Dear Laura by Gemma Amor

Pain both mental and physical awaits Laura when, on every birthday, she receives a letter from a stranger that claims to know about the friend that disappeared when she was a young teen. As time goes on, the demands get more and more extreme, haunting Laura well into adulthood.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If I had children I’d want to keep them indoors forever as Dear Laura hones in on stranger danger, where in the blink of an eye lives can be changed forever. It centres on Laura, who witnesses her best friend enter a van and be driven off, never to be seen again. This leads to a penpal relationship between Laura and the abductor, where in exchange for updates on her friend, she must provide something personal, and it escalates from there. The dynamic was very much as disturbing as you might imagine, and I found Amor’s writing to be compelling, especially with how she handled the subject matter; there’s no doubt that it must’ve been unpleasant to write, as it was certainly unpleasant to read. Horror as a genre encompasses so much, and nothing is more thought-provoking to me than the evils people can commit. With those evils, the domino effect begins, and this is exactly what Amor touched on – the mental health of Laura who has to continue the arrangement for years, failing to truly escape her perverted correspondent.

While I appreciated the writing being subtle in some respects, there were areas when the lack of information was noticeable, the why and how of things not quite presented to the reader, an example being the reason behind Bobby getting into the van as willingly as he did. It was a mystery unsolved, but I had to keep to keep in mind that I learned only what Laura did, and sometimes answers prove evasive, no matter how much we try to seek them out. That said, what I couldn’t connect with at all was Laura’s actions in some instances, but that’s just me being hyperaware of character’s acting carelessly in bad situations (I really can’t help it, I swear). Ever want to scream at fictional people for doing something stupid? Me in a nutshell.

In conclusion: Dear Laura consists of two timelines – of Laura at fourteen, followed by her three decades later – where she enters a bizarre relationship with a predator that alters her life in significant ways. The man demands personal objects in return for details of her friend, of which he abducted right in front of her. Amor hones in on the psychological, exploring the impact of grief and guilt. I was locked in immediately, ready to go wherever Laura took me, and despite some minor issues along the way, I wasn’t disappointed with how Amor navigated the complexities of Laura’s journey.

Notable Quote:

And in doing so, he had taught her a lesson, a harsh and immutable truth: that nothing is permanent. Everything can change. A life can alter beyond recognition in the time it takes to simply let go of someone’s hand.

© Red Lace 2022

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