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The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel – When the Devil Pays a Vist

5th September, 2016

A prosecutor invites the devil to his town. The whole town is surprised when a 13 year old black boy named Sal turns up. The boy brings with him a scorching heat and unexplainable occurrences. Is he actually the devil?

In Brief :

Autopsy Bliss is a prosecutor who believes in impartial justice and lives in Breathed, a town in Ohio. His wife is scared of stepping outdoors and terrified of rain. They live in a house with their two sons in which each room is decorated in the likeness of various countries that she fancies..

When prosecutor Autopsy Bliss puts an advertisement in the newspaper inviting the devil to visit their town, on an impulse,  everyone laughs. Until one day a black boy in overalls, without horns or a pitch fork, comes to town proclaiming himself as the devil. He has a bowl and a spoon in hand and asks for ice cream. But the whole town doesn’t seem to have any.

He is invited to stay at the Bliss house and becomes fast friends with the youngest son Fielding. The Bliss family doesn’t believe he is the devil. But the boy seems to know the darkest secrets of the townsfolk. The townspeople find a leader in Elohim who is convinced about the evil in the boy ever since he set his eyes on him. Bizarre events happen around the town and the temperature shoots to an unbelievably high level when the devil decides to stay. What all does this summer melt?

Book Review : The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

What I Liked :

I enjoyed reading the novel. Here are some specific things I liked in it :

1. The Writing :

The writing is beautiful. The first few chapters sucked me into the story and I couldn’t wait to find out how the mystery of the devil would unfold. It was interesting to read the devil’s take on pressing questions in the human mind about God, life after death etc. The descriptions and similes are well thought of and add substance to the novel. The style of writing is deeply reminiscent of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson Mc Cullers and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

2. 1984 :

1984 by Orwell is one of my favourite dystopian novels. This book talks of the summer of 1984 that haunts the narrator, Fielding, even when he is an adult. I liked the way the book puts 1984 as the year of change or enlightenment, much like the Orwell novel, intentionally or unintentionally. It adds to the rhythm of the story.

3. Themes :

The pace of the story undergoes a significant change once the reader gets accustomed to Sal well enough not to view him with judgemental eyes. Then comes a barrage of issues of racism, homophobia, AIDS, loss of innocence, redemption of the human soul and abuse, all of which were prominent topics in the 1980s.

Book Review : The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

What I disliked :

Perhaps the novel was too ambitious in its choice of themes. The beginning chapters make the reader extremely curious about the supernatural. Then slowly, themes of human resentment, creep in. The writing was not crowded; it was wonderfully executed as well. However I still think concentrating on fewer themes would have had more impact. There were places I felt the writer is trying to address all the relevant minority issues in one small novel.

Final Verdict :

I found The Summer that Melted Everything to be a book that really holds your attention when you are reading it, but doesn’t gnaw you to pick it up again when you have put it down after a few chapters. However, the reading experience was a good one and the last chapters were brilliantly written as well. I definitely think Tiffany Mc Daniel has a lot of potential as a writer.

Disclaimer : Many thanks to Tiffany Mc Daniel and St. Martins Press (Pan Macmillan) for sending over a review copy. All opinions are my own. 

Title : The Summer that Melted Everything
Author : Tiffany Mc Daniel
Publisher : St. Martins Press
Published : 2016
Language : English
Pages : 320
Rating : 4/5

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Have you read The Summer that Melted Everything? What are your thoughts on the debut? Also, how gorgeous is that cover?

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The Summer that Melted Everything

About the Author

Tiffany McDaniel is an Ohio native whose writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel.

This Post Has 26 Comments
  1. The cover is gorgeous and the premise sounds really intriguing. But I reckon I’d get fed up with all those themes – I don’t really like being hit with too many “messages” when I’m reading. But she certainly sounds like an author to watch for the future – thanks for highlighting the book!

  2. I have seen this book everywhere. I passed on the review copy because I was contacted during a month I wasn’t accepting reviews at all, but it seems I missed out. I love the sound of this one and may eventually have to pick it up anyway. Also, the book is gorgeous and would look wonderful in my home library.
    I like that the book is around 300 pages, but it seems that it was trying to do too much. Homegoing was similarly small, but it didn’t focus on too many themes, but instead on one flowing narrative and the legacy of slavery, so it felt like it was wrapped up rather nicely by the end.

    1. I agree. The cover is gorgeous. Let me warn you the 300 pages will take you sometime to get through as the size of the book is bigger than a normal paperback. I did like the read. So if you ever pick it up I will look forward to your thoughts.

      Homegoing is still on my TBR. Did you read The Underground Railroad by Whitehead? It has been getting amazing reviews as well.

  3. I haven’t read this one yet, but keeping reading good thing about it. Reading your comparison of the writing to that of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ has definitely piqued my interest too since that’s one of my all-time favorite books 🙂

  4. I enjoyed it as well, but agreed that when you weren’t reading it, you didn’t feel a huge pull to pick it up. I definitely think she has loads of potential as an author and am excited to see what she comes up with next!

  5. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I also felt that pull towards the supernatural in the beginning and did not expect the dive into social identity issues. I enjoyed the novel, but found I was tired after finishing the book.

  6. The premise of this so interesting and I wonder about how all the political and social issues would weave in. But that does seem like a lot of issues to pull into one book, but I would still want to check it out. Thanks for the review!

  7. Hmm…I gotta agree with you that she probably took on too many themes for this novel. Grand’s story really stood out to me and was very impactful but though Sal has a gruesome end, it didn’t hit me as hard as Grand’s.

  8. I have read this novel and since then have been curious about learning more about what your thoughts were on the book. It seems like you enjoyed it almost as much as I did, but that you think it may have been more effective if its focus was a little more narrowed down. An interesting theory I hadn’t considered before!

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