Cover Image: Summer Sons

Summer Sons

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Member Reviews

I finished this book a long time ago, but I forgot to write a review about it on NetGalley. I am not really sure what I liked about this book and what I didn't like because this book is kind of unmemorable to me now. I can't tell you if this is going to be a favorite of yours, but what I can say is that it was enjoyable when I was reading it and it will probably not be a memorable read.
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I can't believe I am so behind on the times, but I finally sat down and read Summer Sons. Now to take a few minutes to review it, as Lee Mandelo's writing deserves that much!

Andrew and Eddie were the best of friends. You'll notice the past tense in that statement. Eddie had to head off to continue his education. That shouldn't have been the end of the friendship. It wouldn't have been had Andrew had any say in the matter.

Unfortunately, Eddie's apparent suicide stops his plans in their tracks. Now Andrew is determined to get to the truth behind Eddie's death, even if that means handling a macabre inheritance and other...concerning details.

“Scrolling on his phone passed the time as he fought to tamp down the swelling tide of memories and miseries.”

Summer Sons is an intense horror read, perfect for this darker Tor line. Seriously guys, don't make the same mistake I did – read this book when it is nice and sunny out. As opposed to dark, dreary, and right before bed. Yeah, mistakes were made.

I think what made Summer Sons all the more chilling for me was how slowly it burned. That gradually growing sense of fear and horror got to me. Don't get me wrong – I loved every minute of it. I just also happened to pay an emotional toll in the process.

That's not all that hit me about Summer Sons because apparently, Lee Mandelo pulled out all the stops. There is something so painfully human about Andrew's situation – losing a best friend and trying so hard to hang on to whatever scraps remain, including a mystery that needs solving. It hurts.

Thankfully, there are good moments to balance those harder moments, including my favorite trope – the found family. I love it, and I hope you guys do as well because it plays a huge part in this book.
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What an absolutely spooky and chilling read! I loved every second I spent within the pages of this book!
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I liked the setup/buildup a lot, but began to lose engagement at the last third of the book. I thought it would be more heavy on the gothic/horror elements than it ended up being; so perhaps it was a matter of reader expectations.
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TW: Suicide, Discussions of Suicide, drug use, greif. 

Andrew and Eddie have been close for a long time. After Eddie's parents died, Eddie was adopted by Andrew's parents. They became inseparable. Inseparable until Eddie goes away to college and turns up dead six months after, having died of an apparent suicide. Andrew isn't convinced Eddie would have ever done that, so he goes to the College Eddie was attending and becomes a students under the same professor and meets all the people Eddie had been hanging out with before he died. Andrew is determined to uncover the truth. 

This books is a whole lot of fever dream with ghosts in every chapter, and a ton of drug use that makes you wonder what is really going on at times. Both Eddie and Andrew can see ghosts, and there is a strong presence of dark things lurking where we least expect it. One of my favorite things about this book is how much ghost action we actually get. 

This book is a new adult, LGBTQ+ thriller with a Male/Male romance. There are tons of adult scenes in this and even a scene that goes through the process of what it's like to die from suicide with all the graphic details that are attached. 

This book's pacing is EXTREMELY slow and patience is key to getting through this. If you are looking for a slow burn ghost story with curses, witchcraft and other dark things, I think this would be a book you would enjoy. The storyline and the progression of the story can be agonizingly slow, but you do get a ghost I'm every chapter. 

I did love the ghost aspect, but the slowness of this book almost made me DNF it a few times. It took forever for the story to really pick up. I did love the characters though, especially Sam. Sam was a strong supporting character that Andrew was really close to. 

I loved the ghosts and how this story was written in all the visceral detail of spooky effectiveness.
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I finally got around to Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo and I have to say I'm really glad I read this one! It's a mixture of horror, dark academia, and southern gothic, so it would've been a perfect fall read (of course I waited until winter!)

This story addresses loss, grief, and racism, so please be aware of content warnings for discussion of suicide, murder, institutional racism, and the type of slow burn horror that could give one nightmares. There's also plenty of alcohol and drug use in this one. 

Although I didn't find any of the characters terribly likeable, I did find the relationship between Andrew and his deceased best friend Eddie very compelling. If you've ever had an extremely close "ride or die" type of best friend, it's very easy to understand and feel Andrew's grief. In this story Eddie's death literally haunts Andrew and it's absolutely heartbreaking.

If you're looking for horror with queer rep and haunting writing, I'd highly recommend picking up Mandelo's Summer Sons! This is a beautifully written debut!
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This is a book that long after you finish it'll push at you. Thinking of the writing and the imagery, and the way it all unfolds.
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This is a story about denial.

This book was not for me 🤷‍♀️. It was atmospheric & conceptually very cool- I loved the occult vibes and undercurrent of tension.  Unfortunately, I hated the protagonist, and most of the side characters.  I also felt like the interesting aspects of the magic system weren’t explored enough, and the miserable inner workings of the characters brain were explored too heavily.  I think some readers will probably love this, but alas.

Thank you so much Netgalley, Macmillan & Tor/Forge for this eArc!
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This book was amazing, LGBTQ+ and I enjoyed it immensely. I definitely recommend this book and I suggest adding it to your Fall TBR. I gave the book 4.5 stars and I don't give such high ratings easily.
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This was such a difficult read for me. It was written in a way that was confusing and didn’t keep my interest. It felt all over the place. The supernatural elements to the story is what made me continue reading. It felt way too long for what it was and the characters all seemed to blend into one.
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This neo southern gothic novel is a compendium of the best of the genre. Set in Nashville, it tells the story of two young men that grew up together and were secretly in love with each other, in a kind of unhealthy and almost sadistic relationship. 
When Eddie dies of an apparent suicide, Andrew inherits Eddie's possessions. He was going to join his friend in Nashville in the graduates program at Vanderbilt University, but Eddie's unexpected death sets him for a completely different journey in which he will have to deal with new relationships and a ghost that keeps haunting him and is seeking for revenge. Andrew finds himself fighting against his own impulses in a permanent state of alienation. As the storyline progresses we find all those elements that make the south such a prosperous background for this kind of story: slavery, patriarchy with all the traits of a very toxic masculinity and the racism that still live across the institutions and the society. 
Mandelo's writing is flawless and his prose is in line with a literary genre that is characterized by being dark, oppressive and highly symbolic. An author that I look forward to read in the future.
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5/5 stars. I absolutely LOVED this. It was fan-fucking-tastic. Please excuse my language. I got major the Raven Cycle vibes from the paranormal-fantasy aspect, but I also got those vibes from the friendships and relationships. The writing had been complex, but also understandable and written in a way where you had no choice but to connect with the characters and feel for what they were doing and going through. Sam and Andrews relationship was very exploratory for Andrew, but not in a bad way at all. Andrew was able to start to figure out his sexuality and the feelings that he had had towards Eddie through his relationship with Sam, but Andrew was also falling for Sam and being open to the relationship. This book is definitely a new 2021 favorite of the year.
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I'm here to say that Summer Sons needs to be on everyones radar. Lee Mandelo delivers some truly lush prose in their debut, while telling a propulsive, nightmarish story of grief & love & obsession & betrayal. This book is INTENSE. With drag racing, the dark academia vibe, and more than a little bit of the occult in the mix, SUMMER SONS definitely shares a bit in common with THE RAVEN BOYS. That said, this is unequivocally a horror novel, and it’s frequently quite disturbing.
Full review to come on YouTube.
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Summer Sons is a dark, broody book that delves into the darker recesses of relationships and trauma. It’s also a queer horror, something I absolutely loved reading for this summer going into Winter.

The representations was well done, and all the characters were flawlessly written. The sort of complexity that raises the stakes within the story. However, the characters can come off as unlikeable at times. All characters and their actions are bathed in shades of moral grey. I’d like to warn about the dark themes, including suicide - to anyone this may trigger. 

I will say the atmosphere can be overwhelming, and Andrew was hard for me to digest as a character. He was not relatable even in his negative personality traits and addictions. It made it harder to read as the book went on, and the plot seemed to pick up too late. Overall, I had to DNF it. Though I do know the book would be great for another type of reader.
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“I don’t want to share not even with a dead man.” 

Survivors of a traumatic event in their teen years, best friends Andrew and Eddie are inseparable. Bonded beyond brotherhood. 

When Eddie gets early admission to Vanderbilt, for a program they both will be attending, they spend an agonizing spring apart. Andrew can’t wait to join him but Eddie seems less eager for him to come to Nashville.

When Eddie turns up dead from an apparent suicide, Andrew refuses to believe that happened. 

So Andrew heads to Nashville and steps into Eddie’s life. His house and his friends, his thesis and the research that could’ve got him killed. 

What follows is a story dripping grief from every page. Fast cars and bad decisions. Dark academia and pitch black family histories. Violence, curses, ghosts and haunted houses. I’d be remiss to not mention all the angst and sexual tension 😅. Sam. Oh, Sam. 

This queer neo-noir southern gothic horror  was exactly what I needed. 

4.5 stars rounded up.
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This is a really hard book to rate because while it is well written and has great representation of queer characters,  it wasn't the story for me. I definitely wanted more horror elements and dark academia in the first half of the novel. The mystery part of the novel picks up in the second half, but it seemed a bit too late. I want to give a shoutout to the character of Sam, who is so memorable and complex. I really loved him.
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I didn't get very far into the book before giving up on it. It wasn't that it was bad. I thought it had some interesting ideas and the writing was okay, but it's just not my speed. It's very dark, broody, and angsty. If you like those things, then this book is for you. I don't mind a dark story once in a while, but I'm picky about how it presents itself, and this one just didn't do it for me. Maybe I'll pick it up again in the future, but that probably won't happen for a very long time. 
I do love that cover though!
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Aw man... this book was such bullshit. I should have listened to my gut and DNFd it. I don't know why I bother convincing myself to keep giving books a chance when I know... I KNOW... it's not for me. Omigerd I should just learn to let them go.

I acquired a digital arc for this one ages ago, before all the buzz started up around it. And that, that right there should have been a red flag, because me and big buzz books don't typically get along. But I'm usually in lock-step with tordotcom. It's unusual for me to NOT like a book they've put out... so I just kept hoping it might get better, go someplace I wasn't expecting it to go, that it might surprise me in the end.

But. NOPE!

I just... I think I need to sit here for a bit with my disappointment.
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“That friendship was a muted fraction of the real thing, the marrow-thing, that tied them together…he couldn’t find a label that fit where he needed it to go. Maybe instead, just a hard stop: he was yours.”

Hot, smoldering southern nights. Fast cars and rough boys. A jealous revenant, insistent on being heard. Tattoos, shared in blood over clasped fists. Hungry land and family curses from a bygone era. An aching, insatiable want.

I would have read SUMMER SONS based on these vibes alone, but Mandelo delivers on so much more. The story, in brief: Eddie and Andrew have been best friends since childhood, closer than brothers. In the wake of Eddie’s apparent suicide, Andrew moves to Nashville and starts the same graduate program that Eddie was in, working to solve the mystery of his death and the darkness that has haunted them both for years.

This novel is a searing modern gothic about the weight of grief, the impenetrable uncertainty of why someone leaves us, and what it means to mourn a love that was never allowed to come to fruition. It’s very much about coming out, but not in a tidy, finished way (as if it’s ever that). Andrew’s realizations about himself are tied to bone-deep sorrow, unfulfilled desire, regret about his past actions, and confusion about what he wants now. Watching him slowly pull the pieces together about his queerness and the nature of his relationship with Eddie and start to work through some of his internalized homophobia absolutely tore my heart out - the ending just barely started to repair it.

The representation of masculinity in this book burns hot; these men remind me in many ways of the tough, rural boys I grew up with, branded by the toxic veins of masculinity, but with a vulnerable, soft underbelly that gutted me. Mandelo reckons with the crushing racism of academia, the legacy of slavery and how it manifests in the South, and how oblivious white people - even/especially white queers - can be to these facts. The immersive writing, combined with the powerful, almost sultry audiobook narration, stripped me bare; there is a raw physicality to this book, sometimes gritty and sometimes sensual, bringing to life both body horror and tender affection. And I haven’t even begun talking about the trans and poly rep!

An absolute favorite of this year and a book I won’t forget for a long time. Thank you to for the ARC and Macmillan Audio for the ALC!

Content warnings: discussions of suicide, driving while intoxicated, violence, homophobia, dead/mutilated animals, death of a loved one
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Thank you Netgallery and Tordotcom for this ARC!

Wow. The only word I can use to describe this is “dense”. It is a sweltering tale of southern heritage at its worst and finest. This has so much to it and is captivating in its uniqueness. It’s a tale of love and lost and finding yourself despite yourself. It’s incredibly detailed both in description and in emotion. The writing is DENSE with an empathy that radiates through the page. It’s a complex poetic piece of ART.
I both adore and despise Andrew with the same ferocity. Sam is a juxtaposition of a character and had me cheering for and against him all at once. And I would give my left lung for Riley. There’s really nothing like the haunted sticky south, with drugs, fast cars, and hot men.
You know it’s a good book when you learn more about yourself too (and all those new vocabulary words!). I absolutely adore this book. In fact, I’m going to re-read as soon as I post this.
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