First, the premise
Maggie decided to have an affair. No one needed to know. Not even her lover.
Who would it hurt, if Maggie decided to carry on a torrid affair in her mind? It would soothe her feelings, hurt by her husband’s emotional abandonment while he worked on a disturbing new murder case. It would provide an outlet for the dizzying desire she felt for her employer. It would make her feel loved and appreciated and better able to be a good wife and mother. After all, it’s not really cheating if it’s only a fantasy. Right?
But Maggie loses control of the fantasy as lust becomes love, and things she believed confined to her own imagination are somehow known to her spectral lover. A harmless mind game spins out of control and threatens the sanctity of Maggie’s greatest treasure – her family.
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”center” asin=”0615487092″ cloaking=”default” height=”500″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51lvmkcqI7L.jpg” tag=”superversivesf-20″ width=”328″]Oh, this was a fun little ride of weird.[/easyazon_image]
Night Machines has three interesting character studies. Maggie is the bored housewife married to the “boring” cop, and her brand new boss is the nerdy kid from high school who grew up to be a billionaire with the looks of a guy on the cover of a romance novel. The new boss, Cambien, is a specialist in medication of dreams (which makes me wonder if his name is supposed to rhyme with Ambien).
It’s also three stories of obsession. Maggie’s husband is consumed by the case of a dead girl. Cambien has thought of Maggie since high school, and his thoughts start sweet and cute, and something darker starts to take shape. And then there’s Maggie herself, who decides to have her “non-affair” with Cambien, one purely consistent of daydreams and fantasies, and it starts to eat her up inside. I’d tell you what it made me think of, but it turns out to be a spoiler.
I always thought the Rod Serling meets Robin Cook equaled F. Paul Wilson. Nope. This is chocked-full with more of the irony found in the Twilight Zone. Especially since it starts with Maggie dreaming, and dreaming about what her life could be or should have been … and oh, boy, does it go the way of Nightmare on Elm Street. No, it’s not terrifying, I’d even suggest it could be given to Young Adults, but beware the fact that there are sexual situations, but nothing graphic.
Along the way, Night Machines explores the concepts of family, of love versus lust, and what happens when you live too much in your head. Because there are some times things in the dark that will eat you.
By the start of “act three” of the book … well, not to give too much away, but there was the scene with Maggie’s priest, where I had fulled expected the line “What part of thou shalt not covet did you not understand?”
I did not expect the sudden Catholic turn that the novel made, but it addressed every last point I had considered as I read through the book. That chapter alone made it more deeply philosophical and faithful than some books written by members of the Catholic Writer’s Guild. And better written.
At the end of the day, it’s a romance book that can even be read by people who hate romance novels. Why? Because I really hate romance novels, and this was fun..