The Dark Matter of Natasha

Matthew R. Davis

Thriller
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.

This book contains:

  • Suicide described and depicted and its effects on their loved ones
  • Drug use and addiction
  • Teen drinking
  • Descriptions of rape (girls were 11 and 12 at the time)
  • Reference to abortions
  • Description of murder
  • Description of threatening to kill someone.

While the story is told from the perspective of a man reflecting on his youth, we never know his name. In his youth, the key people he’s remembering are Caitlin and Natasha.

Caitlin is a sweet girl who’s seemingly innocent in all ways and everything that Natasha isn’t. Natasha has a past that haunts her in more ways than one that get explored as we progress through the novella.

From moving to Lunar Bay through to the culmination of Natasha’s darkness we follow our un-named man as a teenager. Throughout his time in Lunar Bay, he’s confronted with some pretty intense topics, from struggling to understand girls and sex through to the more traumatic themes of rape, abortions and suicide.

For a small town, a lot seems to be happening in some pretty big, illegal and emotionally traumatic ways. For a thriller, it doesn’t have the same level of “what is happening?!” that I’m used to. But it makes up for it with the sheer intensity of what’s happening emotionally and hormonally to teenagers who’ve been through a lot.

The way Matthew was describing the events and the man’s feelings as the events unfolded made the story feel almost autobiographical. Especially as we moved to how he left Lunar Bay and how his life was playing out as an adult.

I mean, how do you come up with a story like that without it being based off of truth?

Surely those events are just too intensely traumatic to be something that someone can come up with to happen to fictional characters in a small town before hitting 18?

Over the course of the afternoon where I read the novella, I was definitely pushed to think, contemplate and left wondering at how these kinds of events could happen. Especially what drives people to the point where they do that. In that sense, the story followed the same theme as a thriller but in a different context to the types I’ve read before.

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