Laura is just a young girl at the start of Gemma Amor’s Dear Laura. It’s her birthday, she has her first boyfriend and she’s just experienced her first kiss.
Her perfect reality is about to be shattered. She runs home for something she forgot. Before she can get back to her new boyfriend he gets into a vehicle with a strange man.
Bobby is never seen again. The police never find a trace of him anywhere. His mother blames Laura, who is too young to understand the burden of guilt that has been placed on her is unfair and unreasonable. Over the years, Laura struggles with relationships.
She’s also tormented by other secrets. Someone leaves letters for her every year, on her birthday. And in exchange for personal items they promise clues about where Bobby is. But she can’t go to the police. She has to go along with the sender’s demands and keep this secret. It’s the only way she can earn the sender’s trust so that they’ll tell her where to find Bobby.
Amor follows Laura’s physical and psychological development. She deftly demonstrates how PTSD and years of torment take a toll on Laura and lead her to make the choices that culminate in a stunning climax.
This book easily straddles genre lines between crime and horror. It is crime, because there is an abduction and there is ongoing harassment. It’s evident Laura is being stalked, because the letters follow her even when she moves. The book is psychological horror because of the ongoing torment Laura experiences. Her mental and physical health are impacted by the letters, demands and secrets, and how this impacts her determines the ultimate choices she makes, choices that drive the plot forward.
This is a debut that shows the tremendous potential from debut author Gemma Amor, who is undoubtedly one of the rising stars in the horror genre. Horror fans-and, I suspect, some crime fiction fans-won’t want to miss this one.