The Fiction Fox
Review: Crossroads - Laurel Hightower
Genre: Horror, Novella
Published: Fireside Horror, August 2020
My rating: 4/5 stars
"The first time Chris buried a part of herself by her son's roadside cross, it was an accident."
Crossroads is a harrowing, disturbing and genuinely unsettling horror novella about grief and the single minded obsession that results from a loss that is larger than one can carry.
When Chris's son dies in a tragic car crash, her world is devastated. Consumed by grief, lost in a world of pain and emptiness, she returns to the cross that marks his final resting place daily, having conversations with her son in her mind, hoping for him to answer. After an accidental drop of blood lands on her son's memorial Chris thinks she sees his ghost outside her window.
Learning about the legend of the Crossroads Demon, who will bring back the dead in return for a blood-sacrifice, Chris becomes increasingly determined to do anything it takes to see and speak to her son a final time. Her obsession driving her further into a dark spiral that may lead to a ghost, or something else entirely...
As a reviewer, I recommend and judge books that deal with grief all the time and ones like these are always the hardest to “recommend”. On the one hand: Crossroads is a brilliant and frighteningly realistic portrayal of the dark and painful side of grief. Chris’ grief is tangible on every page; her son was the central axis to her life, and now everything is being sucked into the vaccuum left behind by his absense. Forget about ghouls, demons and jumpscares; as someone who’s visited those depths of grief, no horror is more terrifying than that. As such, it’s a brilliant piece of horror-writing, as well as grief-fiction, and I’d recommend it.
On the other hand: as a “grief-recommendation” I can only endorse it if you’re in a place where you’ve been able to put a little distance between you and your grief. This novella is horror first and foremost: it’s heavy-dark-little-light and characters make irrational and unwise decisions that might leave you in a dark headspace if you’re not able to properly challenge them.
In many ways, this is similar to Pet Sematary; brilliant horror, but check yourself (and contentwarnings) before you wreck your emotions with this one.
Find this book here on Goodreads.