Audiobook Review: Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
Spooky Season never ends in this house, because mister, we are the weirdos…but also a perfect time to read this adult, queer, southern gothic mystery!
Thank you to Macmillan Audio for the review copy, which in no way influenced my feelings stated below.
Summer Sonsby Lee Mandelo
Narrator: Will Damron
Published by: Tordotcom
on September 28, 2021
Genres: Adult, Horror, LGBTQIA+, Mystery
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 with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.
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, letting in the phantom that hungers for him.
All ghost stories are all truly about grief. This being one of them. Grief is a central theme, and the trauma our main character experiences, because he wasn’t there for his best friend before he died, runs deep throughout this story. There are of course mysterious curses, spectral spookiness, and when you come out on the other side, some healing and hopefulness.
There is the southern gothic charm and creepiness wrapped up in themes of generational wealth, racism, and whose backs does one have to stand on to make it further in this world. The dark side of academia and the car racing gave balance to the longing of lost chances of love and family.
These boys are messy and living as best they can in the situations they find themselves in, and wrap that up with some toxic masculinity, and fast cars, drugs, and alcohol – you get a glimpse into many different aspects of living in the south and being gay, queer, or trans. I for one love the slow burn romance and external realization of finally figuring out yourself after all these years, all wrapped into exquisite prose and characters you may just love to hate.
The audiobook narrator was fantastic. He had a brilliant accent that gave the story depth of feeling and didn’t distract. You really get pulled into the grips of this story with its unlikeable characters that desperately needed therapy, but you never stop rooting for them, and in the end you just are happy you made it out alive…and afterwards you just think to yourself what did I just read? Yeah, it’s that atmospheric and engulfing, but in that good way.
I loved the slow burn, the creepy ghosts, and the murder mystery. Highly recommended this queer spooky story!
Serious CWs looks those up if you’re into scary books but please be safe.