4 out of 4 stars
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Do you ever have nightmares? Imagine those nightmares come true, and you find yourself living your dreams, but not the dreams you had in mind for your life. Crossroads: The Death and Life of Tom Valentine by Andrew Slac is a unique crime mystery with some fantasy and magic thrown in. Tom Valentine had never had a dream in his life until recently, when he began having nightmares. On a visit to New Orleans to celebrate his late mother's birthday with his dad and go to Mardi Gras, Tom was thrown into a real-life nightmare of the unimaginable.
As Tom and his dad were strolling around the streets of New Orleans, enjoying Mardi Gras, Tom saw a little boy in tattered clothes wandering around alone. He convinced the little boy to come into a restaurant and eat with him and his dad. If Tom had known where his path would lead him simply because he helped the little boy named Ben, he would not have chased after him when he darted away into the crowd after eating. While in pursuit of Ben, a man attacked Tom in an alley and beat him severely. When he came to, he was in the middle of one of his nightmares, but this time it was reality, not a dream. Had Tom died during the attack? Where was he? Why was his skin so strange-looking? And why was there a long incision down the middle of his chest with black stitching? He had to find the answers. Who had done this to him? Would he ever see his dad and family again? Tom was unprepared for the horrifying events that would come next.
Andrew Slac weaved a supernatural tale of suspense and horror that boggles the mind. He developed characters far beyond the imagination of the reader. Slac also tosses some humor into the mix, which I appreciated. The reader should open their vision to any possibility as they read this book. The storyline is so far-fetched one needs to let their imagination do the reading.
My favorite part of the book was the strange characters Tom met while living out this real-life nightmare. Special characters, not run-of-the-mill. There was a talking padlock Tom called Gilbert (aka Gil), Franky, a magic store owner, and Vitolio, a man Tom rescued after a tree fell on his legs and pinned him down. Many of the characters were the same as in his nightmares. Gil and Vitolio took up residence in Tom's cave, and personalities clashed daily. The author's imagination in building these characters and the storyline was fascinating.
My only objection to the book is some of the gory action scenes were a bit lengthy, and a few were similar in nature. As I got closer to the end, I was ready to discover how it would all end for Tom. Shorter action scenes would have made more of an impact on me.
The author's vivid imagination in writing this book, the characters' uniqueness, the horrific encounters the protagonist experienced in this story, and exceptional editing all warrant a perfect rating. Therefore, I am giving this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to mystery crime lovers and those who enjoy fantasy and magic. However, this book is for an adult audience because of the graphic scenes and some strong adult language, which may be offensive to some readers and disturb young teens.
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