A BiblioSanctum Co-Review: Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Horror
Series: Book 1
Date of Publication: October 21, 2013
Publisher: Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster
Nightlife takes readers to a New Harbor, Connecticut on Halloween night, where deep within its depths, an ancient breed of predator prepares to rise. The city’s outcasts, the forgotten and the homeless are the first victims, but the creatures’ hunger only grows. At New Harbor’s popular nightclub, Beth Becker arrives for her job as a bartender on one of her busiest days of the year, unaware that her life is about to be changed forever.
After that night, several people go missing, including Beth’s best friend Zoe. But when the police ignore her concerns, Beth decides to take things into her own hands. However, her investigations lead her to more questions than answers, to ominous tales about the “Night Angel”, and other horrors she never imagined possible. And when she encounters a mysterious stranger named Jack, Beth has to make a choice. New Harbor is about to fall to a new terror; will she run while she can, or stay and fight?
What did you think about Nightlife?
Mogsy: I think it was the idea of an “urban fantasy-horror” that first hooked me, because while something like that would naturally seem like the perfect combination of genres, I don’t think I’ve actually read anything like that before! And I wasn’t disappointed. I think it at once delivered everything I expected but also gave me a lot of surprises as well.
Wendy: The book begins very slowly, taking its time to introduce the characters, with the main focus being Beth and her relationships with best friend Zoe and boyfriend Ryan. Beth is a strong, independent woman and, despite Ryan’s implications about her party-going lifestyle, she seems to have her priorities straight and has a strong moral compass.
Mogsy: Yes, not surprisingly, the highlights for me are the characters. The story itself takes a bit of time to build up in the beginning, but I was kept interested by Beth and the other perspectives we’re given in this first part of the novel, not to mention the clever and snappy dialogue. Beth felt like a well-defined character almost from the get go, and I liked her.
Wendy: Things start to really kick off on Halloween night though, when several people go missing, including Zoe. The police won’t file a missing persons report after such a short period of time and Ryan doesn’t seem to care, leaving it up to Beth to find Zoe herself. Soon enough, Beth comes face to face with the monsters and meets Jack for the start of a very practical and interesting relationship.
I thought Martin’s monsters are the best part of Nightlife. Initially, they seem like seductive vampires, but there is so much more to them. Martin skillfully combines mythological creatures like the Japanese Kappa with real creatures, creating a frighteningly realistic monster.
Mogsy: I agree! Now I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say he takes a familiar paranormal concept and adds his own twist and flavor of horror. Beth and Jack are pitted against something savage, primal and inhuman. I liked some of the theories presented here about them, especially the biological ones, because…let’s just say salt and those garlic sprays you can get for your garden make a lot of sense.
And though the overall tone of the novel is quite dark, there are some fun parts as well. Jack reminded me a bit of a low-tech Batman with his badass attitude and arsenal of jury-rigged weapons and gadgets! I would have liked to learn more about him, seeing as there’s a whole other side to this story that’s presented but mostly left up in the air, such as the mysterious organization Jack appears to be running from as well as his link to the homeless and self-professed prophet Gil. At times, these sections actually feel disconnected from the overall plot, but they also leave much for the next book to explore. I’m looking forward to it!