The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

BLOG“The heat came with the devil.  It was the summer of 1984, and while the devil had been invited, the heat was not.  It should’ve been expected, though. Heat is, after all, the devil’s name, and when’s the last time you left home without yours?”

Fielding Bliss recounts the summer of 1984, the summer of a scorching heatwave and the year the devil came to the town of Breathed, Ohio.  It is Fielding’s father, Autopsy Bliss who puts forth the invitation in a newspaper for the devil to visit.

“If the devil was going to come, I expected to see the myth of him.  A demon with an asphalt shine.  He’d be fury.  A chill.  A bad cough. Cujo at the car window, a ticket at the Creepshow booth, a leap into the depth of night.”

The response is unexpected and comes in the form of a 13-year-old boy who appears out of nowhere, calling himself Sal (“from the beginning of Satan and the first step into Lucifer. Sa-L.”) and claiming to be the devil.  The boy is taken in by Fielding’s family, however as people discover just who Sal claims to be and disastrous occurrences start to take place, the tensions among the townspeople rise along with the heat.  The events of the summer of 1984 are ones that will have a longstanding impact on the town of Breathed and young Fielding Bliss.

“A foolish mistake, it is, to expect the beast, because sometimes, sometimes, it is the flower’s turn to own the name.”

The Summer That Melted Everything is a captivating novel with a brilliantly carried out premise and concept.  Through writing that is beautiful, poetic, and haunting, the author presents a story full of depth, nuance and unforgettable characters.  It is moving, heartbreaking, and incredibly compelling while tackling many important issues, such as racism, homophobia, and abuse.  Throughout, I found myself marking and re-reading numerous passages and sentences as each emotion and state of being is portrayed in a truly awe-inspiring way.  It is a novel that makes you feel and makes you pause, and one that will stick with me for some time to come.

*ARC provided by author through NetGalley for an unbiased review.  Publication date: July 26, 2016.

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