book reviews by Althea

Nightlife: Night Terrors – Matthew Quinn Martin ***

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Nightlife: Night Terrors
Nightlife: Night Terrors by Matthew Quinn Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an omnibus edition containing two novels and one shorter story.

Fun, contemporary mainstream horror, with the scary sort of vampires.

It’s set in an alternate New Haven, CT. Not sure why the names have been changed to protect the guilty. We’re in the city of “New Harbor” – which has a university that’s not called Yale, and a secret society that’s The Order of Sormen, not Skull & Bones. I think anyone who’s spent time in New Haven would get a kick out of this.

Beth is a bartender at the local nightclub (I’m certain it’s based on a real place, and points are awarded for a very realistic portrayal of what bartending is like.) She has a bit of a conflict going on with her rich lawyer boyfriend, who wants her to drop her job and move in with him. But Beth values her independence and doesn’t like a lot of things about his attitude. Soon enough, though, her issues with the guy are rendered moot. Her best friend has disappeared, and there’s some strange things going on in the basement…

Beth is on the verge of getting into real trouble, when she encounters Jack Jackson – a weird guy all decked out in tactical gear – who turns out to be a vampire hunter.

The writing here isn’t what I’d call polished, and at times, it relies too heavily on familiar tropes – even stereotypes. But it’s still an entertaining horror tale that moves along briskly. Recommended for fans of ‘The Strain.’

Hazardous Material:
“Hazardous Material” is presented as a sequel novella to “Nightlife” – but honestly, it feels like it was already written, and then the author added on an ending containing revelations to tie it in to the previous novel.

It’s a mainstream-genre horror story, and many of the elements are familiar: The walled-off scene of a mass killing, a creepy-carnival atmosphere, and a haunted videogame from an abandoned arcade that may bring death and madness into the present day…

All that, I very much enjoyed. But the ending takes an abrupt turn, and I’m not sure that it worked well at all. I wish it’d just stuck with the first track.

As The Worm Turns:
Where there are predators… you might also expect to find the apex predator.

This book continues the story begun in “Nightlife,” following Beth and Jack, vampire hunters. Here, they’ve gotten their slaying down to a science – literally. However, just when they start seeing hints of something disturbing and possibly more powerful than the beings they’ve been hunting down, they run into opposition: not in the form of the inhuman monsters they’ve gotten accustomed to, but in the form of human monsters. The secretive Division has their own agenda, and their agents have a special vendetta against Jack.

Recommended for those who’ve read Nightlife and want to know what happens next, but for me, the story suffered a bit from ‘sequel-itis’: “well, I told that story, but how can I outdo it for the next part?” I also thought the evil of the Division came off as a little too cartoonish; with too little justification given for their atrocious actions.

It’s still a fun vampire/monster tale, and still reminds me of ‘The Strain.’

Many thanks to NetGalley and Pocket books for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinion is solely my own.

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