Chris mourns at her son’s roadside memorial every day, imaging what it would be like to speak to Trey one more time. As if her wish has been granted, she glimpses him outside her window at night, yet it’s not enough. A miracle demands sacrifice, and Chris is ready to do anything, even if it’s offering pieces of herself, to have her only child back in her life.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I don’t like to have expectations for fear of disappointment, but I couldn’t help but know that Crossroads was going to be great. I’ve no hesitation in echoing what others have said about this novella time and time again, because honestly, it deserves every word. Laurel Hightower has a knack for creating complex characters that jump off the page, their experiences and emotions just so very raw, like she’s pouring in much of her own pain. In this case, it’s a mother grieving her son, and while I can’t admit to being a parent, motherhood was described with such passion and authenticity that it struck a chord in my cold heart, and I can certainly comprehend how devastating such a tragedy would be. Imagine believing you could bring a loved one back from the dead, see them again, talk to them, that’s what Hightower explored with Chris. Loss and grief are a part of life and powerful subjects when it comes to fiction. While not everyone’s cup of tea – the “real” side of horror – I’ve always appreciated hard-hitting stories that attempt to get in my head and mess me up.
Chris’s struggle brought about a severe sense of dread, but also a form of fascination that made me feel sightly sick. The way she spiralled was one of those instances where I knew it wasn’t going to end well, but I couldn’t help but remain glued to the page. I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly squeamish either, but certain scenes made me uneasy – it was intimate, sharing in Chris’s obsession that escalated quite horrifically. All I wanted was for her to find peace, especially when there were threads of hope in her life that became more apparent.
Obviously there was a supernatural element, but it was on the quieter side of things, without any big, extravagant displays. Chris based her knowledge on a TV show, resulting in a lot of uncertainties and unanswered questions, therefore it lacked the convenient plot devices to tie it up – you know, the trope of the mysterious book or person that comes along to explain everything to the protagonist. It was just one woman with an unreliable source, and that only added to the unpredictability of it all. The ending itself, while I won’t go into detail, didn’t offer any clarification either, instead leaving it up to the reader to try and make sense of events. It worked for me, leaving me in a state of awe well after I closed the book.
In conclusion: Crossroads was an anticipated read, telling the story of Chris and her life following the death of her only son. The writing was perfect in coaxing out emotion – it made me feel for Chris and worry at the lengths she was willing to go to achieve the impossible. There’s no sugarcoating how heartbreaking the entire novella was, but I was so thoroughly engrossed the entire time. It further confirms that Hightower excels in developing poignant storylines with fantastic characters. I can’t wait to read more of her work.
The first time Chris buried a part of herself by her son’s roadside cross, it was an accident.
© Red Lace 2021