Cover Image: Summer Sons

Summer Sons

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Member Reviews

Let me preface this by saying that I was 5 seconds away from DNF’ing Summer Sons. Thankfully, I was able to get my hands on the audiobook from Netgalley and trucked along. So naturally I want to first and foremost recommend the audiobook if you find yourself losing interest while physically reading. With all that being said it will come to no surprise that I was bored for 70% of this novel, but I’m so happy to report that the book redeems itself towards the end. I truly loved and enjoyed the last quarter of it. Now, you might be asking yourself, is it worth it to stick through almost an entire book for the ending? For me, it was, but you will have to find out for yourself if it is or isn’t. There is a sex scene in here that wow, and a relationship that blossoms that completely stole my heart over! I will admit that the whole racing portion of it didn’t do anything for me, but I can see why the author included it.  I love the Fast and Furious saga, my husband and I are obsessed with it actually, but to read about it just doesn’t do it for me.  Luckily, there isn’t a lot of the racing going on so if this aspect doesn’t appeal to you as much know that it’s a small portion of the book. The part that I was really interested in when I was given the opportunity to review it was the southern gothic aspect of it and I’m sad to say that I  was a little disappointed by this portion because I was mostly confused by it.  Closing off this review on a more positive note, the author outdid themselves with the atmosphere. I really enjoyed the scene descriptions throughout this novel. They were vivid and full of summer and fall equally.

If you’re looking for a slow burn atmospheric read then Summer Sons is the novel for you.
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This is a very hard book for me to review. The story line is great. But, the majority of the book is sloooow. Thankfully the end portion of the book makes up for how slow it is.

I was able to listen to this on audio and I'm so thankful for that. I honestly may have DNF'd it otherwise. The audio added a lot to the feel of the story and I really enjoyed the narrator's southern accent.

Through the majority of the book you only gets small parts of the Gothic Horror and Mystery of the story. A lot of it is talking cars (which I like, but didn't feel added as much to the storyline) and trying to get their hands on lost research.

One thing I did love, other than the Mystery and Gothic Horror aspects was how much Queer rep there is. There were so many aspects and people in different stages of their sexuality. I thought this was wonderfully represented and it felt so natural and believable. Probably one of the best portrayals of discovering ones sexuality that I've read in a while. 

I also really enjoyed the feel of the story. I got a lot of Ronan Lynch (Raven Boys) vibes from Andrew and the group. Also a little Adam Parish in the supernatural aspect. I really enjoyed that feeling as The Raven Boys is one of my favorites. So thank you Mandelo for giving me that feeling.

All in all, I would reccomend this one, just go in knowing it's a super slow burn, but the rep and finish line is worth it.

 🔪🔪🔪🩸/5
Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and Netgalley for a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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This was an interesting book but I felt like it was just okay. This book had some good stuff going for it but there was just to much that I didn't like. The constant talk about and use of drugs in this book was just to much for me and is what really made me dislike this book. I don't mind a little bit of that but it was just to present in this book for me. Also the characters felt very dry to me. I just overall couldn't really handle this book. This is definitely a book that could and will be popular.
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Thank you to the publishers, author and NetGalley for the free copy of this audiobook.

This was sooo good. I really wasn't sure what to expect but this just hit so well. Spooky in all the best ways, with some romance and action as well. Narrator was great as well. Definitely would recommend giving this a try!
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4.16 stars
Enjoyability 6/10

Eddie and Andrew have been best friends since childhood and did everything together until Vanderbilt, that is. Although they were both admitted into their program, Eddie started his six months earlier. Just as Andrew is about to join him, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide and leaves Andrew everything he owns, including a gruesome phantom that hungers for him and a deadly mystery with roots in the past.
 
 I struggled to get into the book. The chapters felt so long, and the car racing plot didn't do it for me at all. I am glad I stuck around, though, as at around the 60% mark, Summer Sons became everything I was hoping it would be - atmospheric, fast-paced, deliciously queer, intriguing, scary, tense, and gory.
 
 The story was highly original, I loved the mythology that Mandelo created, and the setting was fantastic! The Southern Gothic vibes gave me the best chills.
 
 While the main characters, especially Andrew, Eddie, and Sam, were fantastic, some characters entered and exited the book without much development. Though their contributions to the plot were crucial, they felt random.
 
 I understand the length of the book is intrinsically connected to Andrew's arc. His coming-of-age story and overall excellent character development benefitted from the slow burn chapters. However, I can't help but think that it would have been phenomenal had this been a novella! A real gothic horror masterpiece. That being said, I still really enjoyed it and recommended it because the third act is pure genius!
 
 
I had the privilege of reading this and listening to it as an audiobook produced by Macmillan Audio from Tordotcom and narrated by Will Damron. I have to say that this production exemplifies the greatness of audiobooks. Yes, I still think the book would have been better without the car parts (preference); but Damron absolutely took the creepy bits and intensified them. I am a scaredy-cat, so I try not to imagine the scariest parts when reading horror, but Damron gave me no choice. I HIGHLY recommend the audiobook to those who enjoy listening to stories. 


 

Disclaimer: I first read it as an ARC. In exchange for an honest review, I am thankful to Macmillan Audio, Tordotcom, Lee Mandelo, and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of Summer Sons.
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Southern gothic horror meets dark academia in this intricately woven narrative of grief, facing your past, uncovering the truth, and coming to terms with who you really are. Summer Sons is the sort of book that creeps up on you and then holds you riveted and breaks you in the best possible way. It's also very queer.

Eddie was Andrew's best friend, more than a brother. But six months ago he left to begin graduate studies at Vanderbilt and became cagy about Andrew joining him. Now he's dead, apparently by suicide, and Andrew is there to pick up the pieces he's inherited. But he doesn't believe Eddie would have killed himself and is determined to retrace his steps and uncover what really happened.

But Andrew and Eddie share a dark secret that haunted them for years. And Andrew is quite literally being haunted by a ghostly presence, but he refuses to think about that piece of his past. Much like he refuses to admit that his feelings for Eddie went far beyond friendship. But the people he encounters in Nashville slowly begin to break down his walls, even as his taking up Eddie's graduate research speeds him toward dangerous answers.

This book intrigued me from the very beginning, but it really burrowed its way under my skin. If you're expecting something that is full of intense horror and paced like a thriller, you aren't going to get it. Rather the horror elements creep up on you and are inextricably linked to how we come to understand the characters.

And this does a beautiful job of driving home that the true horrors to be found in the American South include assumed heteronormativity and a racist past and present. Andrew wrestles with his internalized homophobia and intense grief and anger. A Black side character faces discriminatory treatment in a mostly white academic department and old plantation houses become sites of horror in more ways than one.

I really ended up loving this and had so many feelings following Andrew's journey. The audio narration is fantastic and completely nails the creepy southern vibe. I received an audio review copy via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Note that this book includes violence, gore, occult rituals, drug use, and some explicit sexual content, as well as dealing with grief etc.
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This book is a rare gem that should be devoured by all lovers of horror or gothic supernatural tales. 

Lee Mandelo has done something entirely unique with this novel. I have seen it called a queer southern gothic, and that is a title it well deserves, but it is also just an impressive piece of literature. 

The story unfolds after a mysterious death leads Andrew to investigate what really happened to his friend. Forced to face his past and deal with his own feelings about himself, and his friend, Andrew's greatest fear might not be dealing with the ghosts he sees and instead coming to terms with the love he had for his best friend. 

Folklore and family secrets propel this story into the realm of the supernatural that will leave you checking under your bed at night. The only part that I had a hard time understanding was the street racing, but the author explains its connections to the story well, I just personally couldn't relate and those sections felt a bit underwhelming compared to the rest. 

I really enjoyed this one and I highly recommend it.
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Overall: 3.5. this book was reaaaally hard for me to rate and comes down to personal taste>quality.

so i never read books of this genre, but ~queer gothic~ ofc i’m gonna be curious! i will say i tuned out of about 45% of this story because i found all the action to be boring. i much prefer romance & character interactions to action, which this book has very little of; however, the little bits of romance and character development given were FANTASTIC. like seriously, this book gave me in 10 pages what so many books fail completely at, which is a charismatic, electric romance paired with a complicated backstory of dead lovers, and an unresolved toxic poly trio that has a beautiful two-page-long climax. 

This book does beautiful things with grief and loss, original character voice, gothic tones, and suspense. Had it had more character building and romance this definitely would’ve been a 5 star read for me. Highly recommend picking this up for anybody who is interested by this review!

Also: the audiobook added *so much* to the overall atmosphere. The narrator has a really distinct southern drawl that is nice to listen to and adds greatly to the vibes. If you like audiobooks, you don’t want to miss this one.

As for TWs, i don’t pay attention to them normally as I don’t list them in reviews, so I don’t have a complete list; however I wanted to note there are mentions of slavery and racism both past and present, and some of the horror plots take place on a plantation.
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This book delivered everything I could have wanted from the taglines and blurbs. Tamsyn Muir & Alix E Harrow right. All the rumors are true, etc. Preorder this one stat.

If you have ever gotten a Richard Siken poem stuck in your head, drop everything and read this immediately. If you liked Neutral Milk Hotel or Bright Eyes in high school, sorry, it’s an autobuy. If Halloween is your favorite holiday, you’re done for. If you loved the Outsiders in middle school or had more than one tub of Manic Panic in your day, you guessed it - straight to check out.

The language is so rich and darkly playful. It’s heavy without being dense. And the longing!!! The yearning! The quiet, boiling angst. Ugh, this one really hits you the chest. Lee Mandelo did everything right beyond my wildest. 

The narration feels a little overdone at first but I sped it up to 1.25x and found it much more natural. His voice also, um, lends itself to the culmination of some slow burn tension.
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I read a physical of this but this audio is also a great way to enjoy this dark and mysterious tale of southern boys in a gothic setting that mixes horror with queer elements perfectly.
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I had no expectations going into this book but WOW I can say that I really loved it.
I was lucky enough to listen to the audio and the narrator was a perfect choice with the southern touch to the voice really helped add to the southern atmosphere.
While the story itself is light on the horror aspect and it does take it a second to get going, I think once Mandelo finds his rhythm, the story comes easy, though the ending felt a little rushed.
The core surrounds Eddie and Andrew's relationship after an apparent suicide takes Eddie from Andrew too early, but Andrew thinks that there is more here,
The atmosphere is gritty southern gothic mixed with dark academia with a queer twist. The focal point being the relationship between Eddie and Andrew's relationship that almost was. Mandelo shows how complicated queer relationships can be without ever giving anything a hard label, and instead showed characters who were still figuring out who they were and the type of person they wanted to be with rather than the gender of the person they wanted to be with. 
This story made me feel things and even though it was definitely a slow burn, I was so caught up with the characters that I really didn't mind that. Again, the ending felt a little bit rushed, but I overall loved this story and I would recommend and I honestly could read it again soon.
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Amazing debut! The diverse cast really put this one over the top for me. I enjoyed the representation as well as the plot. Equal parts character and plot driven, Lee definitely knows how to end a chapter so you are forced to keep reading. Highly recommend.
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Thank you to Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for an AudioARC in exchange for an honest review.

Summer Sons brings us a southern gothic in which Andrew is looking for answers after the death of his best friend, Eddie. Eddie went off to school without Andrew and supposedly committed suicide not long before Andrew was set to join him. What will Andrew discover with the help of Eddie's roommate, Riley, and Riley's cousin, Sam? And what secrets which were thought to be buried will boil to the surface?

4.5 stars rounded down to 4. This was a great read and was unexpected in all the turns. The pacing of the story is the only piece that really tripped for me and kept me from giving this 5 stars. While the characters are excellent and the mood spooky, I wish there had been more about the spooks. This truly didn't feel like there was a supernatural element until the end, and it shocked me simply because I had convinced myself the supernatural elements were all in Andrew's head. The last 30% really make this novel though and I'm so pleased I was allowed to review it. The southern feel is sold with the southern drawl the narrator has and it helped submerge me into that world. It was spectacular, mad props to the narrator.

I recommend this to those 15+ for explicit material, and those who like a slow burn story. Be patient with Andrew and his process of investigation and you'll find it all worth while.
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Andrew & Eddie were closer than brothers until Eddie took off to graduate school without Andrew. Six months later he’s dead & Andrew is in town coming to the conclusion that he didn’t know Eddie at all.
 
There’s a family curse, an entity trying to get into Andrew, nightmares, blood rituals & murder. Dark academia.

There’s fast cars, hot guys, a thrilling mystery & one massively repressed protagonist. Mt Vesuvius eventually erupts in pretty graphic splendor. HOORAY! 

TW - There’s adult language & situations, drugs & alcohol. 

Thank you NetGalley & Macmillan Audio! Great book!! 

(I think NetGalley left off the LGBTQ+ part on the audiobook, it just says, sci fi fantasy)
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Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo is exactly what I was looking for in a spooky fall read. I loved the premise of Southern Gothic mixed with the college atmosphere and the street racing. The characters and representation were excellent. I liked seeing Andrew's character step into Eddie's life and try to piece it together while dealing with his own problems. I do feel like grief could have been tackled in more depth, which in turn would have connected me more with Andrew as a character. I loved Sam and Riley! I thought they were juxtaposed really well and I could understand their motivations. 

 I thought the actual writing was very easy to read while still being vivid and interesting. I finished the entire book in two days. The build up to the climax and reveals were well paced and while I figured out the mystery pretty early on, I still enjoyed getting to it. I wanted more of the paranormal towards the end and maybe even more of the history of Eddie's family. I still really liked the book overall.

The narrator was pretty good as well. Some of the accents bothered me a little bit but at the same time they added to the story's charms.
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I requested this one because it might be a 2021 title I would like to review on my Youtube Channel. However, after reading the first several chapters I have determined that this book does not suit my tastes. So I decided to DNF this one rather than push myself to finish the digital copy on my phone only to give it a poor review.
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I did not enjoy this narration and stopped listening before finishing the book.  The narrator's accent felt contrived and awkward (it gave me a similar vibe to Jodi Foster in Silence of the Lambs, which ruined the movie for me) and after a while, I stopped listening.  I would be likely to pick up this book in print, however, once it is released.
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Summer Sons is the queer, haunting, sensual, and grief-shot southern Gothic dark academia that I didn’t know I needed as much as I did. Mandelo’s prose is gorgeous and thoughtful and this book has some of my favorite depictions of grief, masculinity, and sexual discovery that I’ve read in a long time. It’s a thrilling and fascinating read the whole way through and it’s entirely deserving of its beautiful cover. You don’t want to miss this one and I would suggest experiencing Summer Sons through audiobook if you can—it’s the last step to make this story come truly alive.
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I went into this book not really knowing what it was about and it was SO GOOD.  Southern gothic, dark academia, with street racing. Someone dies (murder?) and dumb boys are figuring out their shit, it was just all of the things that I didn't even know I wanted to be reading about.
This comes out at the end of September, which is just perfect timing, because it is a perfect book for spooky season.
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