book review, horror

Highway Twenty by Michael J Moore

My first book of 2020 is the fantastic horror novel, Highway Twenty, published by Hellbound Books.

Conor Mitchell lives in the quiet town of Sedrow Woolley and works as a mechanic in the next town over. He has a girl who spends the night on the weekends, and even though he would like more of a commitment, she seems to want to keep it casual.

When odd things start happening in Sedrow Woolley, Conor thinks he’s losing his mind, until there is no way that he can continue denying the reality of his situation.

A reimagining of The Body Snatchers for the 21st Century, the timing of Moore’s book is just as apt as Jack Finney’s in the 1950’s. The idea of your neighbors not being who you think they are touches on fear and paranoia buried deep in the human psyche. What if the tribe turns against us and throws us out? What if we wake up and our family aren’t our family anymore?

Moore packs his novel full of frightening imagery, grotesque set pieces and unsavory characters. For the horror lover, there is lots to sink your teeth into. However, there is more to Highway Twenty than the mere visceral thrill and desire to know what happens next. The characters are well realized and hold emotional weight. The narrative flirts with the idea of the damaged and the different being able to see through the surface illusions. There is a dreamlike quality to Conor’s experiences that disarms the reader as much as the character. Overall, you are left wondering what you would do in his position.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book when I started it, but once the central premise was introduced, I got excited as I love stories with this theme. John Carpenter’s The Thing and The X Files episode, Folie à Deux, are some of my favourite examples of the monster hiding in plain sight, along with The Body Snatchers, of course. I happily add Highway Twenty to this list, and I look forward to reading more of the author’s work.

The only sour note for me, apart from some crude language which I understand for the aesthetic choice of the book, was the repeated taking the holy name in vain by the characters.

Thus, I award Highway Twenty

Highway Twenty is available for ebook $5.06 and $14.99 print book on Amazon.

Thank you to Hellbound Books for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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