Horror Book Review: Records of the Hightower Massacre (Maeva Wunn/L. Andrew Cooper)

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there aren’t enough LGBTQ+ horror novels out there, so when Records of the Hightower Massacre came my way, I jumped at the chance to read it and review it.

A novella from co-authors L. Andrew Cooper and Maeva Wunn, Records of the Hightower Massacre is a thrilling read that will keep you on the edge of your seat right up to the very last word. A story with depressing real-world comparisons, a story that often feels far too real, and a story that delivers on its promise of horror.

It is told from two perspectives. The characters of Ash, a black, non-binary, asexual person, and Aubrey, a white, trans, gay man. They both live in the AMCONS City, a dystopian, post-American territory run by a fascistic military. Where being ‘different’ is frowned upon, to the extent it can affect your standing in life, including your ability to get a job. Something that is necessary to survive in this world.

So… what is ‘different’ in this depressing dystopia? Anyone who isn’t cisgender. Anyone who doesn’t have heterosexual identities. Anyone who doesn’t strive for the nuclear family way of life.

Starting to feel all too real, right?

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Ash and Aubrey are strangers who meet at a job fair. Where they both suffer rejection after rejection based entirely on their identities. In a sea of conformity, they stand out like a bright beacon and are naturally drawn to each other. Though, they also get the attention of a recruiter who thinks he can help them get the jobs they need.

All they need to do is sign up, and seeing as though they have little choice, they do. So, what have they signed up for? A program run by HC3, the Hightower Course Correction Center. One that aims to make them, and many other recruits, ‘normal’, by any means necessary.

Records of the Hightower Massacre is a difficult read. Not because it’s poorly written, but rather, because it takes the intangible and makes it tangible. Today, as I write this, the lives of ethnic minorities, gay people, trans people, gender-fluid, and non-binary people, continues to be made extremely difficult. For every step forward humanity seems to take here, two backward steps are taken shortly afterwards.

I can’t relate, I am after all a white heterosexual male who has never experienced any kind of actual discrimination. However, I try to understand and reading a story like this, while looking around at the world I see, it all felt too real. Which made for a very emotional experience, especially as the characters are likeable.

With the story being written from their perspectives, it means we really get to spend time with them and see how they deal with the situation they find themselves in. Their different takes on some of the darker events, to some of the more egregious moments of horror, to being forced to be something they are not, is compelling stuff. Both L. Andrew Cooper and Maeva Wunn have different approaches, but have clearly worked hard to keep the tone consistent. It means the story flows, and never feels like the work of two different writers.

I was hooked from the very start, and tense all the way through, even as things get more and more horrifying, no relief could be found. It constantly felt like I was waiting for the next bad thing to happen when all I wanted was for the characters to be left to live their lives as they see fit. I can’t think of any higher praise then to say I literally couldn’t put this down, and consumed it with a few hours of getting it. Read this book.




  • Carl Fisher

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Records of the Hightower Massacre (Maeva Wunn/L. Andrew Cooper)
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