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?
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.
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
Have you read The Summer that Melted Everything? What are your thoughts on the debut? Also, how gorgeous is that cover?
Show some Love!
Share this post[easy-social-share buttons=”facebook,twitter,google,pinterest” style=”icon” template=”grey-circles-retina” twitter_user=”thebooksatchel”]
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.