Title: Summer Sons
Author: Lee Mandelo
Release Date: September 28, 2021
“Are you losing control, my good pal? The clock is ticking and you can’t put him off for much longer. If you can’t hunt down this stuff in time you’re going to drag him into it, and if he responds to the source the same way you are, it’s going to be a disaster….”
Summer Sons is a dark and melodic fever dream of grief, longing, and desire. The story draws you in with the gothic, haunting atmosphere and pulls you along Andrew’s uncertain path and he navigates the confusion and loss surrounding his best friend Eddie’s recent death and the questions he has about it.
If you are looking for a story with atmosphere to read this autumn, look no further. There’s a southern gothic vibe with painful family legacies and dark deeds and curses. With the Vanderbilt setting, there are hints of academia vibes as well (but I wouldn’t call this dark academia by any means as the college setting isn’t used enough for me to classify it) that converge with the small town and changing season to add both nostalgia and a sense of discovery – especially as Andrew begins searching through Eddie’s research for answers about his death.
Andrew is a character who feels trapped – too caught up in the power of Eddie’s memory and their relationship to focus on himself at all. Which is complicated by his ability to interact with haunts (or ghosts) and the negative impact they have on him. On his journey for answers, he is folded into Eddie’s former life – Riley, Eddie’s roommate, his cousin, Sam Halse, and others all intersect Andrew’s life in complex and organic ways. The character interactions are all layered, nuanced, and clouded in uncertainty that keeps you engaged.
While I guess there is technically a mystery at the core of this story, it didn’t read like a mystery to me. Summer Sons at it’s core felt like an exploration of self and grief while confronting the loss of someone unimaginably important to you. The plot does meander at times, and the pacing is slow (mimicking the drawl of many of the characters) but you feel everything along with Andrew making this a thoroughly immersive and at times horrifying story.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review