Cover Image: Summer Sons

Summer Sons

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Member Reviews

When I read the synopsis for this book, I knew that I had to read this. Hot boys, hot cars, gothic horror murder mystery? It literally has all of my favourite things. THIS BOOK WAS SO FRICKIN' GOOD! If it isn't on your must-read/to-read list put it there otherwise you're honestly missing out.
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Summer Sons was a trip and a half - heavy on the Southern Gothic in ways that I wouldn't have expected, and many times in ways that I enjoyed. This books is atmosphere focused - there isn't tons of character growth until the last 15-20 percent of the novel, and it takes a while for the plot to catch on, but there is a lot of mystery and intrigue. Definitely a book that I could imagine in my minds eye. Reading this in the heat of July (thanks netgalley) in the South definitely contributed to the atmosphere for me - there are quite a few scenes that involve things such as evening bonfires and sweating in the car with the windows down. I liked how Mandelo brought in elements such as Appalachian folk magic, recovering from internalized homophobia, the realities of how rich families made their fortunes in the South, the race and class divides often found in rural communities, and the isolation one feels when they've experienced trauma; I personally would have enjoyed it if those themes had been expanded upon further. Looking at in from the angle of a spooky summer (or fall) read, however, it was quite enjoyable.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. The opinions expressed herein are mine alone and may not reflect the views of the author, publisher, or distributor.

I saw SUMMER SONS on a friend's TBR and thought, "That sounds interesting. I need it." So my request got filled, thanks NetGalley, and I read it. And it was okay.

Late July-early August was probably the best time I could have read this, as the oppressive humidity on the coast echoed the close, hot air of Tennessee in SUMMER SONS. Andrew is devastated when he finds out his best friend--and maybe soulmate?--committed suicide literal days before Andrew was to go and start the grad program at Vanderbilt they'd agreed to go through together. They were childhood best friends, sworn to be closer than brothers, and now Eddie is gone and has left Andrew everything: his house, his substantial inheritance, and some roommates that Andrew doesn't even want. Then phantoms and shades start appearing, and Andrew has no idea what they're trying to tell him. Or if they mean him harm.

I like books that are charged with emotion. Dark academia is also a guilty pleasure. So I thought these two things combined would really throw me. It could be that I read this at the wrong time in my life, as has happened with other books I've ended up loving. But I thought this was just okay. The supernatural elements could have been more, considering how SUMMER SONS is billed all over Goodreads, and I found that part to be less satisfactory than I had hoped. The writing was great and really carried across Andrew's grief, which did punch me pretty hard. I guess I just missed the mark this time.

Will other readers enjoy all the tension and themes running deep in the veins of a Tennessee summer? I think so, for sure.
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I had such a hard time putting this book down. Lee Mandelo does and excellent job of hooking me into the story and making me want to know exactly what is going to happen next. The story is basically about 2 friends. Andrew and Eddie have been friends since they were children. Eddie goes away to grad school but tells Andrew to hold off on coming up for a while and when Andrew is finally told to come up, Eddie commits suicide and leaves everything to his friend. Andrew spirals out of control while trying to figure out what happened, who of his friends, friends he can trust and what to do next with his life when it feels like there is a gaping hole in his chest where his friend used to be. The story is riddled with feelings of grief and loss that are palpable. Andrew has lost Eddie before he was ready and the inner turmoil is raw and honest. The characters are dynamic with themes of lgbtq+ (but it isn't the main focus of the story). The story itself is a very slow burn suspense that could be described as dark gothic. Moments are eerie and unsettling but it is not scary or gruesome (mostly). There are some scenes with fast cars, parties, sex and hard drugs, and I only say this so that if any of this isn't your jam, now you know. I don't know if this would be a book for everyone, but if any of this appeals to you, I think you will really like it and you should totally give it a chance. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
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Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My friend read an eARC of this a couple months ago and has been hounding me to request it and read it ever since. Her selling pitch was that this book is Fast and Furious meets queer Southern gothic academia and y'all? It is. And it is so good. I keep recommending this book to everyone I meet. I will probably read it again once I can get my hands on a physical copy.

But okay. Let's back up a moment first.

Andrew has just arrived in Nashville after the death of his best friend (slash maybe-something-more) Eddie. In his wake, Eddie left Andrew an incredibly large inheritance, two houses, a roommate and group of friends who don't seem to match the perfectly curated story Eddie told Andrew, and more questions than answers. Everyone believes that Eddie committed suicide, but Andrew believes—in many ways has to believe—that isn't the case. And although Andrew wants nothing to do with Nashville and the horrors that haunt him there, Andrew is determined to retrace Eddie's steps and figure out where things went wrong. As the mystery unravels like the slow-spooling molasses that generally fuels Southern gothic stories, Andrew finds himself caught up in the smarmy, obsequious world of academia and in the dangerous, high adrenaline nightlife of racing and drugs—all with a queer and literally haunting twist.

I literally cannot praise this novel enough. After finishing it, I sent a message to the friend who recommended it to me saying in all caps (changed here because I don't want to alarm anyone with my shouting): "Finished Summer Sons. Loved Summer Sons. Want to marry Lee Mandelo's prose in Summer Sons. Woof." That is still my opinion of this book. Mandelo writes with such careful skill and raw feeling; every single line feels hand-crafted to reach into my chest and wrench out my still-beating heart. Their writing is how I aspire to write—I ended this book wanting to immediately dive back into my own writing, which is, I think, the highest praise I can give to another writer. Every one of Mandelo's characters is complex and multifaceted. I care about all of them, even the ones we don't see as much throughout the narrative of the book (hello Ethan and Luca). I adore the varying relationships between the main characters, and how slow burn the slow burn romance is. (Once again, I will say: woof!!! When you reach that payoff, it is so very satisfying.)

I also need to talk about Andrew and Eddie's relationship. It was quite possibly my favorite part of the book. Their relationship is frenetic, complicated, and chock full of "maybes"— a concept that is underutilized in other fiction but completely fleshed out and thematically resonant here. Eddie is dead before the book begins, but Mandelo slowly but surely gives you glimpses into the kind of person he was and (most importantly) the kind of person he was with Andrew. The "maybes" that haunt their fraught relationship are the true ghost of the story. Those "maybes" ache and they pull in the best of ways, and the conclusion Andrew reaches by the end of the novel felt real, was satisfying, and resonated with me on a deep visceral level.

At its core this novel is about charged relationships and the complex emotions of boys, friends as family and as a pack, ghosts both real and metaphorical, and the very real racial tensions that underlie academia and the Southern gothic. This book is raw, sensual, and hauntingly written. This book is The Fast and the Furious meets The Raven Boys meets your liberal arts/grad school experience. I will be thinking about this book for weeks on end. Read this book. It will not disappoint.
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UNREAL. This book manages to convey grief and trauma so well, Andrew's journey is genuinely very compelling - it makes the book VERY HARD to put down, so don't open this for the first time an hour before you're meant to head to bed (it'll be near impossible). It's clever, it's tender, and it's deliciously haunting. I cannot recommend it enough.
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A perfect spooky summer read!  Great for lovers of The Raven Boys. Mandelo delivers a fantastically atmospheric thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat the entire time.  But surprisingly, it's also beautifully emotional.  A great cross-genre read.
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This book just wasn't for me. I can appreciate the writing (particularly the atmospheric description), but I find it hard to read horror that doesn't have any hope. I may take another shot at it one day.
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This book was very difficult for me to review. As it’s written by a male author with an all-male cast of characters, I strongly suspect that I am not the intended audience for this book, so please take everything I have to say with a large dollop of salt. (Maybe put that salt in a circle, because this book features GHOSTS!) 

In a nutshell:  Andrew and are best friends bonded more deeply than brothers. But while enrolled in a graduate program in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide six months before Andrew was due to join him. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, a pile of lurid research into back-holler curses and haunts, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that won’t leave him alone.

Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death among his circle of backstabbing academics and a crowd of drug-dealing, fast-driving, hard-drinking friends, all the while trusting no one. Soon he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. 

What I didn’t like: The first 60% of this book was a miasma of grief, guilt, toxic masculinity, emotional repression, bros trying to out-bro each other, denial, and more repression. As such, it was extremely slow-moving and hard to get through. It was also pretty confusing, and I was very frustrated with Andrew. 

What I liked: Finally, the storyline picked up and then things got interesting. I enjoyed seeing Andrew open up to others and become more self-aware. After he started trusting others, the plot got moving, the hauntings were explained, the mystery was solved, and I was happy with the ending. 

In conclusion: If you liked The Bright Lands by John Fram, give this one a try! 

Thank you @TorDotCom and #NetGalley for the #ARC of this book!
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Minutes after finishing reading this book, I declared it a new all time favorite of mine. As someone who loved Fast and Furious, but always wished it was queer, this book was the perfect match to my desire. I loved the characters, the relationship, the unfolding mystery. It was full of incredible queer rep throughout.

The main draw is the relationship between Sam and Andrew. if you love Fast Saga like me, this is the what if story of Dom and Brian your heart is likely clamoring for. If you've never seen the Saga, you will still enjoy the dynamic. It is a beautifully realized exploration of a complicated and wonderful love.
The found family is also pitch perfect. It's impossible not to become enthralled with the dynamic of their little group, the way they care for each other.
The mystery is breathtaking. It kept me turning the pages as I waited to see what came next.

Going a bit deeper, the themes of classism, homophobia--both external and internalized, and the dangers of clingy to grief were exquisitely realized throughout the story. This book was beautiful, start to finish.
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Thank you @NetGalley for this eARC of #SummerSons


Based on the synopsis I was excited for this book, and was not let down. 

The story of the MC and his refusal to believe his friend could die by suicide took him on a road that gives him answers too. 

I did find myself at times asking okay how is this supposed to it in. But in the end it all came together.
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*Thank you to the publisher Tor for an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review*
5 stars! Wow this book was a wild ride! Summer Sons is volatile, gothic, and gritty with a sprinkle of humor!
If you like stories with:
-a dark academia setting
-very queer characters! (trans character and m/m love) the author is trans too btw
-spooky ghost stories
-southern gothic vibes
You should read this book!

This story is about Andrew who is left drowning in grief after his best friend Eddie dies. His death is ruled a suicide, and Andrew inherits all of Eddie's belongings and his house. Andrew believes there is something suspicious about Eddie's death and goes to Eddie's university to uncover the truth.

Ok my fav thing about this was the characters! Andrew is morally gray and going through a lot of grief but man his character development throughout the story was so beautiful! Also I loved the discussions of discovering one's sexuality, stunning! Summer Sons has creepy haunted houses, the smoke and mirrors of high brow academia, fast cars, bad boys, and lots of queer rep!

Also the VIBES of this book were awesome! We get sweltering southern heat, grief, and ghosts all at once! The creepy dark history of the south is front and center here.

Summer Sons also has drug use, drinking, and sexual content. It is set at university and the characters are in graduate school so be aware of that, this book is adult. I loved that the characters are in their twenties though, we need more books like this. The voice of the writing was really strong and felt authentic to the age of the characters.

Omg if you liked Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo or Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor then I think you'll enjoy this one too. It has the dark academia and ghosts of Ninth House and the queerness and violence of Hurricane Season.
A perfect book for the summer, highly recommend!!
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This is a well-written novel about loss. It's so well written that there were times that I needed to put down the book and take a breather. 

Andrew lost his best friend in an apparent suicide. This death leads him to question the nature of his relationship with his friend while his friend's ghoul is giving him hints that he was murdered.

The loss of Eddie colored this book in a gray feeling. All of Andrew's actions are about him dealing with this sorrow. Every time he might be doing something healthy, Eddie's ghoul comes back to drag him down again. The bright spots are his roommate, Riley, and Riley's cousin, Sam. Andrew doesn't trust them, but you can feel their concern leaking through the pages. The characters become more fleshed out the more time Andrew spends with them.

I can't accurately describe how beautiful the prose is. It haunts you after putting the book down.

Review based on an advanced reader copy provided through Netgalley for an honest review.
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I loved this book so much I immediately reread it. And then read it again.
This is, in my opinion, the perfect queer southern gothic horror story. Period. 
It’s poignant. There are elements of mystery. Self discovery and acceptance. Danger. Ghosts. Loss and grief. All dripping with southern humidity and charm.
Mandelo has crafted characters with such depth and intensity, you’re almost surprised that they don’t leap off the page. I would happily read another twenty books set in this universe, and can’t stop talking about Summer Sons.
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The imagery in this book was really gorgeous. Incredibly well-written, engaging and evocative prose, all the stars in the world for the prose, would definitely pick up another one of this author's book.

The main kicker for me, with this book, was the...lets say languid pacing. So slow. This book is almost 400 pages, and I would say nothing of any urgency happens until the last 20%. This it is yknow a bit of a mystery, but the scenes were so repetitive. Andrew wakes up. He is haunted by the revenant in a way he refuses to acknowledge. He gets an ice coffee. He doesn't answer his emails. He drives somewhere and drinks or smokes. This happens for the other 80% of the book. Maybe that's on purpose, who knows, it does certainly build an atmosphere, but it did make it a trial to read, and that was with my infatuation with the writing itself.

When this book was good, it was really really good. Obviously I enjoyed it, since I rated it 4 stars. But most of the time it was just a slog.

I will say: I adore Riley, the roommate that Andrew inherits from Eddie. I loved the way he was written, and he frequently had me laughing. I did love the character writing and relationships throughout but again, I just I got so tired of reading. It was hard to keep invested. Overall I do recommend it, especially if the tagline about it being a queer southern gothic fast and the furious ronan and kavinsky-esque tale. Just be prepared.
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This was a great Southern Gothic story with LBGTQ+ representation. Summer Sons is where horror is headed and I can't wait to see where Lee Mandelo is up to following this.
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This is a difficult book to review. I loved a lot of things about it and I enjoyed reading it, but small things about the characters bothered me. As a southerner from the other major city in Tennessee, it was interesting to see Nashville as the setting, and I liked that the south felt like a complex and complicating factor in the story. In many ways this book feels like both a study of and an ode to southern masculinity, and that didn't always resonate or ring true with me. It's possible that I'm just not the intended audience for the book, and I'm OK with that. But in my lifetime of experience as a southerner, young men who drag race on the expressway while intoxicated and throw garbage out the window without a thought (ugh why does Andrew do this repeatedly?) do not also think or care about how the legacies of slavery and racism are responsible for their current comfort. I don't need books to moralize and preach, but I found it hard to connect to characters who never spare a single thought for ideas of basic common sense or consideration of others. 

I liked the ghost story aspect, although the original incident with the boys in the cavern and how the curse affected them seemed a little hazy. I could see who the villain would be from the first time that character was introduced, but I didn't mind too much. I agree with other reviewers that the story dragged and repeated a bit in the middle. I enjoyed the writing and the atmosphere.
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Summer Sons is a wild, frenetic ride from start to finish and I am *obsessed*. I know we're all hooked on dark themes right now, considering the state of everything, and this scratches that itch with such perfection that I want to start it again immediately. The ominous taint of old, dark southern magic spreads across every page until it reaches a fevered pitch, and you'll chase it every step of the way like a ravenous haunt. Spread the word. This book is how we're launching queer spooky season this year.
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I intentionally took my time with this book because I felt early on that it would be one of my favorite reads of the year. And it was. There was a lot of buzz around this one and it fully lives up. It truly is a southern gothic tale, with a heavy splash of dark academia.

The characters are beautiful and nuanced, the story original and captivating. It’s sexy and heartbreaking and eerie. It’s everything I could’ve asked for. That. Ending.

I can’t recommend this one highly enough. So grateful to have received an ARC from NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.
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The number of genres this book crosses is incredible. And to think that doesn't make this book utter chaos....perfection!!! I loved the cross of southern gothic and dark academia.
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