So this has been a time coming, hasn’t it? Rough scheduling is the order of the day I suppose, but the review is here and it’s one I’ve looked forward to sharing with you all. This one is thanks to the nice folks at Aconyte Books and NetGalley, this is Rosemary Jones’ Mask of Silver. Enjoy!

Mask of Silver cover

Director Sydney Fitzmaurice, the man behind “nightmare movies” fit to rival or even surpass the likes of Lon Chaney, pulls his entire crew to Arkham to film the greatest movie of his career. The movie that he could only make in Arkham. The movie that leaves costumer and make-up artist Jeany Lin increasingly worried for her fellow crew members as well as the star, Renee Love, her own sister and Sydney’s favorite collaborator. As filming starts so do the strange happenings, the nightmares and accidents. In a house full of mirrors that reflect impossibilities, in a city where the past never properly dies, Jeany will have to find a way to break script if she wants to prevent the mask of silver reflecting doom out onto the world.

Rosemary Jones’ Mask of Silver is, in many ways, a book that I was not sure what to expect going into it. I was sure that I would enjoy it, the idea of a director’s obsession with this one movie being a threat to his crew is a solid horror concept even if we take the eldritch elements out of it. Add in the sense of the  crew as comrades who rely on and enjoy working with each other and the idea that these are people who trust the director even as they know that he is a bit out there, it makes for a nice looming sense of coming betrayal.

It was the characters that sold me on the horror of Mask of Silver. While the reader knows that Jeany will make it out of the story alive and more or less well, because she is narrating the story from a point somewhere in the future, there is this lovely sense of ongoing dread to the narration. A lot of that dread and the tension that comes with it is down to the rest of the cast. Jeany will be safe, but what about the rest of the film crew, Fred or Renee or Betsy? The characters are enjoyable and their interactions feel nicely organic. I wanted more time with these characters. Mask of Silver had a lot of quiet low points, places where the danger was distant and it was just Jeany thinking about previous movies the crew had made or talking about Fred’s favorite camera and how he’s the only one who can make it run that smooth. I found myself settling into these moments and wishing they would keep going. The details about what parts certain characters were usually used for and how they would make effects work drew me in, in part because I knew that it was all leading to something terrifying, but also just because the details felt good and I wanted to know more about these people.

The horror here was often subtle. Jeany finding herself drawing the same thing over and over, only catching herself after she’s gone through several pages of sketches. The mirrors show things they should not be able to, with Jeany not quite realizing it or only realizing it afterward. There are moments where things go wrong in more obvious, impossible to explain ways. Those instances are sparse though which means they tend to land harder, though I admit the first of them did make me laugh.

Mask of Silver, is a book that I absolutely plan to purchase once the opportunity presents itself. Jones did a fantastic job with the mood and tension of it and her character work was greatly enjoyable. She made a point of referencing actors and directors and movies from the time, which did an excellent job of grounding the story in the 1920’s as well as adding to the reality of the characters as movie professionals, because of course they would be aware of what was going on in their field. I definitely look forward to reading her work again and hope that Aconyte  taps her for another Arkham Horror novel. All this to say, Mask of Silver definitely earned a five out of five from me, it is definitely worth giving a shot if you get the chance.