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Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984the year a heatwave scorched the small town of Breathed OhioThe year he became friends with the devilWhen local prosecutor Autopsy Bliss publishes an invitation to the devil to come to the country town of Breathed Ohio nobody uite expected that he would turn up They especially didn't expect him to turn up a tattered and bruised thirteen year old boyFielding the son of Autopsy finds the boy outside the courthouse and brings him home and he is welcomed into the Bliss family The Blisses believe the boy who calls himself Sal is a runaway from a nearby farm town Then as a series of strange incidents implicate Sal — and riled by the feverish heatwave baking the town from the inside out — there are some around town who start to believe that maybe Sal is exactly who he claims to beBut whether he's a traumatised child or the devil incarnate Sal is certainly one strange fruit he talks in riddles his uncanny knowledge and understanding reaches far outside the realm of a normal child — and ultimately his eerily affecting stories of Heaven Hell and earth will mesmerise and enflame the entire townDevastatingly beautiful The Summer That Melted Everything is a captivating story about community redemption and the dark places where evil really lies


10 thoughts on “The Summer That Melted Everything

  1. says:

    I am a mess I mean an emotional wreck I have a migraine from crying This is the best book that I have come across since A Little Life If I could give it 10 Stars I would 11? I cannot believe that this is a debut novelI'm not going to give a plot summery I think this book transcends it's plot I want to share my feelings This book moved me in a way I haven't been moved in so long I listened to the audio version For an audio to be this good it takes one heck of a narrator Mark Bramhall told this story with such feeling I can't even begin to describe how this book consumed me for the past few daysI do want to share Larry Hoffer's review with you Please read it It gives a thorough synopsis of the book and it is the reason I purchased this audio Here it ishttpswwwgoodreadscomreviewshowI don't understand why this is not on people's radar? It needs to be read Forget the Devil accepting an invitation to come to this town in Ohio This book is so much Tiffany McDaniel has one Hell of a career ahead of her No pun intended LolThis book made me think a lot about what is going on politically right now All the fear and hate How love can conuer fear Put it at the top of your to read list Note that there is the death of an animal in the book


  2. says:

    I think something deep in my soul has shifted after reading this book My gut is still churning after turning the final page 2 days ago and its been years since a book brought me to the brink of tears I read psychological thrillers and dark fiction than one human likely should yet none of that seemed as horrific as what I just read Don’t misunderstand this isn’t some bloodbath horror tale with cheesy specters of the devil and his minions The only apparition in this story is a 13 year old boy but back to that in a minute “The heat came with the devil It was the summer of 1984 and while the devil had been invited the heat was not It should’ve been expected though Heat is after all the devil’s name and when’s the last time you left home without yours?”Just like the blurb states the setting is summer of 1984 and the book describes what was going on in the media during this time I really loved all the small details she took the time to include; this seemed to put the level of writing over the top for me Autopsy Bliss yep his real name father to Fielding Bliss our narrator has placed an ad in the local paper inviting the devil to town The reasoning behind this is explained in the final pages of our story so you do get all kinds of closure but the story starts out making you scratch your head and wonder “where is this lady going to take us with this?” Yes then a 13 year old black boy with green eyes shows up holding said ad claiming to be the devil but this book is not what you’re thinking it is I admit I saw my friend Shelby’s review and my curiosity was piued but I was already overloaded with NetGalley books so I figured I’d catch it some time after publication Thankfully the author contacted me and convinced me to read it now Fact Chelsea never re reads books Fact Chelsea is going to have to re read this book sometime in the future “You can tell a lot about a man by what he does with a snakeA snake that could harm you you don’t have much choice to kill You wouldn’t be able to leave a cobra in your sock drawer But a snake that is no threat will greatly define the man who decides to kill it anyways”The characters are what really sold me on this story Each one was deep flawed and broken in their own ways yet still lovable as I felt attached to each member of the Bliss family including Sal We get to see snippets of Fielding’s life as he ages from memories he shares with us as a man in his 80’s We know early on that something major will happen at the end of the summer of ’84 and the tension grows in a slow yet powerful way Each chapter brought new revelations on the character’s personal struggles as well as the impending doom that lingers over the entire town of Breathed This story was crafted with so many real issues that were relevant then and are still relevant now mob mentality racism homophobia and the ever failing criminal justice system The ending was nothing short of disturbing mainly because it is so easily pictured and believable I was completely shocked with all aspects of the ending; I did not see one thing coming with how this story concluded and it made me feel this weird cross between horrified and satisfied I don’t want to put any spoilers in here but I felt I had grown close to this family and was broken with them every step of the way This is a must read that is deep compelling and timely for what is consuming our state of current affairs My heart broke and wept openly as a reader as a mother and simply as a human being PLEASE read this book; it will certainly be a pick in my round up for TOP 10 books I’ve read this yearMany thanks to author Tiffany McDaniel and St Martin’s Press for providing my copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and fair review Please stay tuned as I’ll be posting an interview with the author and a giveaway for a signed copy of The Summer That Melted Everything near pub day


  3. says:

    ”It was a heat that didn’t just melt tangible things like ice chocolate Popsicles It melted all the intangibles too Fear faith anger and those long trusted templates of common sense It melted lives as well leaving futures to be slung with the dirt of the gravedigger’s shovel” Slipping Away by Tiffany McDaniel If you preorder the book you can sign up here Tiffany McDaniel's Preorder Contest to win some cool stuff including a signed print of this watercolor The heat wave that hit Breathed Ohio in 1984 was no ordinary hot spell It was oppressive and inescapable It was as if the cellar door to hell had been laid open beneath their feet Sweat dripped from their pores like the tears of the damned Tempers flared under the constant ruthless lash of unbearable high temperatures Reason floated away into the atmosphere and was replaced by superstition and irrationalityAnd it was all Autopsy Bliss’s faultHe did write the letter after all ”Dear Mr Devil Sir Satan Lord Lucifer and all other crosses you bearI cordially invite you to Breathed Ohio Land of hills and hay bales of sinners and forgiversMay you come in peace With great faith Autopsy Bliss”The Devil acceptedNow Autopsy Bliss is an educated man a lawyer in fact but he got bit by the fire and brimstone of religion When he issued this letter to the newspaper did he really expect the Devil to appear before him? Did he think he could wrestle Lucifer or spar with Satan and The Cross would assure him a fair fight? I don’t think that Autopsy Bliss expected a creature with cloven hooves forked tail and horns to appear on his doorstep Lucifer is a fallen angel not a demon and certainly not the creature of fairytale or the fiendish incarnation he has been depicted in films or the lurid spectacle he has become on the covers of pulp novels It turns out he is a thirteen year old black boy with green eyes He was in fact the same age as Fielding Bliss He calls himself Sal ”If looks were to be believed he still was just a boy Something of my age though from his solemn uietude I knew he was old in the soul A boy whose black crayon would be the shortest in his box”Autopsy might have had a realistic vision of Satan in his mind than the cartoon version but it still took some mental gymnastics to even begin to believe that Sal was the Devil The heat has eroded minds Logic is a bonfire Familiar perceptions are a blaze When things start to go wrong for people they start to believe that the implausible is suddenly the only possible explanation Fielding’s mother Stella hasn’t left the house in twelve years When she withdrew from the world she decided to bring the world to her by turning each room of her house into a different country Grand is Fielding’s older brother a young man on the cusp of the rest of his life He is a God of the ballfield but also a man of character and sensitivity that makes him so much than just the sum of his parts Fielding worships him as he should Grand is someone we can all aspire to be like He is a worthy sacrifice ”A summer’s day and with the setting sunDropt from the zenith like a falling star” Milton Paradise LostIt is one thing to never find paradise but of course it is uite another thing to have found it and lost it For a family named Bliss they have watched the gates of Eden shimmer behind them and disappearSal becomes the third son I think what the people of Breathed forgot about was that the concept of the Devil is manifested in all of us You might not see him when you look in the mirror dead on but turn your head to the side and look out of the corner of your eye and you might catch a glimpse of him He is reflected in your fingernails when the light is just right Sometimes if you close your eyes down to slits you can see him in the swirls of your pancake He stares at us from the darkness from the bowel of a tree or through the eyes of an owl You can’t kill him You can’t kill the light that has fallen to darkness Why would God let you? ”People always ask Why does God allow suffering? Why does He allow a child to be beaten? A woman to cry? A holocaust to happen? A good dog to die painfully? Simple truth is He wants to see for Himself what we’ll do He’s stood up the candle put the devil at the wick and now He wants to see if we blow it out or let it burn down God is suffering’s biggest spectator”The town begins to suffer from mass insanity Call it the heat but there is this dark desire in too many of us that rises to the surface unchecked when we are challengedTiffany McDaniel might be a young writer but this is no raw first novel She is wise with bone deep perceptions of who we are and who we become when we allow hysteria or religious fervor to dictate our actions She writes with conviction and complexity that forced this reader to reread sentences and paragraphs to better appreciate the uniuely creative ways she composes her thoughts The setting is in the North but some of the Southern Gothic of the deep South leaped over the Mason Dixon line into Ohio I also could swear I witnessed the ghost of Douglas Spaulding running through the woods with Fielding Bliss and saw the flash of his bare feet as he dived back into the pages of Dandelion Wine I thought I saw Shirley Jackson lost in the loose limbs of the mobher eyes as big as dinner plates and her mouth opened in a ”That was when the screaming started They were screaming cheers we were screaming tears and Sal was screaming fear A rhyme of the ages”Who among us can stop them? Who can wiggle a screwdriver between the door and the jam and let the cooling balm of reason flood the hallways of a fevered mind? The author and NetGalley provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review Tiffany McDaniel was gracious enough to agree to answer a few of my uestions about the novel Below is a short interview I conducted with her Tiffany McDaniel Jeffrey KeetenAs I was reading your book I couldn't help thinking about Dandelion Wine Have I been out in the heat too long or am I right about this book being somewhat of a homage to the Ray Bradbury book?Tiffany McDanielI love Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine so I’m beyond thrilled that you’ve brought it up I always say I want to be buried with the novel have it in the clutches of my ghost to carry forth in to the great beyond Having read it many times I’ve always wanted to write a story about boys coming of age in the summertime Those two events seem to parallel one another as if summer exists in childhood itself On the surface Dandelion Wine is about boys coming of age but what Bradbury does so well is threading that melancholic undertone through his verse his own bittersweet brand that makes his stories and his story telling the mark of a true master Life and death happiness and sadness these are the things that permeate both Bradbury’s novel and my own No one can ever surpass Bradbury’s beautiful writing and story but perhaps my story is a way of recognizing the beautiful force that has been Dandelion Wine in my life Jeffrey KeetenParadise Lost obviously had a heavy influence on the writing of this book You certainly have left me thinking I need to schedule a reread of PL You also mentioned Orwell's 1984 in the book In thinking about the scope of this book what other books would you say had a heavy influence in the creation of this book?Tiffany McDanielI first read Milton’s epic poem when I was in my early twenties I was immediately drawn to it because it’s about that which has always fascinated me The fall from grace The very thing that is said to have cast all the curses upon us as human beings and put the sins within reach I always title my chapters in my novels and when I was thinking of the chapter titles for The Summer that Melted Everything “Paradise Lost” immediately came to mind How could it not be the perfect partner for this summer? Though I do hope I have made Milton proud by including his beautiful uotes uotes which do outshine my own words by a billion sparkling miles As far as Orwell’s 1984 it’s one of those reuired readings that most everybody has in school I was so fascinated by it if only because the year 1984 has passed already but also because it was a novel predicting a certain state of affairs where citizens are manipulated and all independent thought is a crime It’s hard to talk about 1984 the novel and its reason for being in The Summer that Melted Everything without giving any spoilers away but I’ll just say that both Orwell’s novel and my novel speak of that herd mentality How easy it is to come about and how threatening it is to individual choiceAs far as other influencers on The Summer that Melted Everything I can’t think of another book in particular but reading in general just adds layer after layer to one’s soul And with a book like The Summer that Melted Everything where we’re looking at the balance between good and evil well those are things we see every day on the nightly news Look no further than our daily life and we are surrounded by the fuel to write about chaos and peace good and bad If anything the book of life itself is the spinning wheel to a story like this JeffreyThe book is set in Ohio but it has such a Southern Gothic feeling to it that I kept thinking the geography could have easily been set in the Deep South such as Donna Tartt's home state of Mississippi or Flannery O'Connor's Georgia or Harper Lee's Alabama You must have encountered some of that Gothic magical realism in Ohio?Tiffany Breathed Ohio the fictional town in the novel is based on my childhood summers and school year weekends spent in southern Ohio on the hilly acreage and in the cinderblock house my father was left to him by his parents Southern Ohio while in a northern state does very much have that southern United State twang to it “Ain’t” is as abundant as the wildflowers in the fields and bullfrogs are the music of the night It’s a very front porch type of place It’s a place that has shaped me as an author I’ve said before cut me open and there will be a release of fireflies and moon shine In many ways southern Ohio was a magical place to me because it was so different from the northern part of Ohio where I lived and went to school That southern portion the foothills of the Appalachians is a part of Ohio that has its own magical myths I was told the hills were full of tigers released there by a zoo gone belly up I would stand on the creek edge and see a gar go swimming by thinking it was an alligator Added to this I’ve always had a gothic mind Wishing I could live in a derelict mansion with velvet curtains and Shirley Jackson spires Wolves howling spiders webbing magic churning night after night Jeffrey Autopsy Bliss goes on my list of greatest character names in literary history As I was reading the book I started jotting down the character names because I was struck by the unusual nature of most of the names Do you start with a name or do they sometimes remain nebulous personalities in search of the right name for a while as you write? Tiffany First off thank you for the incredibly wonderful compliment of Autopsy’s name I’m sure Autopsy himself would be uite pleased When I start writing the characters I do have to have their name from the beginning Having their name really helps to create and flush out the character I can’t write them without a name It’s like walking in dark woods by myself calling for the characters to come out from the trees But if I don’t have a name to call who is there to come out?Jeffrey I jotted down this uestion while I was still in the early stages of reading the book Would you want to live with the Bliss Family? They are ethereally wonderful but of course the tragedies that find them as the plot unfolds probably answers that uestion This is truly a book about bad things happening to good people Are they still walking around in your head or have you managed to lock them in a back room of your mind so you can move onto your next novel? Tiffany To answer your first uestion I would want to live with the Bliss family if only because I love them all so much Even with the tragedies that reshape them as a family I would live with them Be their daughter their sister their best friend the one crying with them laughing with them As the author I’ve already done all these things I’ve already felt like I’ve lived in the house with them What is home if not with the people we love? I will always share a life with the Bliss Family as I do my real family To me there is no difference because while fictional the Bliss family exists for me I always say my characters feel real to me Maybe I won’t get to physically interact with them in this world but I feel as if in another plane of the universe or even the afterlife I’ll be able to speak to them to recognize them as people who have lived full lives from womb to coffin I always say my characters do not begin with the first page I’ve written They do not end with the last They existed before and they exist after the book There are moments and experiences they have that none of will ever know as author and reader In every way they are as fully human as any of us And they are always with me Even when I write another novel They are there They just politely sit down so new characters can stand up Jeffrey Speaking of next novel where does Tiffany McDaniel go from here?Tiffany I have eight completed novels I’m working on my ninth right now I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty nine I spent eleven years struggling to get published Rejection after rejection made me fear I never would be published So much heart ache and pain on the journey to publication I can’t believe I’m about to be a published novelist Publishing does move at a snail’s pace and even with the contract I’ve waited two years for the book to move through the publishing house to the shelf I’m thirty one now having waited in total thirteen years to see one of my novels on the shelf So where I go from here is to just keep writing Hoping The Summer that Melted Everything does well enough for me to have the other books published as well The novel I’m hoping to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with is When Lions Stood as Men It’s about a Jewish brother and sister who escape Nazi Germany flee across the Atlantic and end up in my land of Ohio of all places While here they create their own camp of judgment where they serve as both the guards and the prisoners It’s a story of surviving the guilt that threatens to undo us all More so it’s about surviving love and the time when lions once stood as men Book TrailerTiffany McDaniel's WebsiteIf you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at


  4. says:

    I really really loved this book I know people didn't like the metaphorical writing but I always have been a sucker for poetic writing I like when books make me uestion the way I think about things and I enjoy symbolism and when things are woven so intricately with the plot line Like the story is just so well woven and elegant and the author just expressed things so elouently It all just fit together so perfectly and I really felt affected when reading the book Definitely a favorite


  5. says:

    after seeing the news on mel's review figured i would help spread the word too because this book could definitely use an award if you agree vote for it here ”That’s the ending of the story” he said “Something broken”this is a darkly satisfying southern gothic tale of what transpired when a lawyer named autopsy bliss invited the devil to the small town of breathed ohio in 1984the problem with extending an invitation to the devil is that he might just accept and he might not turn out to be the worst thing living in your towni’d heard nothing but great things about this book here on goodreads and i’d been wanting to read it for ages but had been TRYING not to buy hardcovers because i am oh so poor so when i was offered a copy by the author it was like all the book angels answering my book prayersas it turned out the delay was a blessing and the timing could not have been better nothing beats finishing a book taking place during a horrible heat wave on the day a blizzard hits and i loved every sweaty bit of thisthe story itself is fantastic but the getting there might not be for all readers much like one of my favorite books The Book of Night Women in order to appreciate this story to its fullest you have to completely give yourself over to it with night women it’s a dialect thing you cannot as a reader balk at the unfamiliar slang or cadence or you will struggle with this one it’s stylistic you have to embrace the florid rollicking prose that is the vehicle for her storytelling and just go with it or it’ll uicksand you the character names are bananas in a good way and the writing is overblown and turgid as hell in a mostly good way her style is completely her own and like many debuts her prose occasionally gets away from her but when it succeeds and it succeeds often than not it is the perfect way to tell this tale; its words swelling and running rampant in the humidity; the ribbons in a woman's hair indulgently described The way they wove they could sometimes look like slithering in an undergrowth It was as if she were the infected Eden the snake still turning through Eve the less successful flipside to this indulgence are the few instances written for the reader's benefit than what would be natural for the characters for example”How do you say this place?” he asked“Whatcha mean?”“I mean the name of the town How do you say it?”“Oh well most folks think it’s pronounced like the past tense of breathin’ You know like you just breathed somethin’ in But it’s not like that at all Say breath and then ed Breath ed Say it so the tongue don’t recognize such a large break between Breath and ed Breathed”is that how a thirteen year old boy would answer a simple freaking uestion? probably not but you’re in this world with these characters and my advice to you is to go with itbecause it’s worth it for all the beautifully written parts like this ”the thing about breaking something that no one much thinks about is that shadows are created The bowl when intact was one shadow One single shadow Now each piece will have a shadow of its own My God so many shadows have been made Small little slivers of darkness that seem at once to be larger than the bowl ever was That’s the problem of broken things The light dies in small ways and the shadows well they always win big in the end”each chapter opens with a fragment of milton’s Paradise Lost the original apologist for the devil and the devil who ultimately answers autopsy’s invitation comes in the shape of a thirteen year old green eyed black boy named sal who befriends autopsy’s son fielding and is one of the most sympathetic characters in this town of breathed that’s 'breath ed' folksif the the problem with extending an invitation to the devil is that he might just accept the problem with a sympathetic devil is one of accountability if the devil is a likable little boy he becomes less useful as a scapegoat for that brand of “the devil made me do it” washing off of personal responsibility and the evils of the world are revealed to be either directly due to human failings or unfortunate accidents that often result from these failings fear prejudice misunderstandings pain revengenot that everyone will see it that way the scapegoat is a very tempting place to lay the blame and no one wants to confront the uncomfortable realization that evil was already simmering in the town before the devil showed up and there's evil aplenty from relatively small transgressions like infidelity to much much bigger onesit’s a dark book told in a beautiful way split between the events of that summer and the adult life of fielding bliss in the years following the 1984 parts are wonderful sad and chewy and wrapped up admirably the reveal of the significance of sal’s birthday gift to fielding’s mother stella is a heartbreaker and the ice cream reveal even so and granny dear lord granny there’s less resolution to the adult fielding’s story which was a little disappointing but the uote i opened the review with kinda sums it all up ”That’s the ending of the story” he said “Something broken”a fantastic debut and i want come to my blog


  6. says:

    I thought this was a young adult book when I reuested it from Netgalley Umm it's not Not that I have a problem with that I love some dark 'stick your head in the oven' booksDark is good sometimes This one though took me awhile to read because I had to put it aside several times because dang I will say that 1984 was a year that understood how to make history Apple launched it's Macintosh computer for the masses two astronauts walked the stars like gods and singer Marvin Gaye who sang about how sweet it was to be loved was shot through the heart and killed by his fatherFielding Bliss's father invited the devil to town Fielding is thirteen at the time and his attorney father Autopsy yes that is his name is down after a case he was trying turned out to be something totally different than what he thought it was Dear Mr Devil Sir Satan Lord Lucifer and all other crosses you bearI cordially invited you to Breathed Ohio Land of hills and hay bales of sinners and forgiversMay you come in peaceWith great faithAutopsy BlissThe thing is? The devil does come to town Along with the heat A thirteen year old black child with the oddest green eyes shows up in answer to Autopsy's letter Claiming to be the devil himself The sheriff thinks he is just a missing boy and starts trying to find out where he is from but can't find any family looking for him Sal is completely not what Fielding nor his father were picturing when they thought of as the devilIf the devil was going to come I expected to see the myth of him A demon with an asphalt shine He'd be fury A chill A bad cough Cujo at the car window a ticket at the Creepshow booth a leap into the depth of nightWho knew how much a thirteen year old boy could change a town in the course of a summer? Sal is taken in by Fielding's family and becomes like a son to the family The boys become pests to their older brother Grand and best buddies to each other But you have the town Who is stifling under the heat and hatred is burning Sal's wisdom is much older than his age and it seems like trouble follows him no matter what he doesYou can tell a lot about a man by what he does with a snake A snake that could harm you you don't have much choice to kill You wouldn't be able to leave a cobra in your sock drawer But a snake that is no threat will greatly define the man who decides to kill it anyways This book is so well written You can tell that I liked it by the number of uotes I stole and put on here Be in the mood to read it though because it gets in your head and then you start thinking and stuff and it hurts my head to think about stuff You can imagine anything you want in the dark You can imagine your father loves you you can imagine your mother is not disappointed you can imagine that you aresignificant That you mean somethin' to someone That's all I ever wanted Fielding To matter That is all I've ever wanted Booksource Netgalley in exchange for review None of my friends have read this book yetthey should I have no clue what you guys are waiting on So I'm picking a this review because it's awesome I fibbed My friend Laura read it


  7. says:

    During a heat wave in the summer of 1984 Fielding Bliss's father invites the devil to town When a 13 year old boy shows up claiming to be the devil the Ohio town of Breathed will never be the same againI passed on this when I originally saw it on Netgalley mostly because of Autopsy Bliss's name Seriously? Autopsy? Anyway Tiffany McDaniel emailed me a review reuest mentioning how hard it was for first time authors to get reviews and I caved in after my Grinch like heart grew two sizesI honestly had no idea what to expect with this but I knew I'd struck gold right away I read a lot of books where the prose is nothing spectacular I could tell this one was special from the first paragraph or so The Summer That Melted Everything is Paradise Lost written by Flannery O'Connor a southern Gothic tale with the power of a hurricane It's a tale of families racism religion small town mob mentalities the evil that people hold in their hearts and a lot of other serious themesThe Summer That Melted Everything is Fielding Bliss' fall from grace from being an optimistic 13 year old to be a broken adult decades later The devil's arrival Sal's arrival turns his life upside townThe Bliss family and their relationship with Sal fuels the narrative Fielding Bliss and Sal are fast friends Sal devil or not is wise beyond his years Father Autopsy is a lawyer and mother Stella is a homemaker who is afraid to go outside Brother Grand is good at everything seemingly the boy every girl wants to be with Sal's arrival changes all of them irrevocablyThere is a lot of emotional packed into this book and it sure dredged up some emotions in me The part with the dog was just the tip of the emotional iceberg It's thought provoking and has some serious weight to it As I wrote earlier it reads a lot like Flannery O'Connor and I felt wrung out after reading itThe building hysteria of the townsfolk toward Sal reminds me of Needful Things a bit I had no idea how the book would end but I knew it would be comparable to the destruction of Castle Rock And it was The last 20% was like watching the end of Old Yeller four or five timesThe Summer that Melted Everything is a first novel that reads like a lost classic A bleak emotional classic Five out of Five stars Note You can read my interview with Tiffany McDaniel here


  8. says:

    “Don’tcha wanta live forever?”“I’m the devil I am already forever”Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984 the year a heat wave scorched Breathed Ohio The year his father Autopsy Bliss invited Breathed’s own devil “Dear Mr Devil Sir Satan Lord Lucifer and all other crosses you bearI cordially invite you to Breathed Ohio Land of hills and hay bales of sinners and forgiversMay you come in peaceWith great faithAutopsy Bliss”And on a particularly warm day in June 1984 side note I love it when a book is set in the same month period as when I’m reading it our main character meets the devil “Are you sayin’ that you’re the devil?”“It is not my first name but it is one of them” He reached down to scratch his thigh It was then I noticed the denim was worn at the knees than anywhere else Over top the wear were layers of dirt as if kneeling were all the time for him“You’re lyin’” I searched his head for horns “You’re just a boy”His fingers twitched “I was once if that counts”Sal seems to appear out of nowhere a bruised and tattered thirteen year old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitationTo say that this book has a uniue premise is an understatement It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read and I simply loved every second I spent reading The Summer That Melted EverythingI definitely took my time with this book in order to savor each and every word It all felt so crucial to the flow of the storyI also have to mention the writing but I feel like no words of mine will do enough justice to capture its beauty Tiffany McDaniel created such an atmospheric eerie and whimsical read— I’m seriously at a loss for wordsHere’s one instance in particular that captures the writing perfectly “I cleared my throat and introduced the boy by naming him the devil“Fielding I didn’t uite hear you correctly”“I said devil all right” I shifted the bag of groceries to my other arm as Elohim drew down the porch steps slow and at a slant like he was walking in a large gown that he had to be careful not to step on the edge of lest he fall”That last sentence has just such a wonderfully specific descriptionAlso I loved how clever it was that the neighbor’s name was Grayson Elohim 'Elohim' in HebrewAnd I really want to mention another instance I loved because I’m weak and the writer’s words are magnificent “The days they’ve been blurring together”“Just hang a calendar on your wall”“The walls of hell are not like other walls I tore a picture of the ocean out from a magazine and hung it on my wall once An ocean is a good life place Everyone always seems happy there And for a moment I was happy with my picture but then the blue sky turned gray The waves once calm took a turn to rage Then came the screams As I looked closer I saw the screams came from men drowning in the water”How does one make words work this beautifully???Also also the familial relationships in this book were spectacular I kept wanting to delve deeper and know about each family member— and it all started with the grandma whom I loved she was such a uniue addition “Autopsy is an acutely strange name for a man to have but his mother was an acutely strange woman Even she was an acutely strange religious woman who used the Bible as a stethoscope to hear the pulse of the devil in the world around herThe sounds could be anything The wind knocking over a tin can The clicking of rain on the windowpane The erratic heartbeat of a jogger passing by Sometimes the things we believe we hear are really just our own shifting needs Grandmother needed to hear the spook of the snake so she could better believe it actually existed”And her son Fielding’s father was just as compelling to read about “I always thought he had too demanding a job for someone like him We are all sensitive to a degree when it comes to the great terrible things in the world but he was torn apart by themSome cases affected him than others like the one with the little girl who was beaten to death by her addict parents He’d stare at those bloody crime photos over and over again long after he put the parents away Then one day he said he was going outHe drove a few miles outside of Breathed to a roadside bar and said the types of things you should never say to a biker gang He was in the hospital for six weeks When I asked him why he did it he used his one good hand to write I wanted to see for myself on a pad of paper because his mouth was wired shutHis jaw would heal as would his swollen eyes cracked ribs and broken kneecap The bruises would go on their way the blood would stop lifting to the surface and his arm would eventually come out of that cast But he’d still have the scar at his hairline where the beer bottle was broke He never tried to hide this scar He’d brush his thick brown hair back so there’d be no chance of not seeing it He did just this as he strolled between me and the boy”I keep thinking about this part The “I wanted to see for myself” gets me every timeI’ve never encountered such a dynamic father figure in a novel before this one To borrow Sal’s phrasing “Compared to him it’s as if all other men are homeless dogs that bed in the mud”And his uintessential wife Fielding’s mother Stella was that intriguing “If you wanta see her you’ll have to go to her Porch is the farthest she’ll come”“Why?”“She’s afraid of the rain”“It’s not raining”“Naw but it might start” “She had that tendency to be overaffectionate It was almost like a nervous tic It was the staying in the house that did it She thought if she loved you enough you’d never want to leave her and then the house wouldn’t seem so lonely as it could be to her at times when it was just her and the vacuum”And their oldest son Grand Fielding’s brother was the very meaning of his name “Something about his eyes made me think of Russia Perhaps because they were so large the largest country in the world of his face Then again knowing what I know now maybe it was because his eyes were so like matryoshka dolls hiding the real him within boxes of lacuered mystery You’d open one box and find another just the same No matter how many boxes you took away there was always one Because I told him his eyes were Russian he decided to learn the language and would at the most unexpected times drop Russian words in a saline accent Tolstoy would have praised for an Ohioan at least”I just love it when books feature close siblings and Fielding was as he mentioned as in love with his older brother as any young boy could beThe whole family gave off such an incredibly intimate feel and leaving me once again at a loss for wordsHowever when the focus shifted from the family and instead refocused on the devil and the mystery surrounding his crimes I felt a tiny bit let down I personally felt invested in the Bliss’ lives than in the conundrum that is the devil “Being the devil made him a target but it also meant he had a power he didn’t have when he was just a boy People looked at him listened to what he said Being the devil made him important Made him visible And isn’t that the biggest tragedy of all? When a boy has to be the devil in order to be significant?”But with an unbearable heat wave in town tensions rise and strange accidents start to occur that put the Bliss family head to head with their own personal demons Common sense was starting to melt away “People always ask Why does God allow suffering? Why does He allow a child to be beaten? A woman to cry? A holocaust to happen? A good dog to die painfully? Simple truth is He wants to see for Himself what we’ll do He’s stood up the candle put the devil at the wick and now He wants to see if we blow it out or let it burn down God is suffering’s biggest spectator”The above passage has been integrated into my heart because of its beauty and understandingJust everything was told in such an astonishingly vivid way Seriously the amount of uotes I’ve written down from the book into my own notes is a tad excessiveSimply put I didn’t want this book to come to an end— so much so that I even reread the first chapter And now I cannot wait for what Tiffany McDaniel will write next ARC kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review Note I'm an Affiliate If you're interested in buying The Summer That Melted Everything just click on the image below to go through my link I'll make a small commission This review and can be found on my blog


  9. says:

    Dismal Dirge for the anon CrowdPublished the Summer of 2016 Was an Omen of Trump’s Election Gloom despair and agony on me I wanted to hear the water go down the drains so I wouldn't have to hear myself doing the same Miss McDaniel peppers her baroue prose with such eyerollers A man named Autopsy Bliss no joke writes a letter to the local newspaper in the summer of 1984 inviting the Devil to the rural southern Ohio town of Breathed pronounced Breath Ed A few days later in reply a 12 year old African American boy shows up saying he is Satan Autopsy's son Fielding narrates the novel and at thirteen years old reminded me of the naiveté of 5 year old Opie in year 1 of The Andy Griffith Show This is the novel's only character who the author develops in any respect but unfortunately into a mawkish tragedian who sees each moment as doomed and speaks in mushy hyperbole so overwrought it sometimes approaches hilarity eg the only thing longer were his fingers which were tall and grasslike when his hands were up Perhaps that's why his palms were always a bit moist They were the wetlands and his fingers the bulrushes that grew at the edges of them Besides the young ‘un who refers in 3d person to himself as the Devil the remaining denizens of Breathed constitute the largest collection of shallow stereotyped characters of any novel I've read The mother is a gullible dimwit home maker the novel's two gay men a 16 year old boy and a reporter in his late 20s rush to the woods immediately upon discovering each other and the entire remainder of the cast is a town full of white Southerner stereotypes the most racist uneducated idiotic hateful homophobic simple alcoholic xenophobic Trump voting child beating wife beating slobbering hillbillies rednecks hicks yucks and bubbas mostly straight out of 1960s news footagePaint by numbers character traits reminding me of this exchange from the film Do the Right Thing Mookie Dago wop guinea garlic breath pizza slingin' spaghetti bendin' Vic Damone Perry Como Luciano Pavarotti Sole Mio nonsingin' motherfuckerPino You gold teeth gold chain wearin' fried chicken and biscuit eatin' monkey ape baboon big thigh fast runnin' high jumpin' spear chuckin' 360 degree basketball dunkin' titsun spade Moulan Yan Take your fuckin' pizza pizza and go the fuck back to AfricaStevie You little slanty eyed me no speaky American own every fruit and vegetable stand in New York bullshit Reverend Sun Myung Moon Summer Olympics '88 Korean kick boxing son of a bitchOfficer Long You Goya bean eating 15 in a car 30 in an apartment pointed shoes red wearing Menudo mire mire Puerto Rican cocksucker Yeah youSonny It's cheap I got a good price for you Mayor Koch How I'm doing chocolate egg cream drinking bagel and lox B'nai B'rith Jew asshole These offensive stereotypes display at best laziness andor worse an ignorance of the flaw and falsity inherent in casting a dark net over an entire category of peopleIf not offended by the novel's across the board drawing of its characters and lack of any development one might be nauseated by the overwrought writing in repeated use of maudlin metaphors syrupy similes hokey analogies and pathetic puppyisms such as I wanted to hear the water go down the drains so I wouldn't have to hear myself doing the same Or something about his eyes made me think of Russia Perhaps because they were so large the largest country in the world of his face The novel seems to be Ms McDaniel's attempt to throw into her debut novel every social ill and negative character trait she had stowed away in her idea file over the years She proceeds to bestow this surfeit of social subjects with the sappy sensationalist treatment In The Summer that Melted Everything I count sixteen teen suicide homophobia animal cruelty prejudice against the handicapped major depression cuckoldry religious bigotry achondroplasiaphobia a fear of short people sexual promiscuity psychological fears xenophobia alcohol abuse AIDS mass suicide mob mentality and as mentioned above racism Few novelists even those much experienced than Ms McDaniel are capable of adeuately exploring even half of these in the same novel While writing stories addressing social evils is admirable dilution to such a degree results in scant social messages that come across as overly didactic and pedantic If you choose to read it anyway Gloom Despair and Agony on You


  10. says:

    Okupdate A SMALL REVIEW but read OTHERS This community has written amazing ones I'm changing my vote SO FAR still waiting to read The Nix and The Gentleman From Moscow but as of todayI vote this book of books I've read BEST FICTION in the Goodreads voting ReviewWhy upon hearing the word 'Devil' did I just imagine the monster? Why did I fail to see the lake? A flower growing by the lake? A mantis praying on the very top of a rock? A foolish mistake it is to expect the beast because sometimes sometimes it is the flowers turn to own the nameThere is a level of sadness in this book fear and despair grief loss mourning bereavement leaving everyone vulnerable as though sorrow is the price of life itself The last 20% or so of this book is where I almost couldn't breathe It's a huge section of the entire novel's powertaking us deeper into an emotional state of a combination of tears and numbness The Summer that Melted Everything includes childhood charming dialogue warmth family bonds friendship humor compassion and mystery in the beginning pages Then the story begins to shift suffering and scars surface The book touches on AIDS homophobic racism and violence Innocence is lost to hatred and bigotry The beautiful writing is a giftcontributing compassion between good and evil in our world Very powerful One of the best books I've read this year Thank You Dan your encouragement made a difference and to the many friends in this community who read this before me and wrote some of the most gorgeous heartfelt outstanding reviews one would ever want to read about any book HIGHLY SUGGESTED Worth every penny It was 'my' mistake when I was sooo sure I wouldn't care for a book about a devil I had never wanted to read it even though I kept seeing high rating reviews I was wrong THIS IS AS POWERFUL and EXCEPTIONAL as readers have been sayingAMAZING will write review later Back into my reading cave for nowThere are already FANTASTIC reviews of this bookINCREDIBLE It wasn't anything I thought it would be the book I most resisted reading all yearA thousand times BETTER