Book Review: Lost Highways from Crystal Lake Publishing

Lost Highways – Dark Fictions From The Road launches today

Crystal Lake Publishing has quickly become one of my favourite indie horror imprints over the last year and their most recent publication Lost Highways – Dark Fictions From The Road, edited by D. Alexander Ward cements them in my top 5 horror publishers that I will always turn to with confidence.

Check out the book blurb – it’s sure to suck you in…

It’s dangerous out there…on the road.

The highways, byways, and backroads of America are teeming day and night with regular folks. Moms and dads making long commutes. Teenagers headed to the beach. Bands on their way to the next gig. Truckers pulling long hauls. Families driving cross country to visit their kin.

But there are others too. The desperate and the lost. The cruel and the criminal.

Theirs is a world of roadside honky-tonks, truck stops, motels, and the empty miles between destinations. The unseen spaces.

car headlights at night

And there are even stranger things. Places that aren’t on any map. Wayfaring terrors and haunted legends about which seasoned and road-weary travellers only whisper.

But those are just stories. Aren’t they?

Find out for yourself as you get behind the wheel with some of today’s finest authors of the dark and horrific as they bring you these harrowing tales from the road.

Tales that could only be spawned by the endless miles of America’s lost highways.

So, go ahead and hop in. Let’s take a ride.

And if that doesn’t get your horror senses tingling, just look at the impressive author line-up…

There isn’t an author on this list that I haven’t wanted to read with avid anticipation. What I love most about this anthology is the great mix of seasoned writers alongside emerging new talent. What a perfect balance:

  • Introduction by Brian Keene
  • Doungjai gam & Ed Kurtz — “Crossroads of Opportunity”
  • Matt Hayward — “Where the Wild Winds Blow”
  • Joe R. Lansdale — “Not from Detroit”
  • Kristi DeMeester — “A Life That is Not Mine”
  • Robert Ford — “Mr. Hugsy”
  • Lisa Kröger — “Swamp Dog”
  • Orrin Grey — “No Exit”
  • Michael Bailey — “The Long White Line”
  • Kelli Owen — “Jim’s Meats”
  • Bracken MacLeod — “Back Seat”
  • Jess Landry — “The Heart Stops at the End of Laurel Lane”
  • Jonathan Janz — “Titan, Tyger”
  • Nick Kolakowski — “Your Pound of Flesh”
  • Richard Thomas — “Requital”
  • Damien Angelica Walters — “That Pilgrims’ Hands Do Touch”
  • Cullen Bunn — “Outrunning the End”
  • Christopher Buehlman — “Motel Nine”
  • Rachel Autumn Deering — “Dew Upon the Wing”
  • Josh Malerman — “Room 4 at the Haymaker”
  • Rio Youers — “The Widow”

creepy man with shadow

Some of my favourite moments…

When you’ve finished Lost Highways, you’ll never look at a road trip the same way again. The stories all have elements that were very relatable in their mundane simplicity that once or twice after I’d finished the book I’d find myself in my car, on the road or flicking on the car stereo and I’d have a momentary and uneasy flashback to a scene from one of the stories.

old person in carThe book opens with by  “Crossroads of Opportunity” by Doungjai Gam & Ed Kurtz which had an unsettling “Tales from the Crypt” vibe that had me actually checking the back seat of my car before driving off, just to make sure I had no unwanted passengers. As if right? But this story left a lingering sense of paranoia that trumped any rational part of my brain.

“Back Seat” by Bracken MacLeod hit me hard, it’s difficult to explain why other than to say that I “felt” this story. Reading for me is much more than just churning through words on a page, it’s about the emotional intensity, the aftertaste and the sense of connection. This particular story latched on and didn’t let go.

There is good consistency throughout this anthology. Rarely are so many of the stories in a collection all on point but these just came together really well and some of the more speculative stories still have me lamenting and pondering the end and wondering…why?. So much so that I may revisit this post on further reflection and add some more defined thoughts on possible subtexts.

skeleton road signFinal thoughts…

Lost Highways – Dark Fictions From The Road, edited by D. Alexander Ward is out now in paperback and ebook from Crystal Lake Publishing. For author line-up, quality of writing, sub-genre variety, thematic consistency and overall ability to trigger the senses it cranks up a very worthy 5 skulls from me.

book review 5 stars
I give this book 5 skulls

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