Crossroads: Laurel Hightower
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Oh, what might have been.
With Laurel’s debut novel ‘Whispers in the Dark‘ arriving in December 2018, many have expressed that if it had been released earlier in the year, it would’ve been a contender for a Stoker Award for Best Debut. ‘Whispers…‘ is a stunning read, and I’m in that category of folks who believe the statement about release timing, but this isn’t to open my review on a negative. No, it’s to highlight how talented Hightower is.
With that in mind, when it was announced that the upstart Off Limits Press would be releasing Hightower’s second release, a novella titled ‘Crossroads‘ the excitement was palpable.
What I liked: I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know Laurel over the last few years, so when I was able to snag a review copy for Kendall Reviews, I was elated.
‘Crossroads‘ is a story purely focused on grief and the way it manifests its ugly head. We are introduced to Chris. Divorced, alone and struggling to come to terms with the loss of her son, who died in a car crash. Not everything adds up with the events, but the fact remains – her son is dead.
She visits the site of the crash daily, spending time at the memorial placed there. But as time goes on, things seem ‘different.’
Laurel wrote this piece from a deep, dark place and the story benefitted greatly from her being willing to go there.
The secondary characters in this are great. Dan was a very compassionate addition to Chris’ story, purely a figure to be a rock, even when Dan didn’t exactly know what was needed.
For such a quick read, Hightower never let up on Chris’ spiral further into depression and the lengths she was willing to go to bring her son back.
The ending of this was pitch-perfect. Even the final chapter/epilogue was a fantastic touch.
What I didn’t like: It’s a minor thing, but at the beginning, I found our main character here to be very familiar when compared to the main character from ‘Whispers in the Dark.’ For those who start reading ‘Crossroads‘ and find that familiarity off-putting, I can assure you it doesn’t last long and they do walk very different paths.
Why you should buy it: If you like your horror dark, and filled with despair and emotion, look no further. Laurel is such a talent and watching the layers get stripped back level by level here shows just how deft she is at storytelling.
This one will be on a number of year-end “best of” lists and it’ll be absolutely warranted.
How far would you go to bring back someone you love?
When Chris’s son dies in a tragic car crash, her world is devastated. The walls of grief close in on Chris’s life until, one day, a small cut on her finger changes everything.
A drop of blood falls from Chris’s hand onto her son’s roadside memorial and, later that night, Chris thinks she sees his ghost outside her window. Only, is it really her son’s ghost, or is it something else—something evil?
Soon Chris is playing a dangerous game with forces beyond her control in a bid to see her son, Trey, alive once again.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
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