Terrifying creatures that go bump in the night in Nightlife

nightlifeNightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin
Pocket Star, October 21st, 2013 (Horror / Urban Fantasy)*
Rating: I’d go there again (probably).

I started this one because it is October, and I wanted to incorporate some scary horror stories into my reading life in time for Halloween.

Before I begin, a technical issue: I find it intensely frustrating that some of these e-ARC PDFs are so tiny on my e-reader screen, because I cannot enlarge them enough to read easily without adding three or more clicks to the page-turning process. If I don’t enlarge the image, I end up holding my reader at most three inches from the end of my nose. This was one of the worst.

To our regularly scheduled review:

As Nightlife opens, Jack Jackson is being tortured and questioned by a police detective about several murders. The first hint of the supernatural: that Jack remembers hearing It scream as he looked at all the blood in his living room.

Twelve years later, Beth is a bartender working in the last remaining nightclub in downtown New Harbor. Having grown up in the projects, she is a tough, clever, independent young woman. Her first scene – she stops a bunch of teenage punks from murdering a stray dog (integral to the story), and then beats up the lead punk when he starts to attack her. Awesome! One night, her roommate and best childhood friend disappears. She begins hunting for her, while more and more people go missing. Eventually, she runs into Jack, who has become a lonely, loner Batman-like vigilante with an impressive DIY arsenal hunting for the “Night Angels,” often known as vampires. Beth and Jack begin to work together, on Jack’s part reluctantly. As they continue their fight, Beth (and the readers) slowly learn about the nature of the enemy.

There is no doubt that this is a horror novel, where friends and lovers disappear, and the tone is almost unrelentingly dark. I found it creepily fascinating. The “vampire” premise was unique, and the vampires are definitely not the desirable and sometimes honorable ones seen in other stories. There is no way for humans to coexist with these creatures.

I rarely read horror books, or dark books, or sad books. So this, and others like it, are outside my usual purview. However, I was very impressed by the plot, the fast pacing, the creepy factor, and character development. Jack and Beth both live bleak lives, and they’re both lonely misfits. As odd as they are, they are both convincing – Jack with his battle scars and emotional armor and Beth with her defensive independence and her courage. Along the way, characterizations and caricatures of secondary characters add depth and interest to the novel. The plot and suspense, the mystery of the creatures kept me turning the pages, eager to find out what happened next. The resolution is tidy, scary, but not without leaving room for more storytelling. For instance, what is the shadowy Division that seems to be stalking Jack?

I may read the next in the series, but I’d have to be in the mood for something dark. I recommend it for fans of urban fantasy, horror, and vampire stories.

*e-ARC provided by NetGalley

Other Halloween reads:

Dracula The Historian Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles #1) Anno Dracula (Anno Dracula #1) Red Dragon (Hannibal Lector #1)


  1. Author here: First off sorry about the ARC problems (it’s all outside of my control, but I will pass the into along to powers that be). Anyway, thank you so much for the read and wonderful review…and for letting me take you on a walk to the dark end of the street.

    1. I understand – and this is not the only publisher whose ARCs I’ve had trouble reading. I’m glad you enjoyed the review. I was very happy to read and review Nightlife.

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