Review: “Crossroads,” Laurel Hightower

Rating: 5 out of 5

Laurel Hightower’s horror novella Crossroads is a very psychological, slow-winding tale. 22-year-old Trey died nearly two years ago in a single-car accident. His mother, Chris, continues to visit his roadside memorial, keeping it clean and tidy. There, she has conversations with him, and his voice is very real to her. One day she accidentally bleeds on the ground by the memorial. Later that night, Trey appears on the street below and outside of her window. She tries making sacrifices of things that are important to her in order to bring him back, but doesn’t succeed until she comes back to blood. Unfortunately, as time goes on the visitations become later and shorter, and Trey doesn’t look well. What will Chris do in order to have her son back?

First, I have to say that this is the perfect example of “less can be more.” The gore is mild, but it’s so much more effective than splashing blood all over the page. I got genuinely squicked by it, which I often don’t feel when reading much gorier material.

My only–extremely mild–quibble with this story was that it seemed strange, since the first thing that brought Trey back was blood, that Chris took so long to return to the idea that blood was the needed sacrifice. Again, though, very mild quibble. It isn’t like your average mother of a dead son who’s seen him come back from the grave is going to be necessarily thinking straight.

I enjoyed seeing Chris interact with other characters–her ex-husband and his newer wife, her neighbor Dan who holds a torch for her (but is in no way pushy, thankfully), her son (in her head, at least), and of course her cat, Penny Lane. She’s never portrayed or treated by others as deluded or hysterical, and I didn’t realize how important that was to me until it didn’t happen.

I shed a few tears by the end of it, and I really think it’s worth reading. It’s very sad, and tough to read in some ways, but also really powerful.

Content note for self-harm and suicidality.

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