- Genre: Psychological Thriller
- Length: 130 Pages
- Publishing: 21st June 2022
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Matter-Natasha-Matthew-Davis/dp/1950569128/
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60767911-the-dark-matter-of-natasha
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.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
The Dark Matter of Natasha is a tragic coming-of-age story that is dark, gritty, and different from any other psychological thriller currently on shelves.
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
The cover doesn’t tell me a lot. It’s the shadow of a person’s profile, and I don’t know whether it’s male or female. Past the profile, there seems to be some kind of symbol and either a fiery or sunset landscape. The blurb is a bit confusing, but it gives off the feeling that the story is dark and gritty. It says this story is a psychological thriller, one of my favorite genres.
Actual Reading Experience:
Going into this story, I expected it to be a psychological thriller with Natasha as the main character. My actual reading experience, though, was much different than my expectations.
The main character is not Natasha though she plays a significant role in the story. The story is told by and from the exclusive point of view of the “naïve transplant” from the blurb who is unnamed. He is a young man who is coming of age in the dark area of a small town that has seen more than its fair share of tragedy. How the story is told gave me flashbacks to the semester when I had to study James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. I was scarred for life by Joyce’s depiction of what it means to be a young man coming of age. The narrator’s journey reminded me of Joyce’s description. Because of my association, I had a tough time reading it. I probably would have enjoyed it more and not made that unfortunate though complimentary association if the story had been told from Natasha’s point of view.
I did find the explanation of the title very intriguing. In the story, the dark matter of Natasha is defined as the “motivations and feelings that must exist for her to make sense, even if unseen and unproven.” And like the narrator, it too made me “incurably curious.” I pondered this in the context of the story and outside the context for many days. As a matter of fact, I am still considering it. I love it when an author can bring a greater truth that makes me curious enough to contemplate long after I finish the story.
I also enjoyed the fast pace. Even though it didn’t read like a psychological thriller for me, it did have the fast pace of the genre that I love. I also found that getting to know Natasha through the unnamed narrator’s eyes intriguing. It kept an air of mystery about her and her motivations that added to the speed of the pace.
To Read or Not to Read:
Though this book was not for me, I could definitely see where it would appeal to readers who enjoy dark and gritty coming-of-age stories through the perspective of a teen male. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to those readers as it has a lot to offer.
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.
Find out more at www.matthewrdavisfiction.wordpress.com