Reviews of Dark Fiction

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

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!

Summer Sons Book Cover Summer Sons
Lee Mandelo
Dark Fiction, Horror, LGBTQ, Southern Gothic, Mystery
Tordotcom, Macmillan Audio
09/28/2021
Audio, Paperback
376
NetGalley

Lee Mandelo's debut Summer Sons is a sweltering, queer Southern Gothic that crosses Appalachian street racing with academic intrigue, all haunted by a hungry ghost.

Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six months later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom that hungers for him.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble.

And there is something awful lurking, waiting for those walls to fall.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

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