Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu by Mercedes M Yardley

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Rating 9.5/10
An intense, but rewarding story about two broken people.

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AM&NL is a dark supernatural tale about two broken people who are fuelled by raw emotion. It is an intense story, but it is a rewarding story, and I think a lot of people will be able to connect with it. Also, it was recently voted on Reddit (r/fantasy) as the best piece of short fiction for 2013, which probably says more about how great this story is than what I can say in a few short paragraphs.

The story follows Montessa Tovar, a young stripper in an abusive relationship who works hard just to make ends meet. One night after work, Montessa is abducted by a truck driving serial killer called Lulu - turns out he has been watching her for a while and was just waiting for the right moment to pick her up. This is supposed to be the end for Montessa, but she is not like all the other girls Lulu has picked up - she can read his every thought. And that is exciting.

AM&NL is a dark tale, much darker than what I was expecting going in to this story. On this surface this is a story about bad people doing really bad things to other bad people. But beyond the surface there is depth of storytelling that you rarely get in a novella length story. Yardley doesn't shy away from the hard hitting scenes, instead she embraces them and writes them in a way that makes them feel so intimate. The story raises questions about the nature of love and what it's like to feel an emotion so intensely that you feel empowered to do things that in your previous life you never though were possible. Over the course of 174 pages we are taken on a wild emotional rollercoaster from hopelessness to happiness and back again, and it is a testament to Yardley's writing that she makes this rollercoaster feel so natural.

The two leads in this story, Montessa and Lulu, are complex characters with tragic backstories that depict depressing falls from grace. The backstories will feel familiar, making use of common tropes that border on the stereotypical, but Yardley finds a way to make it work so that her characters do not become stock standard caricatures. For me, it is the raw emotion that brings these characters to life, and this is enhanced by Montessa's ability to read Lulu's thoughts. Montessa and Lulu interact without any barriers, without any safeguards, and this allows them to soar to great heights. But it also increases the risk of crashing and burning, and when they crash, they crash hard.

AM&NL is a dark supernatural tale about two broken people who are fuelled by raw emotion. It is an intense story, but it is a rewarding story, and I think a lot of people will be able to connect with it. Also, it was recently voted on Reddit (r/fantasy) as the best piece of short fiction for 2013, which probably says more about how great this story is than what I can say in a few short paragraphs.

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