Fielding Bliss has never never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heatwave scorched the small town of Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.
When local prosecutor Autopsy Bliss publishes an invitation to the devil to come to the country town of Breathed, Ohio, nobody quite expects that he will turn up. They especially don’t expect him to turn up as a tattered and bruised thirteen-year-old boy.
Fielding, 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 be.
But 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 town.
Devastatingly beautiful, The Summer That Melted Everything is a captivating story about community, redemption, and the dark places where evil really lies.
‘In this bold and surprising debut novel, Tiffany McDaniel reveals a new voice in contemporary fiction. At times comic, at times heartbreaking, The Summer That Melted Everything, moves between the future and the past, and gives us a window on a particular time, the hell-hot summer of 1984, and a group of characters George Orwell could not have imagined. In this world nothing is quite what it seems, as mystery and revelation alternate, right up to the end. At times surreal, magical, this story of a family and community incorporates global warming, AIDS, discrimination, fear, mass hysteria, lynching, and martyrdom, but in the end is a love story, warning us not to be too quick in judging what is evil and what is good.’
Robert Morgan, New York Times bestselling author of Gap Creek (an Oprah Book Club Selection)
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‘Sometimes a book comes along that is so good that it defies all descriptions, but I’ll give it a shot anyway: Tiffany McDaniel’s astounding and heartbreaking The Summer That Melted Everything reads as if Carson McCullers and Shirley Jackson got together with Nathaniel Hawthorne in some celestial backwater and decided to write the first truly great gothic coming-of-age novel of the twenty-first century. There, I said it. Now read it.’
Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff and The Devil All the Time
‘It is rare that a narrative makes me question my own beliefs. This book did that very thing. A fine story with a message about truth, trust, family, and the dangers of the devils among us.’
Suzanne Palmieri, author of The Witch of Bourbon Street
‘The Summer That Melted Everything is a blast of hellfire, humor, and heartbreak that’s part Flannery O’Connor, part Stephen King, and wholly original.’
Lou Berney, author of The Long and Faraway Gone
‘A wondrous debut of a novel. Imagine To Kill a Mockingbird, seen through the eyes of Neil Gaiman. McDaniel’s prose is rich and magical, full of passages of exquisite, strange beauty that ache with bitter truths and old sorrows. You’ll not read anything else like it.’
James Sie, author of Still Life Las Vegas
‘Sometimes there is a novel so strange and beguiling it makes you give up your world for another world, all the while that you are reading it. Such a story is Tiffany McDaniel’s tale of an enchanted boy — who might be the devil — welcomed into a family with no right to their name, Bliss. It will frighten you, and charm you, and break your heart if you allow it … and you will allow it, because once this world has hold of you, it won’t let you go.’
Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean (the very first Oprah Book Club selection) and Two if by Sea
‘McDaniel opens up a thought-provoking world powered by increasing suspense … A powerful debut.’
Sunday Star Times
‘Dark and wholly original … Gloriously Gothic.’
‘Hugely ambitious, stuffed with very vivid characters … A fascinating, poignant story.’
Amanda Craig, Radio 4 ‘Saturday Review’
‘Fantastic … The Summer That Melted Everything is a novel you’ll want to re-read.’
‘There’s more than an echo of To Kill a Mockingbird here … though Fielding’s journey from innocence to experience is a whole lot darker than Scout’s … Atmosphere is key when it comes to southern gothic, and the summer heat licks like hellfire through McDaniel’s pages … The Summer That Melted Everything is a genuinely unnerving, deliciously dark tale of the evil that lies in ordinary people.’
‘A hefty slice of deep south gothic’
Sam Baker, The Pool
‘Gently written, allegorical, domestic, with myths of the underworld explored like never before through the eyes of a man looking back on his sins. One of the most beautiful books of the year.’
A wildly riffing trumpet voluntary that sustains its thrilling high notes from start to finish … A startlingly rich imagination shouts its glorious arrival in this overwhelming narrative of sin, redemption, love and death.’
Jane Housman, The Guardian