While this may be Mercedes Yardley's debut novel, she has built quite a reputation with her short story collection, Beautiful Sorrows, and novella, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love. Mercedes blends the fantastic with the weird, often with the budding of a romance or journey through a mother's love and loss. Simply put, she writes some of the best fiction out there because of how she can wow and peel open the emotions of the heart.
Nameless: The Darkness Comes seems like a perfect type of story to craft for her debut novel. Luna is a young woman who has seen demons since her childhood. She's got a bit of an attitude about this burden, but there is kindness under her shell. Nameless is the story of her encountering forces strong enough to break open her shell and how she'll respond, either to become more hardened or to find a way to let the loving person out without becoming weak, as she fears.
Mercedes wields her gift for strange and fantastic imagery to show us her version of the demon world and combines that with her sensitivity to multiple forms of human relationships, each striking open strong emotional reactions. Luna lives with her brother and his very young daughter. His wife left him years back and Luna has helped him take care of her. They have a troubled past because their parents are dead and father killed himself. Luna meets a troubled guy with attractive green eyes and begins to fall for him. Around this time, the demon world interferes, pushing them apart and threatening the lives of everyone she loves.
The story starts out with everything I wanted from Mercedes, touching moments of loving people facing the darkest our world has to offer mixed with her unique narrative voice that blends humor and attitude seamlessly. I knew right away that I loved the world she was revealing, with its demons that slither around like snakes only she can see. I enjoyed how her and her brother have some animosity over him not taking seriously her claim of seeing demons, as well as how she loves on his child as her own. When she meets Green Eyes, I was already reading with a constant grin at the snarky humor, and often laughed out loud.
As the story unfolded, however, the meat of what I enjoyed so much in the beginning thinned out into minimal interest. Part of this may be because of how Luna became separated from the characters, taking away the exchanges that made the first part so enjoyable and stealing opportunity to strengthen my empathy for whom she cares for. Her snarkiness also lost its humor. There were action scenes with demons and a haunted house, but they just weren't as powerful as her best and seamed to hold back at times for a grand finale. This could also be because she was chasing after people I hadn't developed enough sympathy for.
Around the 75% mark, the story turned around and ended very well. The pieces laid by scenes I marginally enjoyed ended up having significant impact on her journey and struggle. An event around the 60% mark really made her relationship with her brother take hold. Another made me feel her connection with the girl. Really, from 75% on there is wave after wave of strong emotion and fantastic imagery in the action.
Nameless is the first book in a trilogy that promises to uncover the rest of the iceberg of this war with demons. The heroine, Luna, is strong, funny, and rooted in empathy through all the emotions we experienced with her in this first installment. I'm hoping for the second and third books to more consistently display the kind of unrelenting story elements and narrative voice that made the beginning and end of this book so memorable and enjoyable. Mercedes is so gifted, I have total faith that she can.
Graphic novels (in this case a collection of short fairy tale type stories) are not my normal kind of reading, but the online sample gave me chills and made me want to read more. I received my hardback copy in the mail yesterday and am really impressed with the quality of its presentation. The dead white trees on the cover are raised and add an intimate texture which furthers the feeling of becoming immersed in the story. The images do a fantastic job of evoking the right thrill. I suspect I'll be a big fan of Emily Carroll by the end if the first two stories are any indication of what's to come. (The book contains an intro, five stories and a conclusion.)
The introduction story is creepy and sets the right tone. This book is for those who enjoy the tension of something coming out of the dark.
Our Neighbor's House - Three girls home alone while their father goes hunting. He warned them to pack up and leave for their neighbor's house if he didn't return by the third night. When he doesn't return, the story gets truly scary. I don't exactly understand the ending, but it still produced the right effect. (view spoiler) 4.5 Stars
A Lady's Hands are Cold - Wow. If I were to do this justice with pictures of scenes, I'd have too many pictures than I could share. This is a beautifully illustrated book, and the story is superb. The two factors go hand in hand to make every sight effectively terrifying. I didn't see this ending coming either and it was fantastic. In this story, two people are married and the wife meets the ghost in her new mansion. 5 Stars
His Face all Red - This story is a toss up on more or less scary than the last. Two brothers go into the woods to kill a monster. I don't want to spoil anything. Again, powerful frights with each line and picture that kept me engaged to the end. 5 Stars
My Friend Janna - At this point I'm daydreaming as I read about how excited I am to tell people about this book. People who don't normally read graphic novels but love horror. I'm going to tell them and they are going to love it and tell their friends. This book will make waves. It just needs to be read.
For this story, two friends play around with people and ghosts, but their tricks come back in a very bad way. This one felt longer, and in a good way. From the first line to the last image this was haunting and as enjoyable as any story you could read in five minutes. 5 Stars
The Nesting Place - No drop off at all and possibly the scariest one yet. An orphan who remembers her mother telling her about ghosts and monsters who are rings of teeth and... well I'll let you read about them. Her visit to her brother and new fiance is more frightening than I thought it could be. 5 Stars
The conclusion is beautiful and a nice parting gift to let this book's collective power linger.
Read this today. If you enjoy horror and beautiful art combines, you must read this.