrest currently transforming the town. All Maite wants is to escape into the latest issue of Secret Romance; with every passing page, she can feel the world's problems fade away as she is swept up in tales of passion and danger. When her beautiful next-door neighbor asks her for a favor, and then mysteriously disappears, Maite attempts to put together the pieces and finds herself drawn deeper into Leonora’s secret life and something far more insidious. Across town, someone else is tasked with tracking down Leonora, a commander of a squad created to quell political activists. Elvis wants nothing more than to leave his life behind; he cares little for the violence that comes with the job, but when he encounters Maite on his search for Leonora, he begins to envision just what that life could be. As tensions escalate on both sides, two individuals united by loneliness will have to fight with everything they have, for the chance at a future they've been waiting for.

Velvet Was the Night is a riveting historical crime noir that swept me up in its lush descriptions and complex characters consistent with everything else its author has written thus far. While this book is much different than Moreno-Garcia’s previous six novels, it stays true to much of what made her other works so impressionable: profound characters and her general talent for storytelling. This is a novel that draws upon the intrigue to an almost impossible point, fraying the minute hold I had on everything that was happening, and leaving me unaware of what to expect next. Among the complicated alliances and brimming hostility, Moreno-Garcia captures a profound loneliness in each of her characters, a loneliness that propels them forward even when facing dangerous circumstances. Elvis and Maite specifically, have an underlying bond that is only strengthened by the things they are experiencing. Something that added a much-needed lightheartedness to an already intense story. Utilizing dual perspectives creates a kind of split viewpoint in the novel, juxtaposed against the exterior of the Dirty War only beginning to escalate in the small period of time in which this takes place. I’m not sure what this would have looked like if it only centered around one character's perspective, the outsider or the inside man. Both are necessary to craft the picture that Moreno-Garcia so brilliantly captures in the story. Even the connection between the two main characters is only strengthened by the existence of an alternating point of view, aiding in their respective development from start to finish. Having never read noir before, I can safely say I am planning on continuing given how much I enjoyed this. Silvia Moreno-Garcia has once again demonstrated her ability to write incredible stories in almost any genre, and I have no doubt her next project is going to be just as remarkable. Her seventh novel gives a glimpse into two lonely people living vastly different lives, and the potential they have to become something more together.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review

Trigger warnings: guns, violence, blood, death, murder
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,423 reviews8,962 followers
January 8, 2023
**3.5-stars rounded up**

Maite works as a legal secretary in 1970s-Mexico City. But that's just her day job. At night she reads romantic comics and dreams of a different life for herself.

Elvis is an enforcer for a group called the Hawks, whose main objective is to suppress political activists within the city. His life is surrounded by violence.

Elvis is also dreaming for more; maybe to be more like the King himself, Elvis Presley.

Elvis and Maite are about to have their lives intertwined, all because of a girl named, Leonora.

Leonora is a beauty, a free-spirit, a student, an artist. She lives across the hall from Maite. Although the two have never really socialized, Leonora comes to Maite one day for a favor and then disappears.

Intrigued by the young woman's disappearance, Maite begins looking into Leonora's life. The mystery infuses Maite's life with an excitement she's never really had before.

Elvis is looking for Leonora as well, but for completely different reasons. His employer is desperate to find Leonora in order to gain access to something he believes she is in possession of.

During the course of his hunt, Elvis begins to notice the quiet, mousey woman living in Leonora's building. There's something about her that he is drawn to.

As the narrative evolves the two strangers begin to orbit closer and closer together, but will they collide?

Velvet Was the Night wasn't what I expected, although that's my own fault. This is true noir, take that seriously. It's a slow burn, with relatively low-stakes.

The tone is lush, the narrative richly-atmospheric. Initially, I wasn't sold. It starts slow. I was wondering where it was going, when it was going to pick up and while I was wondering that, Moreno-Garcia was subtly sucking me in.

The next thing I knew, I was being transported to Mexico City. I was fully immersed within this story, with the characters, with their inner musings. I couldn't put it down.

It was a unique reading experience for me. I don't read a lot of books like this and while I really enjoyed it, it still won't be a genre I will seek out.

I feel like the magic of this for me was in Moreno-Garcia's writing; it was the way it unfolded, the beauty behind the slow drama of it all. It's a special book, although admittedly, not for everyone.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

While not necessarily in my comfort zone, I did really enjoy my time reading this one and will continue to pick up anything Silvia Moreno-Garcia writes!!
Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
877 reviews3,015 followers
September 9, 2022
With this stunning cover and engaging title, I expected an amazing story as well. I love Silvia's mexican gothic so much. It was one of my fav book of last year. So naturally I had really high expectations.

I will be honest, I have never watched/read an noir before. So I looked up the possible tropes and I felt this book didn't even slightly touched many of them.

I found this one rather boring. Because I guess I was expecting something mysterious and something paranormal like her previous books.

The characters were boring and went through no character development. They felt flat to me, a bit cartoonish at times even.
The characters didn't even met till the very end of the book.The romance angle wasn't good as well. It was boring.

The story premises was interesting but I think it wasn't developed properly.

The narration was so boring. Like the first 75% was uninteresting but then the last 25% was where the story actually picked pace but that too because everybody was moving and there was so much going on. There were a lot of inner monologues and dialogues which I found rather repetitive and tedious.

I used the word boring many times in this book. So that's gonna be my final review for this one.


But on the other hand I got to learn about Mexico in 70s so that was a plus point and major takeaway for me.
Profile Image for Melissa ~ Bantering Books.
164 reviews693 followers
August 27, 2021
Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews.

She wondered what kind of story started like this.

Well, if the story is anything like Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s latest novel, Velvet Was the Night, I would say it’s noir and pulp fiction. It’s the kind of story that stars a government thug named Elvis, a romance comic fanatic named Maite, and a missing woman. It’s the kind of story that transports you to 1970s Mexico during the politically-charged Dirty War.

And it’s the kind of story that is nothing like Moreno-Garcia’s 2020 hit, Mexican Gothic. Velvet Was the Night is a crime novel, and a slow burner at that. If you pick it up expecting another tale of supernatural horror, you will be sorely disappointed.

But if you go into it for what it is – a compelling, intricate, superbly-written noir mystery – you’re in for a hella good read.

What makes it so great is the characters. Moreno-Garcia has truly outdone herself with Elvis and Maite, and their eccentric, dynamic personalities offset the slower pace of the story. They are fascinating in their gray morals and dishonorable intentions, yet likable and sympathetic enough to keep us reading when not much is happening on the page.

And they both have the MOST EXCELLENT taste in music. Seriously, their record collections are to die for.

Velvet Was the Night will not be for everyone, though. And many of the reasons why I loved it are exactly why some readers won’t.

It’s not exhilarating. Or shocking. It’s not filled to the brim with breathtaking twists.

It’s just good, old-fashioned, solid storytelling. And I’ll take that over a cheap thrill any day.

My sincerest appreciation to Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Del Rey, and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy. All opinions included herein are my own.

Bantering Books
Profile Image for jessica.
2,476 reviews29.6k followers
March 29, 2021
SMG is exactly right when she says this is a historical noir novel.

while the heart of this story is a mystery, and one thats no stranger to violence, the stakes do feel low and the pacing is on the slower side. and though this fits the mood and atmosphere of the story perfectly, i just think i prefer more suspenseful and fast-paced contemporary mystery/thrillers.

so although i wasnt quite invested in the content of the story (i often found myself skimming through the elvis gangster chapters), i always appreciate how SMG sets the tone in her books. its consistent throughout and i have no doubt noir and pulp fiction fans will enjoy this.

thanks random house/del ray for the ARC!

3 stars
Profile Image for Taylor Reid.
Author 18 books124k followers
October 6, 2021
A suspenseful novel centering on Maite, Elvis, and Lenora—brought together when Lenora goes missing. As Maite and Elvis combine their search, they discover Lenora might have had incriminating secrets against a powerful official. Secrets that some people will go to great, and dangerous, lengths to keep buried. Check this one out if you’re in the mood for a gritty, historical noir!
Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews2,679 followers
September 21, 2021
Pro tip: Read the last few pages of Velvet Was the Night first. Go on… open the book up, flip to the back, and read the Afterword and Author’s Spotify Playlist. If you’re then compelled to turn back to page one and dive in, this will likely be a solid atmospheric historical fiction reading experience for you.

As author Silvia Moreno-Garcia explains in the Afterword, her latest novel “is noir, pulp fiction, but it’s based on a real horror story.” The story of focus is that of the Dirty War, when the Mexican government abducted, tortured, incarcerated, and murdered citizen activists in the 1970s through a group known as the Brigada Blanca. Rock music was also a casualty, as backlash against it was a symbolic way for the government to tighten its grip on the nation. Moreno-Garcia’s curated mood-setting playlist includes songs like Jailhouse Rock, Eleanor Rigby, and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.

Her fictional story is set in Mexico City and focuses on a romance comic-obsessed secretary named Maite who gets caught up in the disappearance of her beautiful neighbor and meets a reluctant thug named Elvis who’s also trying to find her. There’s violence, a little sex, loads of naughty words, and a lot of intrigue.

There’s also beautiful writing, which makes me eager to read more of the author’s books. I just didn’t connect at all to the characters or the content of this one. Had I read the end of the book before starting the beginning, I would have known this particular story wasn’t a great fit for me.

My thanks to Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Random House Publishing / Ballantine Books for providing an advance copy to review via NetGalley. Velvet Was the Night is now available.

Blog: https://www.confettibookshelf.com/
Profile Image for Holly  B (busy month catching up).
788 reviews1,739 followers
September 20, 2021

Noir Fiction + Historical Fiction + Suspense= MOOD

I went in blind and probably wouldn't have picked it up if I had read the synopsis. I saw it sitting lonely on the library "new releases" shelf and it was just too gorgeous to leave behind. "I'll take you home......."

I was hooked from the first few chapters..... the mysterious/smoky tone, unusual characters (not your neighbor next door types) and the 1970's Mexico City setting.

Maite is the nervous, lonely secretary who adores Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. She spends her spare moments reading her Secret Romance comics. She is beside herself that a favorite character falls into a coma. It was funny how she would sneak moments of reading in at work. I've never heard of romance comics, but after googling them I was able to see many varieties. I loved her character and her chapters were my favorite. She was like a "Cinderella, dreaming".

Maite's neighbor Leonora disappears and leaves her keys and instructions to feed her cat. She nevers comes home, leaving Maite on a dangerous path.

Everyone is looking for Leonora, including a paramilitary group, and other unsavory thugs. Maite is caught up in the unfortunate events.

A slow burn, but for me the pace was just right. There is some action, violence with the thugs going at each other, a traitor, and a anti-hero that I was pulling for. I also learned some Mexican history during the Dirty War.

Library loan/ Read in September 2021
Profile Image for Elle.
584 reviews1,248 followers
August 18, 2021
I’m not even sure how I got ahold of an ARC of this book. In a year full of incredible releases this was easily in my top 3 most anticipated of 2021. Luckily my good friends Natalie and Carmen also got early copies, so we decided to read them together!

live video of us reading

But before I begin this review I’m going to do a bit of a preface—If you are already a Silvia Moreno-Garcia fan then I’m sure you’ll love this. If the only work of hers you’re familiar with is Mexican Gothic then it may diverge from your expectations. While Mexican Gothic was a slow-burn gothic horror novel set in the 1950s, Velvet Was the Night is a crime noir that takes place in 1971 Mexico City. It’s not a thriller. There’s nothing paranormal. And if those are deal breakers then this might not be the book for you.

One of the things I love about Moreno-Garcia’s writing, though, is that she never does the same thing twice. And for that reason it’s really difficult to anticipate what direction the story is going to take. Velvet Was the Night was an engrossing journey through a tumultuous period in Mexican history, and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.

Before even the first chapter of the book, there’s a (real) telegram from the CIA describing a paramilitary group known as Los Halcones (the Hawks) and their actions as unofficial enforcers of the Mexican government. The Corpus Christi Massacre, or El Halconazo (The Hawk Strike), took place on June 10, 1971 in Mexico City. A group of students were protesting and marching when they were attacked by their own government in an effort to control and eliminate dissent from left-wing organizations. My own cursory research puts the death toll at almost 120 killed and hundreds more injured, but the exact number remains unknown. This event was part of a larger campaign known as the Mexican Dirty War, where the Mexican government, backed by the United States, waged an unofficial war on leftist students and guerrilla operations.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well the majority of the novel is set after these events, but I feel as though having some background on the political climate at the time adds a lot of important context. When examining the choices that characters make you have to keep in mind that there was a current of fear surrounding even the suggestion of opposition, and that fear ended up being well warranted.

The story is split between alternating perspectives of two main characters. Maite is working as a secretary in a law firm, and feels content only when reading her favorite comic Secret Romance or listening to records from her extensive collection. She’s intentionally uninformed about current events in general until a favor she does for a neighbor thrusts her into the middle of a conflict she’s unprepared to navigate on her own. On the other hand, Elvis knows exactly what he’s signed up for. As a member of the Hawks, he was there for the bloodshed and is still dealing with the ramifications of his choices during it. Slowly, Silvia Moreno-Garcia weaves these two characters’ stories together, testing existing loyalties and building new alliances.

There’s a moderate amount of action in this book, but a lot of it is sleuthing, inner-dialogue and tense character interactions. The story evolves as the characters wade into various shades of moral grey and I was genuinely shocked by a couple major twists at the end. But like I said earlier, this is not going to be a punchy, heart-pounding thriller. I’d say out of all of Moreno-Garcia’s books that I’ve read so far, it’s the closest in tone to Untamed Shore, which makes sense as it’s also a noir and set during the 1970s.

Still, this book has a vibe all its own and I appreciated learning some of Mexico’s more recent history while being thoroughly entertained. I loved this book, and I think a lot of other readers are going to enjoy their time with it.

*Thanks so much to Del Rey Books & Random House for an advance review copy!

**For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
549 reviews3,753 followers
July 2, 2022
Es que a ver, de verdad, ¿puede tener personajes más increíblemente brutales? no creo. Hacía tiempo que no me encontraba con un libro protagonizado por personajes tan bien escritos y al mismo tiempo tan locos y fascinantes.
Maite me parece uno de los personajes más interesantes sobre los que he leído en mucho tiempo. Y Elvis no es menos. Y por otro lado lo que los he shippeado...
La historia de misterio en sí me ha parecido interesante y los puntos de contexto en el México de los años 70, la corrupción y violencia están muy bien planteados, pero si he amado tanto este libro ha sido por los personajes y esa atmosfera noir que se palpa en cada página.
Pd. El final es redondo pero POR DIOS QUE NECESITO UNA SECUELA
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
880 reviews760 followers
July 16, 2022
4 stars

Another unstoppable novel from an author who can seemingly tackle any genre. Crime noir, interesting characters, and a plot that moves at the pace of a snail and yet captivates your attention. A very interesting read.

Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★
Characters: ★★★★
Plot: ★★★★

Velvet Was the Night is a study in interesting contradictions wrapped around a "true horror story," as the author notes in their afterword. I found it to be utterly compelling even despite of a few personal quirks.

Maite is a 30-year-old woman in 1970s Mexico City. She lives in an apartment that she can't really afford, she works as a dictation secretary in a law office she doesn't like, and she's desperate for love and yet unwilling to open herself up to the possibility of finding it.

She's not a likeable character, to be honest. But I didn't care—she was interesting. And interesting people are fun to follow within a story.

When her neighbor, the beautiful and artistic Leonora, asks Maite to watch her cat while she leaves town for a few days, Maite reluctantly agrees. Maite has no idea how that one decision will change her life.

Leonora doesn't return. And things in Mexico City are about to boil over into a political nightmare with Maite, of all people, somehow at the center of the story.

Entwined with Maite's story is the story of Elvis, a young man working for the Hawks, a shady, guerilla/gangsterized form of enforcers operating in the shadows of the current Mexican regime. Elvis fell into the line of work when his petty thieving brought him to the attention of the wrong people, and now he's embroiled in the drama whether he wants to be or not. And Elvis isn't quite sure he wants to be involved these days.

As Maite's and Elvis' lives meld into one noir narrative bubbling with intrigue, Velvet Was the Night embarks on a simmering adventure.

Now, I'm starting from a place of bias when I say that I love Silvia Moreno-Garcia already. I'm primed to—at a minimum—enjoy their work as I love the writing style and their way of delving into character development. This novel was no exception. I loved it too.

Velvet Was the Night was a different kind of Moreno-Garcia read, however, and I'm still chewing on the why. For one thing, it took Moreno-Garcia's already slowwww pacing and dialed it down even further. Which I didn't know was possible. Let's be honest: I struggled with the slowness of the pacing for the first half of the book because it was just that—tooooooo slowwwwww.

But then the simmering, never-at-rest and yet slow-as-heck vibe started to get to me. I was hooked, and even though I still wanted the ride to go faster, I was getting into it as a slow burn. Good synonyms for this story: simmering, digesting, creeping, enveloping. Slow and steady wins the RACE, y'all.

I also had a bit of a harder time with this novel as the characters weren't who I wanted them to be. I don't know why, maybe it's society's expectations or stereotypes of the genre or something else, but the fact that Maite and Elvis continued to thwart my expectations of them (sometimes even in negative ways) just really took me aback. Looking back on the reading experience, I liked that about the novel. But during the read I found it frustrating.

See what I mean? Contradictions. An odd, lingering, inescapable story. Another winner.

Silvia, what WILL you write next??? I am already waiting.

Thank you to Del Rey for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Debra .
2,125 reviews34.9k followers
August 19, 2021
"My novel is noir, pulp fiction, but it's based on a real horror story."

A daydreaming secretary, an enforcer, and a missing woman they are trying to find.

1970s, Mexico City

Maite is a secretary who escapes the student protests and political unrest by escaping into the pages of the latest issue of Secret Romance. Her next-door neighbor, Lenora is beautiful young art student who appears to live a life of intrigue and romance like what Maite reads about. When Lenora disappears, Maite goes looking for her and delves deeper into her secret life.

"life's a mess."

Elvis is a member of the Hawks which is a group run by the government. He is a criminal who loathes violence. When it becomes known that Lenora has photos that the government do not want to be seen, El Mago, Elvis's boss sends him and his crew to get those pictures. While looking for the Lenora and the pictures, Maite catches his eye and Elvis' eye especially when he learns of the things they have in common. Needless to say, both of their searches are dangerous - more dangerous than they could ever imagine!

"How do stories end?"

This one ended and had me wishing I could begin another book by this author right away. Silvia Moreno-Garcia did a brilliant job of blending fiction with historical events. You can read her Author's note at the end as she details the events. She caught my eye with Mexican Gothic and I became a bigger fan with this book - I have to say I enjoyed this one more.

This book grabbed me from the get -go and held my attention! It's a little slower than most books I enjoy. I am typically not a fan of slow burns – they annoy me. But as I mentioned, this one grabbed me, and I didn't mind the slow start as things did pick up and got interesting. I found this book to be beautifully written, gripping, well thought out and riveting. Both Maite and Elvis are likeable characters. We get to know them individually and their stories until eventually their stories collide. I rooted for each.

**Plus, how about that cover. Both of the books I have read by her have the most beautiful and intriguing covers!

Captivating, atmospheric and violent.

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group/ Ballantine/Del Rey and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com
Profile Image for Simone James.
Author 10 books11.4k followers
August 3, 2021
I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this, and here is what I said:
“Velvet Was the Night is a delicious, twisted treat for lovers of noir. Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a masterful writer who pulls you into her dark world and never lets you go. From the suspenseful, slow-burn plot to the crisp, desperate characters, you will be obsessed.”
Profile Image for Jenny Lawson.
Author 12 books16.7k followers
May 4, 2021
4.5 stars. I feel bad not giving this 5 stars because if you like noir it is absolutely a 5 star read. I don't love noir but I love Silvia Moreno-Garcia and I enjoyed the book in spite of the genre and that's saying something.

Profile Image for Jananie (thisstoryaintover).
290 reviews12.8k followers
October 16, 2021
not my favourite of the author's books but still a compelling read with fantastically written characters. I love how Maite's inner personality did not match her outer countenance and I loved the starry eyed faith that Elvis had in people. As the Silvia says in her author's note, her novel is "noir, pulp fiction, but it's based on a real horror story." And that horror story is the political persecution of activists by the Mexican government during this time period.
September 16, 2021
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DISCLAIMER: as I did not like Velvet Was the Night my review will be, alas, a negative one. If you are a fan of SMG or you happen to love this novel, congratulazioni. Please, don’t @ me just because I don’t feel the same way as you do, I get it, YMMV. If you are interested in reading this novel I recommend you check out more positive reviews.

I think this novel is confirmation that SMG’s books are not for me. I want to love what she writes but so far, I find her books to be a source of great frustration. Her female characters strike me as an amalgamation of Not Like Other Girls/Mary Sues/Cinderella-like-figures, there tends to be a total lack of female solidarity (in the case of mexican gothic we barely get any scenes featuring the two female characters who are supposedly meant to be close), and, out of the three books I’ve read by her, there have been no queer characters.

After seeing that Velvet Was the Night was going to be a noir novel I found myself actually looking forward to reading it as I happen to enjoy noir books, such as the ones penned by Walter Mosley. The cover, title, and premise of Velvet Was the Night were certainly alluring. I mean, covers like this one are pretty much my Achilles’ heel. My expectations weren’t that high given my history with SMG's works...and yet, even so, I still ended up being fairly disappointed by Velvet Was the Night.

In this foray into the noir genre, SMG once again transports her readers to 20th Mexico. This time around the action takes place in Mexico City during the 1970s, aka during Mexico’s ‘Dirty War’, a period of civil unrest, with student demonstrators and civilians clashing against and being persecuted/disappeared/massacred by the government.
30-something Maite is a plain, dowdy, and downtrodden secretary who dreams of adventure and romance. Not only does her family care zilch for her (because , of course, ), but everyone seems to overlook her. Her one joy is reading Secret Romance comics. Through these, she can briefly escape her ‘miserable’ existence. She spends most of her time fantasizing about the kind of romance, passion, drama that fills those stories & playing her own teensy-tiny violin. She occasionally gets a thrill by stealing people’s belongings (such a bad girl), but for the most part, she’s a quiet, bookish, plain jane. When her beautiful neighbour, artsy student Leonora, disappears Maite sets out to find her. Not out of concern, but because she was tasked with cat-sitting Leonora’s cat and she isn’t planning on doing so gratis (this line...“Maite would be damned if she was going to also be paying for meow-meow’s cuisine.” meow-meow? wow, sick burn maite). Her ‘detective’ skills leave a lot to be desired. She spends the remainder of her narrative going on about how plain and pathetic she is, how much she loves Secret Romance, how every other woman has it better than she does (i mean, she can’t afford to get her car repaired!) and imagining herself being with the two guys who happen to have been involved with the missing neighbour. One of them is more handsome than the other. That’s it.
We also get chapters following Elvis, a thug who isn’t like other thugs. You see, whereas his fellow goons enjoy beating people up, he doesn’t. He’s part of an enforcer group with ties to the government. As suggested by his nickname Elvis adores ‘the King’, rock ’n’ roll. He also likes old-timey movies. He’s just a nice guy really. His boss tells him to find Leonora as she may have some incriminating photos. As he’s looking for her, Elvis also observes Maite, and eventually becomes vaguely infatuated with her.


Before I move to the reasons why I did not vibe with this, I will try and mention a few positive-ish things:
✓ the cover and title get top marks
✓ I do admire SMG for switching between genres rather than sticking to one and for bringing her own style to said genre
✓ the atmosphere at times was on point (even if it did try too hard to be gritty and edgy)
✓ the music (SMG included a playlist with some really solid choices)
✓ some of the descriptions were actually pretty great and certainly fitted in with the noir aesthetic
✓ the sense of place & time were fairly strong
✓ the political commentary
✓ the ending’s open-ended nature

Now, for the things that were no good to me:

I’m all for slow-burn narratives but here the pacing never really took off. The plot consists of a series of incredibly repetitive scenes. Maite is with man numero 1 or man numero 2. She’s irritated by him, no, wait, she actually wants him. She comes across activists and grows slightly more aware of the world around her. That’s it. Elvis spends his portion of the story tailing Maite or others and dissing his ‘colleagues’ (who unlike him, a heart of gold do not have). While the author does address how fraught this period of time was in Mexico, I wanted more out of the story. I would have liked more interesting characters and more diverse interactions between them (instead of getting the same two characters speaking to each other).
The narrative is also repetitive when it comes to reiterating the same information about the characters. SMG already established early on what Maite and Elvis are like: Maite is plain and Elvis kind of wants out of the crime life. Yet, time and time again we read the same stuff about them. Maite goes on and on and on about how much she likes Secret Romance and how unsatisfied she is by her lamentably unromantic existence. Elvis just wants someone who shares his musical taste and maybe also a way out of his rather lonely lifestyle. I got this in the very first 20% of the book. Yet, I was confronted with this same info throughout my reading of this novel. I found them to be really insipid. They were, for the most part, passive. Things happen to them. Their arcs were as flat as their personalities.
The missing woman aspect of the storyline was similarly underwhelming. Leonora’s disappearance lacked oomph. I never felt any apprehension on her behalf because Maite doesn’t give two shits about her (so why should i bring myself to care?). She was also portrayed in such a snidey way....
Sadly, overall, I found this story to be dull & predictable. Nothing of note truly happens and I felt little to no suspense. I would have liked it more if the story had had a more tangible air of mystery. The story also felt vaguely vanilla? There is some violence and some swearing but other than that...eh, the tone of the story seemed rather juvenile. The narrative is very much intent on impressing upon us that tis’ noir. Sometimes, this works, but, sometimes it just struck me as a tad overdone and distracting almost.

Maite maite maite….why why why did you have to be such a woe-is-me whinging whiner? Her character actually had potential I believe. I was hoping that the author would subvert this trope of the ‘plain and lonely secretary dreaming of romance’ but she sadly does not. The cover made me think that along the way Maite would slowly or drastically transform into a femme fatale or would become more self-assured and proactive behaviours. She does neither of these things. She remains very much the same by the end. She doesn’t grow or regress. To me, she was still recognisably the same Maite we met on the very first pages (note: emphasis on the ‘to me’). Very early in the narrative SMG establishes that Maite is overlooked by her family with a very ‘subtle’ scene in which her mother bakes or buys a chocolate cake for her birthday even if she knows that Maite doesn’t like chocolate. She’s served for last (if i recall) and given a small slice or something. Her mother also doesn’t care about helping her out with her car repair payments and compares her unfavourably to ‘your sister’ (who is married & with children). These scenes were meant to make us feel sympathetic towards Maite but they just succeeded in irritating me.
Maite isn’t beautiful or charismatic, nor does she have any friends (because of course). She spends most of her time envying other women, making judgy comments about their appearance (often implying that they lead easier lives than she does or have more luck). Other women are sexy, slim, provocative, without a care in the world. Maite isn’t that interested in politics and prefers reading comics or romance books. Someone describes them as syrupy or sappy or whatnot and she gets all flustered saying that they aren’t. Look, I’m all for escapist reads. But, there is no denying that the stuff she reads is sappy. Why pretend otherwise? It would have been more satisfying if in her defence of these comics/books Maite had pointed out how horrible and violent the ‘real’ world is, and why shouldn’t she wish to ‘escape’ it? And so what if she likes sappy love stories?
The fact of the matter is: I disliked her. She was that special brand of annoying that always acts like a victim. Everyone else is mean to her. They are either taking advantage of her (like leonora and her ‘men’) or mistreating her (her family). I would have loved her if she had been explicitly written as unlikeable. She could have been a modern Emma Bovary. Someone who is so determined to make her daydreams into her reality that she’s ready to sabotage her own marriage and reputation to do so. Emma is a bitch, but I love her. The narrative is quite clear in pointing out that she’s selfish and vain. Emma’s nastiness was quite subversive & refreshing. But here, well, Maite is just a crybaby, a nonentity. She claims that she’s pathetic and boring but then we have Elvis pointing out how ‘interesting’ she seems. The narrative seemed intent on making her seem ‘different’ and ‘more relatable’ than other women.
Maite did not strike me (again, emphasis on ‘me’) as a deep or fleshed out character. Yet, she was presented as being this complex woman who is caught in a ‘dangerous’ web. I wish she’d been written as being a wholly superficial and self-serving individual. Someone who is only concerned in making her fantasies into her reality. Or, as I said above, as someone who goes from being a tremulous meek & mousy woman who is unsure of herself, to a femme fatale type of figure. In scenes of ‘tension’ (when she is fighting with that guy) she either makes petulant remarks (which were frankly cringy given that he’s still a student and she’s in her 30s) or acts like the classic ‘fragile’ and ‘hysterical’ woman who can’t defend herself or speak up or use her brain to figure out stuff.
Elvis...I don’t have much to say about him. I could not take him seriously for the most part. Suffice it to say that he struck me as the type of male character female authors write. He isn’t particularly smart or kind, but really, he isn’t all that bad given that, unlike his ‘mates’, he doesn’t love violence. Also, he’s into music...clearly, that makes him deep...right?
The secondary characters are very much cardboard cutouts. The women are all horrible and catty. The men are either thick, douchebags, or fuckbois.

While at times I liked SMG’s prose, her style strikes me as passive. That is to say that when she recounts something I feel very much at a distance from what she’s recounting (even if that thing is happening there and then).

good vs. evil/morality
Clearly bad characters are revealed to be in fact bad. While our good characters have one or two ‘reasonable’ flaws (she steals now and again, he’s working for the ‘baddies’) that are meant to humanise them, said flaws don’t change the fact that they are very much the good ones. Our MCs were not the morally grey characters I'd hoped they'd be (esp. given that the noir genre lends itself well to ambiguous characters).

All in all, this novel was a vexing read. The story was boring and clichéd and the characters thinly rendered caricatures. As mentioned early on, the lack of female solidarity and lgbtq+ characters also frustrated me (can we stop pitting women against each other?).

I give up with SMG’s books. I wish the author nothing but the best and I’m happy to see that many other readers can appreciate her work in a way I’ve so far been unable to. Her novels are just not for me.
Profile Image for Mari.
697 reviews4,296 followers
January 5, 2022

Moreno-Garcia's ability to swing from fantasy to horror to mystery to historical is unparalleled. Her books always exist at some crossroad between those genres and while I certainly have my favorites, I've never left a Moreno-Garcia book disappointed.

Why you may not like this book: This is a slow burn, noir mystery populated by morally gray characters whose motivations for tracking down a missing woman are very self-interested. Moreno-Garcia's works tend to be very descriptive, though each of them has felt descriptive in different ways. Here, there is a really wordy narrative style. Our main characters thoughts wander, they describe their surroundings with as many words as they describe their feelings, and it sets that smoky, lazy tone and pace of this noir.

Why I enjoyed this book: Maite and Elvis were characters that I found it difficult to look away from. I won't say I liked them, per se, but they were memorable. If anything, this book most closely resembles Certain Dark Things to me because Maite and Elvis feel very similar to Atl and Domingo.

I found myself in the same place as our main characters-- while the plot was complex and interesting, I too did not care if we ever found the missing girl. I was happy to vibe with the sadness, with the emotions of unfulfilled lives and fantasies, and with the worries of feeling stuck with bad choices as only choices.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,166 reviews1,213 followers
September 20, 2021
"She imagined herself as an outlaw, far from civilization, while the moon, like a single unblinking eye, stared down at her. A man stood up and picked a song from the jukebox. Blue Velvet."

Sometimes the melody sets the tone and all the other notes follow in a certain sequence. Velvet Was the Night does just that as it prepares us for a loud upcoming crescendo. While people tend to lean into the familiar and recognizable, these intricate characters are forced to march to a different drum.....way different.

It's the 1970's in Mexico City and Maite starts and ends her day, every day, in the same robotic manner. She works as a secretary in a law firm where the majority of the time she is running errands for the top lawyers or shuffling papers across her desk. Maite circles the Help Wanted Ads in the hope that something will prompt her to better her mundane life manipulated by her mother and overbearing sister.

But her life is about to change with a simple: Meow! The girl who rents the apartment across the hall begs Maite to feed her cat while she's out of town for a few days. Leonora promises to pay her well. And money is what Maite needs in order to pay the mechanic for the release of her car. But Leonora is a no-show after the designated time. More days go by until the elusive Leonora calls begging Maite to bring a package and her cat to a certain address. Leonora never arrives.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia presents a well-crafted storyline based on true events in Mexico City. The 1970's brought student unrest as activists took to the streets. The government, in turn, sent goons to stop any uprisings and the result was chaos and bloodshed. Read the Afterword at the end by this author to get a clearer picture of what actually took place.

As Maite leaves the comfort of her tiny apartment to search for Leonora, we'll observe a great transformation happening within Maite. Her timid nature is thrown to the wayside as she comes face-to-face with questionable individuals from the streets. Her Secret Romance magazines pale in comparison to this new real life elbowing its way in. And we'll meet the oddly disjointed character of Elvis who's staking out her apartment. He has a crazy backstory of his own.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia always blesses us with gorgeous bookcovers. But then, I'd still grab her books even if they were just wrapped in brown paper. It's the good stuff, oh the good stuff, that's always inside. Unusually complicated original characters, a highly developed plot, and we readers yearning for more. That's just the way to do it.
Profile Image for Shannara.
436 reviews73 followers
January 11, 2022
It took a while for me to really get into this, but when I did, it took off and didn’t stop!! Maite was such a strange protagonist that I didn’t really related to her until she started looking into Leonora’s disappearance with Rúben. And he wasn’t that interesting for a long time too. In fact, Maite annoyed the crud out of me cause while her life is boring, she’s not the best person ever. Her redeeming qualities were… well, slim to none! But once they really got into searching for Leonora, I got hooked and started to like her more.

El Elvis, on the other hand, was fairly interesting from the start. He had such an unconventional background that I couldn’t help but be curious of how his story was going to go. I really liked him once we learn of his history. The rest of the characters weren’t that intriguing, but the three carry the story nicely once you get to about 50% of the way in.

When they really get into the mystery, things just don’t stop. And there’s action, intrigue, a little romance, and some suspense too. A lot of political drama is going on all the while, which is based on the actual history, which makes it more worthwhile.

If you need to be hooked in the beginning, this is definitely not for you. But if you can hang in there till about 50% of the way in, this is well worth the time. It went from being a 3 star read to being a 4 1/2 star read in my mind. I seriously enjoyed that last half!!

So I recommend this to those who enjoy a good action/ mystery novel with a few other genres that are thrown in. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, and Sylvia Moreno-Garcia for the opportunity to read this for my honest and unbiased opinion.
Profile Image for Whitney Erwin.
190 reviews
April 16, 2021

First off, I have to say the cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous. I love it so much. This is my 2nd SMG book, I read Mexican Gothic and loved it. Going into this one, I knew it was a different genre than Mexican Gothic and that it would be much different. With that being said, I do not think the noir genre is for me. This book was well written and SMG is an amazing author, but the historical noir genre is just not my style. It wasn’t suspenseful enough for me and I just didn’t feel myself connecting with the book and the characters. I am glad I gave this book a read and tried the noir genre. Even though this one wasn’t for me, I will definitely be reading any future SMG books.

Thank you to Net Galley, Random House Publishing and Ballantine books for an Advanced Read copy in return for my honest review.
Profile Image for Karina.
765 reviews
August 5, 2022
He needed the money. Needed the gig. If he wasn't a Hawk he'd be a damn delinquent, a thief, a nothing. He needed the hope that at the end of the tunnel there was a place like this, safe and cozy. A little apartment with a piano and beautiful furniture and pictures in silver frames. (PG. 166)

I love the historical background in Moreno-Garcia's novels. She is retelling Mexican history with her imagined characters and their dilemmas. This alone fascinates me. I have previously read 'Violeta' by Isabel Allende and it had this same theme where the United States comes in and ruins the country over their "obsession" of stopping communism and kills innocent people and protesters. And then acts like they are not involved and thanks the idiot president and walks away scott-free. The more you know....

Anyway, I didn't connect with the characters and I didn't care for their dilemma. I felt like I was watching the story but I was never involved or drawn in. I didn't like Maite, the main character. There was so much bloodshed in her country and all she cared about was not being a 30 year-old spinster and finding her true love but no one was ever good enough to meet her standards. I felt bored more than interested which is a shame.

The author playlist was great at the end as these are songs I grew up on that have been remade over and over so much you never know who was the original singer.

On Thursday in 1971, a shock group funded and organized by the Mexican government attacked a group of students marching through a large avenue in Mexico City. The Hawks (Los Halcones) had been trained by Mexican authorities with support of the CIA in an effort to squelch communism in Mexico and suppress dissent. Hundreds of protesters were injured or killed during what became known as El Halconazo or the Corpus Christi Massacre. (Afterword)
Profile Image for Denise.
509 reviews350 followers
October 13, 2021
Another BOTM, another miss :sigh:

I wish I had read a few more reviews before choosing this one as an Add-On. I immediately saw the spectacular cover and that the author was Silvia Moreno-Garcia (I was a big fan of "Mexican Gothic"), so I thought it would be a hit - I was wrong. Moreno-Garcia notes that this is a historical noir set in 1970's Mexico during the time of the "Dirty War." While I give Moreno-Garcia props for tackling different genres, this one was slow and felt like a chore to get through. I am not a big fan of "guns blazing" crime stories (hence, I should probably stay away from the noir genre), so this really wasn't my type of read.

The story is told through the POVs of the two main characters, Maite and Elvis. Maite is a secretary, who is always looking for excitement, and who somehow finds herself investigating the disappearance of her neighbor, Leonora; and Elvis is a hired gun, who is also looking for Leonora, howbeit for much different reasons than Maite. I didn't care for either of them - frankly, they were both annoying characters. Their two storylines also felt disconnected, which made the entire reading experience rather disjointed. Unfortunately, I just never felt any type of connection to the storyline or the characters, and the ending was also very anti-climactic. While I loved Moreno-Garcia's writing style in "Mexican Gothic," I found it choppy and almost redundant in this one. There were also too-many-to-count references to 1970's music, which I didn't find enjoyable in the least.

In the end, lessons learned - (A) noir-type reads are not for me, and (B) The old adage is true - you definitely can't judge a book by its cover. 2 stars.
Profile Image for Misha (Heartsfullofreads).
197 reviews46 followers
August 15, 2021
As soon as I heard about SMG writing a book set in the 70s, I had to have it! I am entranced by this time in history where so much happened.

Maite is a lonely girl who is quite tired of her 9-5 boring job and wants nothing more to shed her boring image. So much so that she reads romantic comics and makes up stories putting herself into them. She is thrown into a dangerous adventure when her neighbor asks her to cat sit.

Elvis is a member of The Hawks. The Hawks were a government-trained paramilitary group. Elvis was an intriguing character. He grappled with using violence and cared about how others perceived him.

This was definitely a slower story. I felt that it was much longer than need be. I did grow slightly bored with everyone's obsession about Leonora's whereabouts at some point.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is wonderful at setting an atmosphere within her stories. It pulled me right in from the beginning and I was there for the low-stakes and small twists and turns.

Thank you to Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
1,966 reviews1,379 followers
August 21, 2021
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of the most diversely creative authors I have ever read. Is there a genre she can't tackle?? Here she delivered a suspenseful noir story that was as engaging as it was illuminating.

Mexico City in the 1970s was a politically violative place. Maite, however, lives a quiet existence within it, splitting her time between her dull secretary job and the romance novels she marathons and imagines herself inside of. That is until a seemingly innocent request to look after a neighbour's cat sees her unwittingly drawn into the unrest that is rocking the rest of the city.

The complexity in plot was also mirrored in its characters. This story had its roots in real history and so all that occurred felt infused with tension and authenticity. Each individual too was given a life and light of their own, that made their vulnerabilities and their desires feel believable and transferred to the reader.

This was dually an intense and political novel, providing information on the events occurring and the emotions felt during this time, whilst also remaining a humane and insightful read, focusing on how all affected the individual. I felt a connection to all involved and, like always, thought Moreno-Garcia brought her own personal flavour to the storytelling that was brilliant, beautiful, and beckoned me to keep reading.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and the publisher, Jo Fletcher, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Miranda.
135 reviews48 followers
August 17, 2021
Happy release day!

I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia never disappoints!

Velvet Was the Night is a historical noir set in 1970s Mexico City. The story focuses on two characters: Maite and Elvis. Maite is a secretary who often escapes from her life by reading issues of Secret Romance. She envies her neighbor, Leonora, because she is a beautiful art student who seems to live a life filled with romance and intrigue. Upon Leonora’s disappearance, Maite searches for her neighbor, trying to unravel the mystery. Elvis is also searching for Leonora. He is a member of the Hawks, which he turned to in an effort to escape from his life as well. He much prefers movies and rock music to violence and being a criminal. While searching for Leonora, Elvis and Maite cross paths. He realizes that they may have more in common than anyone would realize; both are lonely and lovers of music. As the search continues, the more dangerous it becomes for everyone involved.

I enjoyed seeing how the author balanced and incorporated historical context and intrigue in this story. It takes place at the beginning of the Dirty War and features the Hawks. The latter was a paramilitary group implemented by the Mexican government to attack, torture, and kill protesters. Music and literature were also important in Mexico during this time. The novel highlights this through things like romance comic books and rock music, which is very important to note because the government was also engaged in suppressing rock music at this time.

I seriously cannot get enough of this author’s writing. I deeply admire her skill and have loved everything I have read by her so far. If there is one thing I know, it is that I can count on Moreno-Garcia for some of the most beautiful writing I have ever seen. It is rich and atmospheric. It is so fun to see how the author explores a variety of genres in all of her different works. With her noirs, she does an excellent job creating intrigue and mystery.

I thought the characters in this story were a bit different than what I have seen in some of the author’s previous works. In some of those, the main protagonists can be selfish or flawed but would not necessarily be considered “bad” people as a whole. However, this novel features more characters who may be seen as immoral or morally ambiguous. It was an interesting shift and dynamic. They were all incredibly well written and developed too.

I loved how this story follows the two main characters Maite and Elvis. I enjoyed seeing how they had separate stories at first but ultimately came together through a connection to Leonora. The dual perspective really strengthens the narrative. It works to explore different perspectives by having an insider and outsider. Readers can see Maite as the outside perspective who is in over her head while Elvis gives the inside perspective into the Hawks and their operation.

Velvet Was the Night was such a captivating read. I love Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s writing so much; there is nothing quite like losing yourself in one of her novels. This story was no different. At this point, I feel like I can expect every book I read by this author to be a favorite of mine because that is what has happened with the five I have read so far. I am very much looking forward to picking up the ones I have not read yet!

*Content warning: guns, violence, blood, murder, death, torture*

Thank you to the publisher, Ballantine/Del Rey, and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel before its release on August 17, 2021.
Profile Image for MissBecka Gee.
1,408 reviews578 followers
February 13, 2022
I read Mexican Gothic and was underwhelmed by the story, but didn't hate her writing style.
I wasn't sure I would read anything else from the author though until...
"Oh hello there gorgeous cover I impulse bought."
I am so glad I picked this book up!!!
The cover drew me in (sucker for a gorgeous cover), but the story had me enraptured!!!
I am sooo glad I picked up another of her books, since this is likely to be in my top 5 for all of 2022.
*quietly walks away to stalk Silvia Moreno-Garcia's back catalogue*

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