by Jonathan Maberry
St. Martin’s Press, 2018
Rain Thomas, recovering junkie, tangles with a monster from the past in Jonathan Maberry’s latest novel, Glimpse. Rain is a young woman living on the brink of personal collapse in Brooklyn. She spends her days in her tiny apartment and at a local diner with her closest friends, other addicts who act as a support group, calling themselves the Cracked World Society. Attempting to get her life together while dealing with a shameful secret from a decade earlier, Rain realizes not only did she miss a job interview by a full day, but also that the entire day has disappeared completely from her memory. After finding a pair of broken glasses, she begins to see visions through the cracked lens. These glasses put Rain on a collision course with the mysterious Doctor Nine, a haunting figure from her childhood dreams.
Maberry is a prolific author, having written multiple series and standalone novels. He is best known for his science fiction techo-thriller series featuring character Joe Ledger, as well as being credited by George A. Romero, the man known for making the zombie genre popular, for writing the unofficial sequel to the Night of the Living Dead film with his Dead of Night series. With Glimpse, Maberry returns to his horror and supernatural roots. This novel has some of the creepiest imagery Maberry has ever written, and his ability to blur the line between reality and Rain’s visions pulls the reader deeply into Rain’s dreamland, particularly with an opening scene which should make entering a shower a questionable act for any reader:
And then she screamed and jerked backward, half falling off the toilet, hitting the wall, recoiling as far and as fast as she could from the curtain.
No. From something on the other side of the curtain. Her slapping hand had hit something. It felt like...
Doctor Nine is one of Maberry’s most intriguing creations. He is part Charles Manx from Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, part Freddy Krueger. Fans of the Nightmare on Elm Street film series will notice a similar twisting of time and reality used against Rain and the members of the Cracked World Society. Each member of the group must face Doctor Nine throughout the novel, with the doctor forcing the group to lapse into old habits like some sort of mental boogeyman.
One standout new character to the Maberry canon is Gerald “Monk” Addison, the tattooed private detective with a temperament more like Joe Ledger than any classic hardboiled private eye. Monk does not make an appearance until halfway through the novel, but he immediately makes an impact on the story with his quest to help Rain face Doctor Nine. Seasoned readers of Maberry should be aware of his knack for creating small connections between all his stories. With Glimpse, he adds to his overarching universe, with a character from a past novel making a cameo appearance; though, reading Maberry’s back catalogue is unnecessary to be able to enjoy the story. Glimpse makes for a solid starting point for someone new to this universe.
Glimpse is a story of recovery, atoning for past mistakes, and facing fears. Maberry has had near success in Hollywood in the past, and Glimpse would make for an engaging adaptation on the silver screen and could make him more of a household name. Maberry has stated it is his favorite thing he has ever written. His most devoted readers of his ongoing series will surely clamor for more entries, but Glimpse stands alone as another page turning addition to his list of works.
This is Michael Feeney's first piece for Open Letters Review.
Michael Feeney is a book reviewer and pop culture junkie from the Philadelphia area. He is an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction.