Bouncing back and forth between the audio and the paperback, SUMMER SONS had me captivated from nearly the first page. Mark my words, Lee Mandelo is an author to watch!
Andrew is buckling under the loss of his friend’s suicide, but Eddie was more than just a friend. Surviving a traumatic event together has bonded these two and not just emotionally. Their experience has attached something to them…something not of this world. As Andrew comes to Nashville to attend graduate school, where Eddie went and to move into a house where Eddie lived, Andrew is determined to solve the mystery of Eddie’s death. Eddie would never commit suicide, and Andrew knows it. As he slips into Eddie’s old life, attends Eddie’s classes, drives Eddie’s car, something is hanging over Andrew, something hungry. Will Andrew solve the mystery? Who killed Eddie? How and why? Will Andrew survive his demons and discover the truth? You’ll have to read this to find out!
SUMMER SONS had some characters I really hated. I hated almost all of them at first, to be honest. Andrew’s grief spoke to me though and he slowly won me over. His girlfriend-soon to be ex got on my nerves too, but then later on, my feelings for her changed as well. Andrew himself, perhaps confused about his feelings, perhaps confused about his sexuality, is so human, with all of the confusion, doubt and wonder that being human encompasses. All of the characters in this book are on the move, morphing from this to that, it was a wonder to behold.
The intensity of this story cannot be overestimated. I felt like, when I was reading AND listening, that there was a dark pall hanging over…well, nearly everyone. The atmosphere I felt was almost suffocating, it was so dense. As the staff at the university became more and more petty, my thoughts about them were constantly in flux, leaving me floating out there by the finest of threads- trying to figure out what was happening.
Introduce into all of the above, a nasty little family curse/secret-one of those that goes on for generation after generation. (This portion put me in mind of The Witching Hour by Anne Rice. She knew all about those generational family secrets, just ask Lasher.) I can honestly say that I enjoyed this book much more than that one, and I liked that book a LOT.
Finally, there was some racing here…automobile racing. It’s not a large portion of the book, but it’s there. I would have preferred if all the cars were American, but otherwise, I was okay with it. We are talking about the American south, and racing is a part of life there. Not sure there are many Subarus but it was a way for the characters to bond, so… necessary to the story.
A quick note about the narrator, Will Damron. What an excellent narrator he is! Voicing what turned into a super dark story, he was up to the challenge, helping to create that suffocating atmosphere with his mastery of the narrative. Color me impressed!
Lee Mandelo has really knocked my socks off here. For a debut novel, I could not be more pleased. SUMMER SONS gets all the stars!
Thanks to Macmillan for the audio and Tordotcom for the paper ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!