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.
Title: Crossroads | Author: Laurel Hightower | Publisher: Off Limits Press LLC | Pub Date: 10/08/2020 | Pages: 110 | ASIN: B08CBW8GBC| Genre: Horror | Language: English | Source: Advanced Review Copy | Starred Review
Crossroads follows Chris’s journey, which is not an easy one. Chris’s grief is palpable. Hightower uses the timing and circumstances to create a compelling character who is relatable. Sometimes, it’s hard to touch people’s grief. It isn’t easy to consider Chris’s loss, but her grief is understandable and her circumstances elicit empathy from the reader.
There’s also an emotional investment produced by Chris’s circumstances. We want to see her work through the stages of grief. We want her to find happiness. We want her to heal. Hightower shines when she’s breathing life into a compelling female protagonist who is damaged, and although Chris is struggling, there’s never a sense that Chris is weak. She is rational and logical. She’s kept going and continued working. Her life has not completely stopped because of her grief. Yes, her grief has affected her, but not to the point where she can’t function. And Chris has the emotional strength to process her relationship with her mother and deal with it in a mature manner.
By ensuring our investment in the protagonist’s story, Hightower has set us up for an emotional journey. It’s the reader who is bargaining with the author, hoping against hope that Chris will turn a corner. I understood why she was doing what she was doing, and I sympathized, but as things progressed my fear steadily increased. The sense of dread and horror was palpable.
Hightower has the confidence needed to avoid giving the reader all the answers and focus on the protagonist’s emotional journey. This makes Crossroads more harrowing, because the circumstances can’t be reasoned away. And there are just enough variables in the mix to keep readers on their toes, wondering how the story will end.
I appreciated the fact that Crossroads presented a divorced couple who genuinely still cared about each other. The respect and compassion was refreshing. It was also nice to see a protagonist who was not jealous of her ex-husband’s new wife, either. Chris genuinely liked Nat and got along with her, and Nat did not view Chris as a threat. It’s refreshing to read stories that don’t pit the women against each other as rivals for some man’s affection.
I also appreciated Chris’s relationship with Dan. Dan’s a compassionate, supportive person who is patient and respectful.
Hightower’s visceral writing made me squirm in my seat, but the compelling story held me spellbound through it all to the very last page. I definitely recommend Crossroads.
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