Thomas Campbell famously remarked: “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” This proves painfully true in Crossroads, the newest release from rising horror superstar Laurel Hightower. Her previous novel, Whispers in the Dark (2018), garnered tons of well-deserved accolades. This time around, Crossroads explores a mother, Chris, mourning the loss of her son, Trey. There is plenty of real-life horror in that itself. Things take a turn toward the supernatural as Chris recalls the concept of a crossroads demon, like the one that Robert Johnson was famously rumored to have sold his soul to in exchange for musical success.
Grief can make people see and believe all kinds of things, including the deepest desires of their hearts. Chris is no exception. Hightower reminds us that a mother’s grief in particular is a powerful and fearsome force. She further explores how grief can be monstrous, how it changes people, how the ripple effects of one death can bleed into another. Most of all, she delves into how the suddenness of such a close death can ravage a person in ways I don’t have the words to explain. It is an unspeakable pain that others question, but that to the griever, make perfect sense.
When the mourner can’t accept that the dead are gone, it never leads to good things. Even though we have seen this concept play out countless times, Hightower manages to present it in a way that seems new and hits home in a meaningful way.
If you have not checked out Hightower’s work, Crossroads is a devastating and impactful place to start. Here’s to hoping we see many more releases from this bright and talented author.