“Came outta nowhere, didn’t it?“
Having read last year’s CROSSROADS, I knew Laurel Hightower’s latest had to be something, so I was giddy to score an ARC of BELOW. This is a fast paced, on-the-move, nasty little creature feature and and I unreservedly loved it!
Addy is making her first solo road trip to a horror convention. She’s recently divorced from her controlling husband and excited to be going away on her own. She’s been with Brian for so long, every single thing she does results in Brian denigrating her, even in her own head. Addy isn’t the most confident of drivers and stops off at a diner. There, she meets a trucker who offers to have her follow him as it’s now starting to snow. Addy, reticent at first, takes him up on his offer and continues her trip following behind him. Then his tractor trailer drives off the road and through the guardrail, disappearing down a steep hill. Discovering she has no cell signal, (because of course, she doesn’t), Addy decides she’s going to try to help. What will she do? Drive somewhere to get a signal? Turn back? Or go down the hill to see if the trucker is okay? You’ll have to read this to find out!
I adored Addy and I hated her ex-husband. We’re talking very strong emotions here. Addy had been taking her ex’s guff for so long, he belittles her via her own head. About this Laurel Hightower wrote:
“And there had been grief, lots of it over the years, but mostly she’d mourned herself. The narrow existence she’d embraced, the unfamiliar Addy-shaped mold she’d been melted down and poured into.“
Her sense of self was destroyed. She didn’t even know who she was anymore and I loved that about her. That and her incredible bravery and gumption-Addy is a bad-ass and she doesn’t even know it.
The scares in this book are vivid. They are real. There is a cinematic feel to them and it was easy to visualize everything that was going on. I kept thinking of the film Descent during one portion of the tale, and I pictured John Carpenter’s The Thing during a different section.
There is never a dull a moment here-even though Addy is alone for most of the book, conversations are going on in her head and the reader cannot help but stay by Addy’s side for the ride. The tension hums, (how did Hightower do that in a story about one woman in the dark?), and the pages flew; then I was done and bummed that it was over.
Sure to be one of my top ten books of the year, I can’t say enough good things about BELOW. As such it gets my highest recommendation!
Thanks to Laurel Hightower for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!