An action-packed debut horror novel from talented new writer Matthew Quinn Martin, Nightlife pits a feisty bartender and a mysterious loner against bloodthirsty terrors as alluring as they are deadly.
Nightclub bartender and serial heartbreaker Beth Becker might be a cynic. But when her best friend goes missing Halloween night, Beth knows it’s up to her to find out what happened.
Her quest will take her on an odyssey through the crumbling city of New Harbor, Connecticut. Along the way she meets a homeless prophet warning of something he calls the “Night Angel”—a bloodthirsty creature that feeds on the forgotten. And she will form an unlikely bond with a hunted stranger who knows all too well what stalks the streets at night.
The strange man tells Beth the hideous truth about the nightmare creatures that have haunted mankind’s imagination for eons—creatures the world calls vampires. Together they are the only hope for New Harbor, but to defeat what lurks in the shadows they’ll have to conquer something far stronger than fear—their own desires.
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Beth Becker was late, very late, for her shift. She’d already sprinted ten blocks from the bus stop. Despite the autumn air that bit at the acres of flesh left exposed by her Halloween costume, her skin was slick with sweat. She heard little besides the rush of blood swirling in her ears and the incessant thwap thwap thwap of her boot soles as they slapped the cracked sidewalk. But what little she heard was enough.
She stopped for a moment and strained to catch the sound. It was a whine alternating with a low, throaty growl that was impossible to ignore—no matter how hard the other pedestrians buzzing past tried to do just that. It came from a gap between two decaying and abandoned buildings that was not quite wide enough to be called an alley. It looked like an empty tooth socket in a meth head’s already ruined smile. Beth drew closer to the almost-alley, ignoring the aura of raw gloom that oozed from it onto the sidewalk.
She cocked her ear toward the shadows, but heard nothing except a thin silence. Beth checked the time. If she left now, she might manage to clock in only fifteen minutes after she was due. That would net her nothing stronger than stern words. If she showed up much later than that, it was anyone’s guess what management’s response might be. She turned to go—and again caught that whine, only now it came laced with bits of unintelligible words, piercing shrieks, and hollow laughter. Something about it all was wrong, very wrong, almost sick.
Beth slipped into the alleyway. The chill and shadows wrapped around her like a cowl. The air was rife with an acrid stench which left no doubt that this urban fissure moonlighted as an alfresco piss stop. The familiar New Harbor din began to fade as she stepped farther from the street, overtaken by more jeers, more taunts, and that wavering whine. She drew close to a dogleg in the brick warren. On one wall was a freshly scrawled patch of graffiti: Beware the Night Angel in Day-Glo orange spray paint.
She rounded the final corner and was greeted by a wall of backs. There were five of them, four whippet-thin and wiry, one who strained the waistband of his soiled canvas cargos. They all wore grimy hoodies or grease-stained windbreakers. A pack of punks from Grey Hill or suburban kids playing at it. Past the swaying of their gangly limbs, Beth spotted the source of that whine and growl, a haggard mutt whose collar had snagged on the twisted hem of a rusted cyclone fence.
“Get it. Get it,” demanded the one on the end, the fat one, his spare tire undulating with sadistic giddiness. One of the others obliged, hurling an empty forty-ounce bottle at the dog. It shattered against the fence and rained glass.
Beth had seen enough. Time cards be damned, this had to stop. She stepped from the shadows. “Hey! What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
They turned. Shame blushed across their teenage faces in a wave. None of them would meet her eyes. They started shuffling away from one another in the random pattern of a crowd that suddenly realized its reason to crowd was gone.
All except one, that is, the fat one, who sauntered toward her. “What’s it to you, skank?” His voice was crammed with the mush-mouth adolescent arrogance of someone who’d just discovered the thrill of muscling around his mother.
Beth planted her feet. “Shouldn’t you idiots be in school?”
“Nah, skank. School’s out.”
“Then go home. Leave that dog alone.”
He took another step closer, hands thrust into his Carhartts. Beth spied a wisp of peach fuzz staining his brace-faced smile. The others began to advance on her too, exchanging nudges and wry looks. “We’re just having fun.”
“Have it someplace else.” Beth quickly glanced behind her. The street was farther away then she would have liked. The fat one’s ruddy eyes slid down the front of her costume, almost tugging at the laces of her red and black punk-rock devil corset. Beth suddenly felt acutely aware of just how little clothing she had on.
“How ’bout we have some fun with you, skank?” He shuddered out a laugh, shooting glances at his pack, all eager to see the next move. Behind them, the dog rattled the fence, straining to break free. The fat one took another step.
“I think you’d better go home,” Beth said. “Just go home before—”
“Before what?” His filthy mitt shot out to paw her corset.
Beth knocked it aside and then hit him with a hard right. His nose exploded with blood. She hit him again, and he went staggering. “Before that.” She gripped both shoulders, bringing him in for a knee, followed by an elbow to the jaw.
He sucked air through his ruined nose with a sick gurgle. Beth locked his thumb and twisted him around, almost wrenching off the digit. He managed a babyish whimper as she shoved him down to the slimy pavement. She locked her knee in the crook of his neck. The others stood in shocked silence. The dog yelped in approval.
“Get this crazy bitch off me,” the kid squawked, all his bluster melting like ice cream dropped on an August sidewalk.
“You all going home now?” Beth tugged out her cell. “Or do I call the cops?” They answered in unison by scuttling for the street. Beth hadn’t fought off a decade and a half of groping delinquents and grab-happy clubbers just to wind up jumped by a pack of teenage twerps. Not today. Not ever. She knew how to throw a punch, and more important, she knew when.
“Let me up,” he blubbered. “Please, lady, you gotta let me up.”
“Shut up, you little prick.” As she pressed harder, she got a closer look. His terror was rank. His pudgy cheeks wobbled with each sob as tears and blood pooled on the pavement. Another pool spread out from between his splayed legs. Despite his bulk, he couldn’t have been more than fifteen. A punk, yes, but still a kid.
Beth eased up. “What’s your home number?” she asked, phone held ready to dial. “Bet your mother would loved to hear how you’ve been spending your free time.”
“Please, lady. I didn’t mean—”
“Oh, it’s ‘lady’ now? What happened to ‘skank’?”
“Please, lady. Please. I’m sorry.”
Beth grew up with kids like this one. A lot of them had wound up behind bars, even more under the dirt. She eased up. “You don’t change that attitude, you will be sorry.”
She stepped back. He scrambled to his feet, brushing past her without another word. She could still see him wiping away blood, snot, and tears as he disappeared around the bend. Beth knew that the beating she’d just handed him would pale compared with what was waiting for him as soon as he met back up with his “friends.” They’d give him the business but good. He hadn’t just been punked—he’d been punked by a girl. There would be no mercy.
Beth swatted the grime from her skirt as she made her way toward the dog. Its matted fur was dusted with broken glass. It bent low, growling through bared teeth. She reached for the snagged collar. “Easy, now,” she cooed. “Easy.” She undid the clasp, and the dog was off like a loosed arrow. “Thanks a lot,” she said to the now empty alley.
Beth glanced at the frayed nylon webbing clutched in her hand. No tag, just a notch where it had been sheared off. Looked as if someone had cut loose the family pet, someone who couldn’t afford to feed it anymore and didn’t cotton to the idea of some Good Samaritan bringing it back.
She checked her cell. “Fuck me.” Her fifteen minutes had stretched into forty-five, and she still had ten blocks to go.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin “They know not Time. Not as we do. They know not hours, days, or years. Rather their lives are broken into seasons. There is a season for sleeping when they burrow deep into the earth, all but dead for what we deem decades. There is a season for feeding, when they creep from their dens to feast upon blood, storing what they need to rest, to grow, to mature in time for the next season. The mating season” This is probably one of the scariest books I have read in a long time. Even scarier than the novella I just read prior to this. A young woman is searching for her missing friends and stumbles onto a world that the show Supernatural would not even recognize. Is this a connection to another dimension? Or is there more to this world than one could ever realize? This is a dark story, a thrilling story with many twists and turns and changes to the plot, the characters, and your idea of what is scary. Not a book for the faint hearted.
Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin - Ancient creatures, once dormant under the streets of New Harbor, have woken and it is now time for the feeding frenzy. With an alluring appearance to lure humans into their grasp, the Night Angels (as the prophet calls them) are systematically eating their way through the denizens of New Harbor. It’s been Jack’s long-time mission to kill these bloodsucking monsters and now Beth has joined the fight after experiencing her own tragedy. Will all their efforts be enough to stop the evil or will they too find themselves at the wrong end of the food chain? Nightlife is the author’s debut novel and you can really see all the work he’s put into making it a different kind of vampire story. I liked how the creatures were very different and the world-building didn’t need to be to a large scale because this was a very character driven story. I enjoy the multiple viewpoints because it gave us a way to get more of the story than if we were just seeing through Beth’s eyes. I preferred learning along with Beth about the creatures and about Jack. I liked how Jack is very unapologetic about whom he has become and Blood (the dog) stole my heart. If you’re looking for a very different horror story, pick up Nightlife!
I usually don't read books from the horror genre, but since Halloween is one day away, I found myself in the mood for a good horror thriller, and Nightlife by author Matthew Quinn Martin did not disappoint me. Set in the college town of New Harbor, Connecticut, the story revolves around a legendary bloodthirsty creature who has been preying upon the unsuspecting townspeople, and an unlikely trio of strangers who embark on a quest to hunt the creature down. After a close encounter with the evil creature, homeless Vietnam Vet Gil Gibbons proclaimed himself to be a prophet with a message to spread to the residents of New Harbor: beware of the Night Angel. Inside a church, Gil comes across Jack Johnson, a haunted loner who is on a vampire hunt for the killer of his girlfriend twelve years ago. Gil anoints Jack as The One who will destroy the Night Angel. Meanwhile streetwise bartender Beth Becker is searching for her roommate Zoe Rakoczy, who disappeared from the bar on Halloween night. When Gil, Jack and Beth meet, they team up and embark on a dark harrowing quest to hunt down the Night Angel (vampire). In his debut novel, author Matthew Quinn Martin weaves a dark riveting tale that keeps the reader sitting on the edge of their seats in suspense. This slow building horror story gradually sucks the reader in (well it is a vampire story, lol) and gains momentum as the unlikely trio embark on a quest to hunt down the bloodthirsty Night Angel. I really enjoyed following Gil, Jack and Beth on their quest, each of them were intriguing characters with troubled pasts. I couldn't help but cheer them on as their action-packed adventure takes them into the bowels of New Harbor in search of the legendary vampire who has terrorized the townspeople for so long. The author does a great job of balancing the darkness of the storyline with humorous dialogue and interactions between the characters, but just when the reader gets comfortable, the author weaves in some more gory twists and turns that keeps them on their toes. With an intriguing cast of characters and a dark storyline filled with enough gruesome bloodsucking gore and suspenseful creepiness that will raise the hair on your arms, Nightlife is the perfect story to read if you like to get a good scare on!