The Summer that Melted Everything is a newly released novel by debut author Tiffany McDaniel. She has stepped into the literary arena with a lyrical and powerful novel about good, evil, and the devil himself. Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.
Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.
Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.
When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him.
As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be.
While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.
McDaniel’s writing is beautiful. Never before have I highlighted so many quotes in a novel. To me, the following passage hints perfectly at the story you will read, and it glimpses her exquisite writing:
“But did you know that in Wisconsin, there is a lake, a wondrous lake, called the Devil? In Wyoming, there is a magnificent intrusion of rock named after the same. There is even a most spectacular breed of praying mantis known as the devil’s flower. And a flower, in the genus Crocosmia, known simply as Lucifer.
Why, upon hearing the world devil, did I just imagine the monster? Why did I fail to see a lake? A flower growing by that 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 flower’s turn to own the name.”
This is gut-wrenching tale of prejudice, sorrow, betrayal, and hope. You will be transported to Breathed, Ohio in the mid-80’s during the most sweltering months of summer. In that unbearable heat you’ll be forced to bear witness to the full spectrum of human behavior: from the most horrific crimes to the greatest feats of kindness.
Unfortunately, literary fiction is not my favorite genre (simply because it’s using a lot more words to move the plot forward). If I enjoyed the genre more, I think that this book would have easily have made its way to my all-time favorites. I can say with certainty that it is one of my favorite literary novels that I’ve read. The setting is vivid, the characters step off of the page, and the writing is simply perfect. This book is as sticky as skin in the Ohio heat of 1984, and I’m still pulling pieces of this story off of me. It’s a novel I’m unlikely to forget.
“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 her.”
“But up close, the trees were scorched, the grass was dead, and the boys were on the verge of tears with the belts of those morals tightened around their necks, threatening to hang them if they dared step off the stool of masculinity.”
I would highly recommend this novel to any lover of literary fiction.
“So to defend the devil means defending the good of the bad.”
Have you read or heard of this novel? If not, what are your thoughts? What are some of your favorite contemporary literary fiction novels?