Home Horror BooksFiction BOOK REVIEW: Laurel Hightower’s ‘Crossroads’ is Beautifully Horrifying

BOOK REVIEW: Laurel Hightower’s ‘Crossroads’ is Beautifully Horrifying

by Waylon Jordan

There is something inherently devastating about Laurel Hightower’s new novella. Titled Crossroads, the author dives deep into what it means to love someone so much more than yourself that you will give anything and everything to protect them and give them a second chance.

As the novella opens, it has been two years since Chris lost her son, Trey, in a tragic single-car accident. Almost every day she goes to the marker she erected at the sight of the accident to talk to him, carrying on an internal dialogue with the son she will never see again. So she thinks…

On one fateful day, she accidentally opens a cut on her hand at the memorial site and a few drops of blood soak into the ground. That night, she sees her son, not in a dream, not in a fit of imagination. He stands just beneath her window in the middle of the night, and from that moment on, her obsession–already unhealthy by some standards–grows by leaps and bounds.

Hightower wastes no time in opening a door into the secret life led by Chris. Sure, she goes to work and occasionally she has a drink with the next door neighbor, but Trey is her real life. Trey takes up her every spare moment. It is unhealthy, but it is all she knows.

As a reader, this peek into another’s life is often uncomfortable, and there were moments when I wanted to reach into the pages to try to talk Chris out of taking the next inevitable step.

Of course, we can’t do that. We can only turn the page and face the consequences with her.

What I find most interesting about the novel, however, is the idea of sacrifice tied to the crossroads. This is hardly a new idea. Tales of the mystic nature of the meeting of two roads go back at least as far as the ancient Greeks who, among their many gods and goddesses, worshiped the dark goddess Hecate sometimes called “the Goddess of the Crossroads.”

When something has existed for that long, no matter how it has changed throughout countless millennia, it speaks to us on a primal level and awakens dormant parts of our psyches if only for a moment. It is as foreign to us in 2020 as the idea of sacrifice, and yet it is powerful enough to force us to turn away with goose-pimpled flesh from darkened corners that no doubt hides horrors whose names we have long-forgotten.

Hightower teases that part of our brain repeatedly throughout Crossroads, twisting emotional screws inside us until we are not sure if we are horrified or heartbroken. If the reader is honest, by the time the last page is turned, they can admit they are standing on the very crossroads where those two things meet.

Now you must ask yourself an important question. “What am I willing to leave behind?”

Crossroads is the first novella published by Off Limits Press, a new indie publisher with Samantha Kolesnik at its helm. If this is the kind of stories she intends to publish, we could very well see great things going forward.

You can pre-order Crossroads by Laurel Hightower today on Amazon by CLICKING HERE. At only 110 pages, it’s a quick read that will grip you from cover to cover.

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