That’s What She Read: The devil went down to Ohio

“The Summer that Melted Everything” by Tiffany McDaniel is a seriously weird story.

It’s 1984 in Breathed, OH. Attorney Autopsy Bliss runs an ad in the local paper inviting the devil himself to stop by and prove his existence. Soon after the ad runs, his son Fielding meets a very odd young boy who claims he is Lucifer incarnate and has arrived in person to answer the ad.

Sal (a.k.a. the devil), is accompanied by a ferocious heat wave that grips the town and doesn’t let up for the entire summer. Accidents, miscarriages, fights, ugly mobs and all sorts of violence and general tragedy seems to boil over in the heat, and Sal is always involved. Is he the catalyst for these events? A wandering farm boy runaway from a neighboring town? Could he really be demonic? Could he be the very devil?

Things start to unravel badly, especially for the Bliss family, who decide to take Sal in, and over time they grow attached to him, defending him from their increasingly hostile neighbors. The heat is unrelenting, and so is the suspense, as secrets are revealed and it becomes increasingly difficult to judge just who is good and who is evil. The ending is explosive, and opens up even more questions about who Sal is and why he came to Breathed.

“The Summer that Melted Everything” is a very southern, very gothic tale. It’s atmospheric and downright creepy at times. On top of that, it does not hold much redemption for its characters, and is also quite depressing. Why would I even read this very dark novel?

Because I had to find out what happened when the devil came to call in Breathed, OH.

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