Book Review: Highwayman by Craig Saunders

“This is book is more than just horror; it blends myth and thriller with a story that gives the reader a glimpse into the mind of a man who is truly tired of living.”

Highwayman by Craig Saunders - coverKarl Goodman lost his daughter and it nearly destroyed his marriage. While trying to make it back to his wife, he is in a terrible plane crash. Aboard the doomed flight, he sees two people who are strangely familiar to him, an old man and woman, sitting calmly together as the plane is torn to pieces. He remembers them because he has seen them twice before in his life, once when he and his wife were just beginning a relationship, and once on a river bank when his young daughter died. After the crash, he awakens in a strange world, a land of fog. He befriends a little girl who explains he is in the land between Midnight, an odd afterlife. There amidst the smothering fog he is confronted by a stranger, a man who professes to being the killer of Karl’s daughter, Madeline Rose. He attacks the man but loses him.

His spirit departs his body as his wife comes to watch his final moments. He tells his estranged wife of finding the man responsible for their child’s death before he dies. Karl is brought to the cottage of an old woman in the land of fog, the same old woman he recognized on the plane. She tries to teach him about the strange world of the dead he is now a part of. He is a special soul, unlike the droves of “Blobs”, as his young friend calls them, that never seem to form. His new companions believe Karl has a purpose; to find the man who killed his daughter. This highwayman is a murderer who can walk between worlds.

Craig Saunders has built an extraordinary vision of this afterlife, the land of fog, the world between Midnight. There are thin spaces that souls can slip through, to accomplish things left unattended in the world of the living. The characters feel very real, the emotions as well, particularly the sadness the reader feels when reading of Madeline Rose and even Karl’s strained marriage with Bethany. The setting shifts between the land of the living and that of the dead and both are realized to a fine degree. The land of fog is at times dark but there are hints of brightness because souls can create their own “safe spaces” there with fields and cottages, delicious food and drinks…but there is also the forest, where the old things live. The highwayman also lives in the forest and Karl is sent to fulfill his purpose for being more than just a blob, he must destroy he thing that murdered his daughter.

This is book is more than just horror; it blends myth and thriller with a story that gives the reader a glimpse into the mind of a man who is truly tired of living. There are characters from old legends inhabiting the forest, adding a magical feel to the story. It works its way into break-neck speed as it comes to its intense climax as the killer goes for Karl’s wife in the land of the living. Karl and Imke must destroy the highwayman before he can succeed.

The afterword describes the inspiration for this and other tales, stemming from old England and its rich history of folklore, and also the dark history surrounding its gallows and the many men and women lost there. It includes a verse about highwaymen and names a few of them who danced the “Tyburn Jig” which adds a really cool sense of connection between this fictional tale and something that was real. It may leave the reader eerily wondering how many of those criminals might have slipped into a foggy world beyond here, in that land between midnight.

Craig Saunders has penned more than thirty novels and novellas, spanning many genres. This is a DarkFuse book so their quality speaks for themselves and Highwayman is no exception, it’s somber and chilling yet writhing with an imaginative energy that makes it very hard to put down.

                                                                                                                                            MICHELLE GARZA

Publisher: Darkfuse
Ebook: (218pps)
Release Date: 28 February 2017

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