Rating: 5 out of 5
Life isn’t always cut-and-dry. Sometimes, the most terrible of circumstances can directly lead to the most wondrous acts of creation. A personal tragedy can spur an artist to craft their life’s seminal work. Addiction can result in the addict steering an otherwise ill-fated existence onto a path of hopefulness. Society can rally around a national catastrophe, bringing people together, opening up pathways to communication and goodwill. This is true even on a cosmic scale, when something as violent as the Big Bang leads to the creation of life, itself.
And sometimes, an abused woman and a serial killer can find love, because existence can be the darkest of jokes, whose punch-line is hidden beneath layer after layer of human frailty. It is a play in ten thousand disjointed acts without an ending. A contradiction that is at once both alluring and terrifying.
Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu is all of this, and so much more.
Mercedes Yardley, as an author, is herself a contradiction. Her work is darkly whimsical, gorgeously macabre, optimistically cynical, and outwardly aloof, with a dash of cheerful angst thrown in for good measure. Her gift with prose is magical; she’s very nearly creating long-form poetry, channeling every bit of darkness you could imagine, stuffing it into a black hole, churning and squeezing and choking the emotions for all they’re worth, and spitting out something absolutely breathtaking on the other side.
I really cannot say enough about this book. Sure, you can likely find many antagonists as depraved as Lulu the serial killer. Yes, there have often been Fallen Woman heroines that are as lonely, pathetic, and cursed as Montessa. But you would be hard pressed to find another work of fiction that could demonstrate as much dreadful wonder in their mutual discovery of each other. One is evil, the other tortured; together, their story is somber, ugly, and yet eye-mistingly wonderful.
And yes, there is a message lurking within the beautiful prose, hidden in the glint of Lulu’s First Kill Knife. Buried beneath the layers of Montessa’s abuse. Lingering inside the suffocating miasma of ambiguity that governs both of their thoughts.
But what that message is, is up to you to decide.
That is the last contradiction Yardley has given you.
Damn, how I love this appallingly beautiful book.
I think I’ve found a new favorite.
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