Today is my stop on another blog tour hosted by The Write Reads! This one is for a dark thriller with an emphasis on dark: The Dark Matter of Natasha by Matthew R. Davis. This book took me for a ride that I didn’t always want to see but I absolutely couldn’t look away! It’s a novella that packs a powerful punch.
But, before I get into more of my review, I want to thank Dave @ The Write Reads and all of the crew for giving me a spot on this tour! I also want to thank the publisher and author for sending me a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! It is, as always, much appreciated.
Alright, let’s get to it!
Natasha stalks the quiet streets of dead-end Lunar Bay like doom in a denim jacket. She’s a grim reminder that some teenagers can never escape the ever-tightening noose of their lives. Burned out and benumbed by a traumatic past, dogged by scurrilous small-town gossip, she finds solace in drugs, sex and Slayer. What horrors have her flat eyes witnessed? And how far will she go in pursuit of the one tiny spark of hope that still flickers in her haunted heart?
When a naïve transplant crosses her path, he’s drawn into shadow and doubt. With his girlfriend ghosting him, Natasha’s fresh introduction to her half-lit world is darkly appealing. Now faced with confusing quandaries—connection or convenience, relationship or exploitation—can he help any of the women in his life? Or is he just helping himself? The untold tragedies of Natasha’s lonely life may be more than he can handle. And in a town whose history is littered with dead girls, there may be no happy ending for anyone.
A tar-black coming of age story, this gritty psychological thriller from Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author Matthew R. Davis, eloquently chronicles the crushing gravity of small-town hopelessness, the double-edged catharsis of sex, drugs, and heavy metal, and the brutal weight of youth’s first lessons in accountability.
Matthew R. Davis is an author and musician based in Adelaide, South Australia.
His work has been shortlisted for, and sometimes won, the Shirley Jackson Awards, Aurealis Awards, Australian Shadows Awards, and the WSFA Small Press Award.
He plays bass and sings in heavy rock/metal bands such as icecocoon and Blood Red Renaissance, dabbles with poetry, video editing, and visual art, and works on projects with his photographer partner.
He is the author of Supermassive Black Mass (novelette, Demain Publishing, 2019), If Only Tonight We Could Sleep (horror stories, Things in the Well, 2020) and Midnight in the Chapel of Love (novel, JournalStone, 2021).He loves all kinds of metal from Mötley Crüe to Pig Destroyer and his favorite Slayer album is Seasons in the Abyss.
Thank you to The Write Reads and the publisher, Grey Matter Press, for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions contained within are my own.
I’m gonna be honest with y’all. When I read the first chapter of this dark novella, I thought it wasn’t going to be for me. Mostly because I had no clue where it was going! But this novel has a way of pulling you into the story and, by the end, I was completely enthralled!
In this thriller, we follow a teenage boy who is on the outs with his first girlfriend. He lives in a boring, small town and lives a pretty boring life… until the day he runs across Natasha. Natasha is the town bad girl. Rumors swirl around her and our young narrator finds himself caught up in her storm.
First and foremost, I’m going to strongly encourage that you check out trigger warnings for this book. It tackles a plethora of heavy hitting topics and shies away from none of them. It does so in a way that makes you feel the heartache and the ugly emotions that come with such topics. All very well-written, but definitely tread carefully if you’re not in a place to read something like that!
Now, let’s talk about how incredible this novella was, shall we? As I mentioned, I read the first chapter and wasn’t sure I was going to like it. It just left me feeling confused and not exactly engaged with the story. But I’m so glad I kept reading because this book packs a freakin’ punch! Once I settled into this book, I found it impossible to put it down. The writing is compelling and rich, pulling you into this sad and dreary tale. It paints the picture of a young man trying to figure out relationships, himself, and what he wants in a small town that can’t offer him much. This was a raw and visceral read which shines a light on the dark underbelly of the small town in which it’s set.
I think what I ended up enjoying the most about this book is the characters. Our main character is so well-written and developed that I found myself completely invested in his story. And Natasha. Oh Natasha… You never get a glimpse of the story from Natasha’s POV but that doesn’t make her any less of an incredible character. In fact, she tends to steal the show. This author does a fantastic job of creating characters that feel so real that it anchors you in the story in a way that makes you want to keep turning the pages.
Final thoughts: This dark thriller is definitely not for the faint of heart. It spotlights some pretty intense topics and does not pull any punches. It does so in a way that completely roots you in the story and makes this a quick and compelling read. The writing is fantastic and the characters are incredibly well-written. If you’re looking for a quick, dark read that will leave you thinking, I think this could be the book for you!