Dear Laura: Gemma Amor
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I’ve long enjoyed that I connected with Gemma some time ago and really love seeing her releases come to life. Typically, on Twitter, she’ll share progress on her covers as well as little tidbits about what she’s working on. She’ll of course share attempts at jokes (ha!) and other parts of life’s adventures, but when ‘Dear Laura’ was released and was followed by rave reviews and a Stoker nomination, it was fantastic to see.
Now, having finally gotten around to reading this, I can see just why people loved this.
What I liked: ‘Dear Laura’ tells the haunting story, close to an biography, of Laura, as she grows up. When she was 14, her best friend and for a very, very short time, boyfriend, Bobby gets abducted. She witnesses it but unfortunately, the details she sees isn’t enough. Having to now live with the guilt of wishing she could’ve done more, she spirals into depression, until a note from the abductor shows up for her.
It’s at this point that Amor takes this from a 10 and ramps it up to a 20. We bounce back and forth between Laura on the home stretch of finding the abductor and what has led to this moment. We get some gorgeous moments, little snippets of insight into Laura and the ache she feels in her soul, but those are often bookended by a new snapshot of grief and horror.
The book itself is filled with short, snappy chapters and because of this ‘Dear Laura’ both flies along, but is absolutely dripping with dread. The tension is palpable as you move through the book, knowing at some point Laura will arrive at the final destination and hoping she gets to learn some truths.
What I didn’t like: Minor overall, but I wish we would’ve learned a bit more about ‘the why.’ Why Bobby, why was he smiling when he went with the man etc. It works well that we didn’t, but I would’ve loved a bit of insight from X.
Why you should buy this: Gemma is a fantastic writer and ‘Dear Laura’ is a stunning example of how to pull a reader along and make them develop anxiety and claustrophobia. I wanted to see what happened next and would’ve easily read this in a single sitting if I wasn’t reading so many other books at one time. This book delivers on all levels and should be read by everyone.
Well done, Gemma.
Every year, on her birthday, Laura gets a letter from a stranger. That stranger claims to know the whereabouts of her missing friend Bobby, but there’s a catch: he’ll only tell her what he knows in exchange for something…personal.
So begins Laura’s sordid relationship with her new penpal, built on a foundation of quid pro quo. Her quest for closure will push her to bizarre acts of humiliation and harm, yet no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape her correspondent’s demands. The letters keep coming, and as time passes, they have a profound effect on Laura.
From the author of Cruel Works of Nature comes a dark and twisted tale about obsession, guilt, and how far a person will go to put her ghosts to bed.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
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