Kia Heavey’s Night Machines is a difficult-to-classify novel (more or less paranormal suspense with strong romantic elements) that asks the reader to really think about what marital fidelity is. Among the many surprising things in this novel is, despite its very Christian theme, it is not a Christian book at all. It is, instead, a very female book, one that takes the darkest and most private thoughts of a woman and lays them bare.
In Night Machines, Maggie Moore and her husband, police officer Rowan, are undergoing a transformation in their lives. Maggie, after devoting herself to her family as a stay-at-home mother for five years, is re-entering the workforce; Rowan has been presented with a difficult case, the murder of a little girl, that haunts him when he looks at their children, Hazel, 5, and Charlie, 2. Maggie is additionally presented with a terrible temptation: her new boss, a wealthy, handsome, and charming man who desires nothing more than to put her at the center of his life. Both Maggie and Rowan turn inward to deal with these problems rather than to one another, a reaction that begins to tear them apart.
When Rowan begins to work double shifts in hopes of solving the murder, Maggie is left even more alone. She creates a rich fantasy life with her boss at the center of an imagined affair. Soon she begins dreaming about it, wonderful lush erotic dreams that fulfill her in ways her husband is currently unable to. This seems like an innocent solution to a complex problem – until her dreams begin to turn real.
Night Machines was a difficult book for me to read, largely because Kia Heavey manages to make the story both realistic and personal. Every woman has this dark fantasy life within her – heck, that’s why Fifty Shades of Gray is such an enormous success. It is uncomfortable to stand back and look at that fantasy, questioning whether it does more damage than good to your life and mental health. Kia shows us how that fantasy life can twist and turn against you, warping into a monster that controls you. While Night Machines‘ monster turned out to be quite real, it did not have to be. Maggie’s fantasy pulled her away from her husband and family simply because it was more attractive to her than the daily grind. Our fantasies do the same for us, whether it’s the wonderful dream of hitting the lottery or imagining the road not taken. When our fantasy lives take root and shape our waking thoughts, we are no longer living in the present real world, but instead are a step removed from ourselves, cheating us and those we love by weakening the ties we have and sapping our desires for real things.
Night Machines is set primarily in modern Connecticut, largely in a big pharmaceutical company, and Ms. Heavey does a remarkable job of evoking the unique atmosphere of this world (I once worked at Pfizer in Connecticut – she captured it perfectly.)
I highly recommend this book to women who want to understand themselves better and to men who are brave enough to look at a darker side of women. Unlike many self-published novels, Night Machines is not only well-written but carefully crafted to evoke some very specific feelings. I found it to be not particularly frightening, but haunting, leaving behind questions about me that I’m not certain I can ever answer. I very much hope that this is only the first of many books from Kia Heavey.(Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book but no other compensation.)