Dear Laura, by Gemma Amor
Dear Laura's cover art is also from the Author
“Dear Laura” is a perfect example – to this reader/writer - of craft. Gemma Amor’s novella demands to be devoured. The pacing is sublime, she weaves two fractured timelines from the same MC’s life, together, to highlight tensions in both and to make the entire novel an assault on the senses – when you are not squirming at the body horror of the MC fighting her way on an unexplained journey through a forest, with a time limit to her destination an ever-present threat, then you are reliving that MC’s past as she is stalked by a killer, and the demands on her psyche and her physical well-being and the mental anguish that entails. Two spotlights demanding the reader's constant unwavering attention to a destroyed woman’s life as she is caught and defined by the web that the stalker has weaved for her. It’s truly outstanding.
Gemma’s craft is seen in the early stages of the book, vague details that are left hanging, something heavy wrapped in a blanket in her bag, her fingers gripping something in her pocket – the writing craft here used in perfect co-ordination with the reader's engagement with the story, seamlessly drawing the reader on into the book, the need to discover the mystery and identity of those items an unspoken request from the author, and the reader obliges wholeheartedly. The talent here shines through with each passing moment – what starts as an implied threat turns in physical abuse, a broken nose, a demand for physical mutilation – the pressure and mental anguish the antagonist gleefully exerts on his victim is outstanding, your heart is in your throat for a good two-thirds of the book.
Mrs. Amor layers on the tension, skillfully adding mental anguish, guilt, hope, pain, suffering, and fury to a collective whole that leaves the reader no time to do anything but read on, as trapped and drawn into the world she has created as her two main characters, Laura and X, are to each other. The close is perfect, it could go no other way but to X’s plan – The writer knows clearly that every game must end, that in every other instance of cat and mouse, outside of cartoons, the mouse must always be devoured, even should it win. This a book about the effects mental trauma can leave on a person, how they can be shaped – even defined – by the trauma that haunts them. That even though the Antagonist must in the end pay for his crimes, the toll exerted from the pursuit of his game has a far higher cost. There is no winner here. It’s breathtaking.
There are flashes of genius – lines burned into my mind by their perfect placement –
“If a woman falls in a forest and no one is around to hear… does she make a sound?”
“And all the time, Laura kept wrapping little intimate parts of herself up in plastic…”
Lines that scream to the poetic call of Mrs. Amor’s influences – this is a voice of a talent that screams off the page quietly, succinctly, and grabs you by the heartstrings.
This was magnificent. Best book I have read this year. 5 out of 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Gemma, you have a fan. Girl on fire is my next stop.
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