Book Review – The Dark Matter of Natasha (novella) – by Matthew R. Davis

Jolly Goat

Hey everyone! Today I’m sharing my thoughts on a dark and twisted novella (without spoilers, of course!), brought to us from the mind of Matthew R. Davis.

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?

This is my first read by this author and I never read the back-cover blurb or synopsis of a book, so I went in competely blind.

Since I read it, I’ve been asking myself this: did I enjoy this book? I’m unsure. And what I mean by this is that I think the book is very good, but I’m unsure if “enjoy” is the right word to describe my reading experience. I think I “enjoyed” it in the same way that I “enjoyed” Ari Aster’s ridiculously masterful debut film, Hereditary. That is a work of art with countless merits, creative camera-work, perfect lighting and aesthetics, but it’s so harrowing and uncomfortable that the pleasure I derived watching it didn’t come from joy, as such.

Reading The Dark Matter of Natasha wasn’t necessarily a pleasurable reading experience in the traditional sense, but I did get a lot from it. It’s a thought-provoking, dread-and-anxiety-inducing piece of art that I’d class less as a horror story and more as a powerful character study with horrific themes.

It’s written in the first-person, which is my favourite narrative style when it’s done well, and it’s done very well here. The bleak world is immersive, and the author’s attention to detail is excellent, as is his ability to seamlessly weave in subtle callbacks.

I particularly enjoyed how seemingly disconnected elements coalesce in the end, bringing the story to a satisfying – if somewhat upsetting – end. Everything written is relevant, makes sense, and adds to the narrative so that the story as a whole is deep, layered, and rich.

I felt for all of the characters. Even in the moments where I disliked them, I understood them and sympathised with their struggles and decisions. Natasha is a character whose pain impacted me profoundly. I haven’t lived the same life, but so much of her experience is relatable, not in spite of but especially BECAUSE of the darker shades of character. Reading about her was upsetting, which is a credit to the author. So often, I read women written by men who do their best but can’t quite capture certain female experiences or perspectives, but this author nailed it. I assume it’s because he simply approached the character as a human being and wrote her accordingly, rather than concerning himself too much with perceived gender differences and reactions to particular scenarios. The things she goes through were – in my opinion – handled with respect and care, and emotional honesty.

Another thing I very much enjoyed was the author’s use of analogy, metaphor, and symbolism – understated but clever and effective, and all in service of the theme. Despite the heavy subject matter and the conversation about morality and empathy that this story elicits, it never comes across as preaching, or biased one way or the other about the “right” thing to do. It’s more like we’re just following honest human behaviour as it exists.

There are trigger warnings I’d like to give, but I’ll put them after the author and sales links, in case you review TWs as spoilers and don’t want to see them.

I’d recommend this novella to people who are interested in character-centric works, explorations of mental health and trauma responses, and those who enjoy quiet horror of a more thought-provoking nature. If you’re looking for supernatural horror, splatterpunk, or the glorification of violence, this isn’t for you.

If you’d like to purchase your own copy, you can find it here:


If you’d like to learn more about the author, you can find him here:


If you’d like to check out the publisher, you can find them here:


Scroll past the dots for the trigger warnings.







TW: mental health, depression, suicide, trauma, PTSD

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