Velvet Was the Night would make an amazing movie or TV series. The book felt cinematic as I read. Moreno-Garcia paints pictures and moods so beautifully I could see them play out in my head. I don’t usually see books in my head. On top of that, Moreno-Garcia has created a Spotify playlist to listen to while reading. It is excellent.
It’s June, 1971 in Mexico City. The Mexican Dirty War is just starting. President Echeverria is suppressing rock and roll. After a couple of years of releasing dissidents from jail and allowing them to return from exile, he’s starting to crack down of students and activists.
Elvis was seen as one of the stupid kids because his letter came out wrong when he wrote and he was poor. He got kicked out of school and fell in with a gang of local boys. Elvis falls in with people, a cult because he was recruited by a pretty girl, and now the Hawks, because El Mago saw the potential for violence in him. He doesn’t really like to beat up people. He would rather read and listen to rock and roll. He likes Bobby Darin and the Beatles along with Elvis. Elvis is loyal to El Mago and his team members, but doesn’t care about the politics surrounding him. His personal loyalty drags him into the mess of the Corpus Christi Massacre, it’s aftermath, and the shadows of Maite’s life.
Maite loves romance comics and yearns for an exciting life full of love and music. Instead she works as a secretary at a law firm in Mexico City, and lives above her means. She is uncurious about the world and just wants to read her comics and listen to her American records. She likes Bobby Darin too. Maite is unhappy – dissatisfied and petty. She’s a thief and a liar who wants more from life, but doesn’t like change, so she’s likely going to stay dissatisfied and petty. Even so, she’s struggling in her own way against the confines of her life. When she steals some rolls of film form her missing neighbor, she becomes embroiled in the politics she doesn’t care about.
Neither Maite or Elvis are likeable, but they are compelling and ultimately sympathetic. Velvet Was the Night burns slowly with pops of violence and terror. Maite and Elvis are small people caught in something big, but the story stays on them, alternating between their points of view.
I enjoyed this so much. It was a rich book, inviting tangents and rabbit hole explorations. Like Elvis, I feel my words bunching up in my head. So I’ll leave it here – this was a good read.
I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.