"Crossroads" Book Review

Written by Steve Pattee

Published by Off Limits Press

crossroads laurel hightower poster large

Written by Laurel Hightower
2020, 110 pages, Fiction
Released on August 9th, 2020


I’m glad I don’t have kids. I mean, I could give you a ton of reasons why my life is glorious without them, but I can narrow it down to just a few great ones. First, money. It’s all mine. Second, I don’t have to share anything. I’m not in kindergarten anymore and sharing sucks. Third, I can leave and go someplace fun whenever I want, and I don’t have to go to dumb stuff like graduations and pretend like I’m having fun. And fourth, I don’t stress over kids. Because I know me, and it would stress me out every damn time my kids left the house (even though I’d encourage them to get the hell out; it’s a catch-22).

Because I don’t have kids, one thing that’s always annoyed me is when parents told me, “You don’t know what it’s like.” Many times this was me asking them why they let their kids act like assholes without them doing their actual job of parenting. But after reading Laurel Hightower’s Crossroads, yeah, those parents are right. I don’t know what it’s like.

The story begins with Chris still in mourning over the tragic death of her son, Trey, who died as the result of a car accident (there’s more to it, but I don’t want to spoil the how exactly of it, as it’s important to the book). She still goes to the scene of his death daily and talks to him, as I’m sure many parents and people who lost loved ones would do. On one such visit, she accidentally cuts herself and the blood seeps into the ground where her son died. Naturally, this kickstarts something supernatural and she starts seeing the ghost of Trey at the same time each night.

At first, things are grand, but Chris notices he’s getting weaker as time goes on, so she quickly deduces that she must make more sacrifices to give strength to her son. And the sacrifices she makes. But do they work?

I’m going to leave it at that because, at 110 pages, it’s best to keep it simple and let you succumb to the sheer pain and brutality found in this book for yourself. Because this is a painful read. Never have I read something that so intricately describes in both words and actions the loss of a child that I could, as a non-parent, grasp that feeling. Chris’ journey in Crossroads, however, put it within reach. I can honestly say I can’t see myself doing 99% of the things she does for more moments with her son, but Hightower is such a skilled wordsmith, I almost get it.

But make no mistake, as emotionally devastating as this novella is, it’s still a horror novel, and an unflinching one at that. Chris is talking to a ghost after all. Not only are you dealing with the travesty of a parent tragically losing a child, but you also have to stomach the lengths Chris is going to just to see her child. And I don’t even want to get into that ending. Laurel Hightower does not care about your feelings. At all.

Without going into it, because, dammit, I refuse to spoil anything, even indirectly, the ending is a gut punch. And a sock in the mouth. Basically, get ready for an ass beating, because that ending is ruthless. Which is something because everything that leads up to it is so bleak.

Not everything is going to come up roses, and I adore authors like Hightower who don’t pretend to live in a place where the sun rises every day. Sometimes it doesn’t.

This is Hightower’s second book, and her first, Whispers in the Dark, has moved way up my TBR. If Crossroads is any indication of what we have to look forward to of her future work, sign me up. I’m ready.


Overall: 4.5 Cover
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Steve Pattee
US Editor, Admin
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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