Novella Review: Nightlife: Hazardous Materials by Matthew Quinn Martin
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Paranormal
Publisher: Pocket Star (May 11, 2015)
Author Info: matthewquinnmartin.com
Wendy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
With thanks to Matthew Quinn Martin and Pocket Books for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I recently ready Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream. It’s a book about a crazy A.I. that traps a small group of humans within a chaotic, psychotic world, driving them all kinds of crazy with its mind games. I tried the video game based on the book, but quickly decided it wasn’t my cup of tea. Other video games from books that I will avoid at all costs: Polybius.
Nightlife: Hazardous Materials is a novella set in Martin’s supernatural horror world that we first saw in Nightlife (reviewed by Mogsy and I here). A prequel of sorts, and though seemingly unrelated beyond the title, there is at least one name readers of Nightlife might recognize. I had thought we’d see some of the scary monsters from Nightlife, but Hazardous Materials offers something far more frightening by subtly expanding his world well beyond monsters in the sewers.
It introduces the main protagonist, Jarrod Foster, a down on his luck young man scraping for cash with a job clearing out abandoned buildings no one else will touch. As he and his boss make their way through one such place, they discover a vintage arcade–the site of a mass shooting decades before. Martin intersperses news stories of other such shootings, grounding his work in reality, while slowly letting the creepy factor in, even before Jarrod finds the mysterious game called Polybius and falls under its spell.
I’ve always wanted to have an actual arcade system, but Hazardous Materials has made me think twice about that thanks to Martin’s ability to tease out a spine-tingling mystery that leaves me very much wanting to know how deeply the darkness of Martin’s urban horror world runs.