Last Week on Inked Brownies

Review: The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel


Expected publication: July 26th, 2016 by St. Martin’s Press

What a housebound woman fears is not the knife in the kitchen drawer. It is the outside being better.

Holy shit, this book is SO intense…Goodreads Blurb (4)Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he’s welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he’s a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.Goodreads Blurb (3)This book is mostly set in the ’80’s.
I grew up in the ’80’s. I still love everything from the ’80’s: the music, the TV series, the movies. Probably because it all reminds me of my childhood, though. Everything regarding the ’80’s seems to be a big pink cloud of fluffiness in my memory. You know how old people say “Back in my time, everything used to be so much better!”. Heck, I already started saying that ten years ago, referring back to those wonderful ’80’s. This book was a massive wake-up call, making me remember again that it wasn’t all unicorns farting rainbows. Racism, when it comes to people with a different skin colour. Discrimination, when it comes to people who fall in love with someone from the same sex. Ignorance. AIDS. INTOLERANCE.

Obviously, this doesn’t simply restrict itself to the ’80’s. It’s just astounding how one can block out all of that darkness, and focus on the light as if the darkness never existed. Especially while it’s usually the other way around when it comes to human psychology! Only while (and after) reading this book, did I think again of movies such as Philadelphia  (1993), which is inspired by the life of a real attorney who got fired after his employer found out he had AIDS in 1987.
Another movie, Boys Don’t Cry (1999) was based on a transgender man who was raped and murdered by two male acquaintances in December 1993. I can never watch either of these two movies without crying or balling my hands into fists.

“So what about the damn book, isn’t this supposed to be a review?!”, you might be thinking by now.
The Summer That Melted Everything felt like watching both of these movies, together with, let’s say, American History X. It touches those dark sides like nails scraping a chalkboard.

The story starts off and centres around Sal, a 13-year-old coloured boy with the greenest eyes, who claims he is the Devil himself. He has the scars to prove it, and a use of language which more suits an ancient zen master instead of a 13-year-old boy in frayed overalls. Add the fact that they can’t find the boy’s parents and hence, know shit all about his true identity, and you know it: there’s definitely something off about him. 

Fielding Bliss, the actual protagonist, becomes best friends with this so-called Devil and strange things start to occur. Is it Sal’s fault? Or is it the smothering heat that has been pestering the town of Breathed ever since Sal made his first appearance there?
I didn’t know where this was all going, but I knew one thing: read on I must!

The story is claustrophobic, heart wrenching, and scary at times. Being confronted with the darkest corners of a human’s soul. The language, oh god, the language is so gut-punching and intensively spot on. It’s beautiful and poetic, but with none of that pretentious shit. It just is.

What do you think he looks like?”
“Like a cotton swab, thin and white with too much hair on his head and too much hair on his feet. Wouldn’t that be funny? A cotton swab? Kind of makes ya think twice about stickin’ a Q-tip up your nose, don’t it? Though, thinking ’bout it now, maybe if we left a swab in our ear, we’d start behavin’ differently. Havin’ God inside our ear just might make us all, I don’t know, a little…more.”
“Also make you a little more dead with only one ear whose hearing is not sacrificed by a plug of cotton.

You kind of know a little about what’s going to happen because the story is being told by Fielding as an 80+-year-old, yet you still don’t know anything at all.

The characters are all extremely well developed, each of them struggling with their own demons and angels. Some of them quite dysfunctional like the vegetarian dwarf with vampire teeth, bearing the name of Elohim, the Hebrew word for ‘gods’ or ‘deity’.

We are told it’s a cross, so surely it must be a cross. But what if it isn’t? What if we’re wrong? What if this whole time we’ve just been hanging lowercased t’s on our walls?

Every time I picture Elohim, I have to think of this scene from Twin Peaks (and not just because they are both little people!): tumblr_maz7fl1f4A1rhegvro1_1280While I was reading, I kept feeling like this wasn’t a new book, let alone a book that still needs to be published next week. It wasn’t because of the going back into history; it was because this book feels like it’s a classic. And I think that in 10-20 years from now (I don’t know how much time it takes for a book to be allowed to be called a classic) this book should be considered as one. It should be up there with John Steinbeck and J.D.Salinger. THAT’s how good it is. And let’s not forget this is a fucking debut novel, making it even more impressive!

It’s why it’s definitely getting five brownies from me. It won’t be a book for the tender soul; if you’re expecting a YA plotline, there isn’t one. It’s a deep search into the soul (or spirit as Pearl Kirkby recently reminded me), religion, and all that’s yin and yang. Every chapter opens with a quote from Milton’s Paradise Lost. If you’ve read the poem, you know what kind of story you can expect of The Summer That Melted Everything

As a final note: there’s also a touch of magical realism to the story, which is something that usually annoys me to no end, yet in this book, it works bloody brilliantly.


A big thank you to Tiffany McDaniel for providing me with a copy of her book in exchange for an honest opinion! I’m hoping to do a Q&A with her somewhere around the publication date, so stay tuned!

Links to the book:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
The Book Depository (Dutch Retailer)

About Anne (231 Articles)
Dutch book reviewer who reviews in English. Grammar nazis beware!! I like brownies. And chamomile tea.

42 Comments on Review: The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

  1. hehe, we published our reviews at the same time! 🙂
    I loved this book. I forced me to take a closer look at some issues that are still going too strong these days, it made me wonder about people’s motivations and fears. Massive book hangover! I read it two weeks ago and I feel the characters are still with me. It’s definitely not a light read, but once you’ve started, the writing flows so smoothly that you can’t help but keep reading.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Coincidence….or FATE?! TU DU DUUUN! XD But awesome high fives!. I finished it a couple of days ago and it’s stuck with me ever since as well. I don’t even feel like picking up another book because I’m still so absorbed in this one. The writing is wonderful, indeed sighs. hops over to read yours!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Kindred spirits 😀 It took me a while to pick another book, too. The hiatus helped, I did not feel like diving into another story.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’ve started 3 books by now and I’m like ‘meh’ every time. We’re too spoiled now! 😉 Good that it worked for you! A 2-day hiatus didn’t cut it for me xD

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Literary fiction at its best. Very thoughtful review, good to know you’ve enjoyed it 🙂 The author is lovely, and would love to read this whenever I have a chance.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Awesome.. Ive seen people on Goodreads reading it and I wasn’t sure-sure.. but this review… hell yes, I am going to have to read the book..

    Also massive LOLs for ‘lowercased ts’ 😀 What a quirky ‘theory’…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Also- American History X: there’s a bit in the movie, like 5-10 secs- I still don’t know what happens. Whether it’s shown in the movie very graphically or not… I just don’t know because every time I’ve watched AHX I have squeezed my eyes shut and it’s about the only thing I’ve ever squeezed my eyes shut on…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know EXACTLY which part you mean. I can’t watch it either, I just can’t. But I did so the first time I saw it. And I was in shock for god knows how long afterwards… Just brutal. It’s a good thing I thought Edward Norton was totally hot at the time or I would’ve never wanted to watch anything with him in it again after I saw that particular scene 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I loved this book too! Such an eloquently delivered, heartbreaking story!

    Liked by 2 people

    • A book’s a good book when it stays with you after you’ve finished reading it. I still picture so many scenes of it now every time I close my eyes :). This book deserves all the hype it can get!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I almost feel intimidated. I want to add to my TBR but holy mother of macaroni rhis review scares and excites me! And by the way, the 89s references were spot on!! Extra points points for the nod to Twin Peaks, my favorite! Going to suck it up and add this now. Wowza, what a review!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahaha, well, it’s not a horror or thriller story if that’s any consolation ;D. Thank you so much! ❤ Twin Peaks is da bomb (or rad, whatever slang youngsters use these days)

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Ok so a few typos.. ugh. Sorry working from my phone at the moment. That will teach me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • XD I use my phone for commenting too in the morning and have to really careful because it autocorrects things into Dutch automatically…:’)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. katelynnhillier // 23/07/2016 at 00:19 // Reply

    I mis-read Fielding Bliss as Fucking Bliss and I kind of like it. Which makes me wonder, can you actually name your child a swear word? What if you named them a swear word in another langugage? Scheisse, perhaps? Or Merde? That would be WAY funnier than some of these ridiculous parents calling their children Hashtag or Yolo (Yolo is not confirmed, but apparently Hashtag is).
    This is a great review, and I’m definitely intrigued. I won’t be able to understand a single reference to anything from the 80’s (being born a few years too late) but I don’t think that means I won’t like it. The book trailer also had words like, “neo gothic coming of age story” and as you said, “this needs to be a classic” and I’m definitely in.
    Great review! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol! Using a swear word in another language is totally legit. I know a guy over here who called his kid Bimbo…obviously, they don’t speak English. Or they do and just have a great sense of humour ^_^
      Hahaha, thanks! It doesn’t matter if you don’t get the references because you’ll be too distracted by the story anyways ;). I was a wee one in the 80’s myself and had my teen years in the 90’s, but having a way older sister who was very much into pop culture at the time helped me to suck it all in! I hope you’ll read it to see what you think of it with you being a trusted source when it comes to honest reviews and stuffz!

      Liked by 1 person

      • katelynnhillier // 25/07/2016 at 01:57 // Reply

        HAH! Bimbo.. that’s awesome. Especailly seeing as it isn’t ME with the name Bimbo (phew!).
        I’ma keep it in mind when I’m doing my next big book haul (which should not be for a while because I have far too many books still unread.. So shameful!)

        Liked by 1 person

  9. This book was so amazing! It is the type of book other books aspire to be. It is lyrical, poignant, gripping and so very very dark. Glad to see you enjoyed it as well. Great review. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. (this is me, sittin’ over here in the corner, feelin’ all lonesome n stuff :\ )

    Another 5 brownies?! Wow! Am I the only one (well…not quite THE) who hasn’t read this book??😮😀 Well, it’s on my TBR shelf, anyhow!

    (thanks for the plug😁😚)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, awwe, don’t!! hugs Yes, another 5, but the streak has already ended again. The next 2 books that are up for review are ‘meh’. It’s turning into quite the hype indeed! But this one is definitely worth it 🙂 (yer welcome!)

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Holy crap that sounds amazing! You sure know how to sell a book 😍😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

  12. MakeItUltra™ // 27/07/2016 at 04:09 // Reply

    Hi Anne! I have nominated you for the MakeItUltra™ Blogger Award for quality content, originality and presentation. If you choose to accept please visit for details. If you choose to decline, please take it as a compliment that I have recognized you for your quality work.


  13. Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks // 28/07/2016 at 05:16 // Reply

    Oh my gosh, I agree with EVERYTHING. This book was phenomenally constructed. Just the fact that McDaniel could navigate between two different voices so effortlessly (one for childhood, one for bitter adulthood) was one of the things I really loved about this book. And like you said, this book touches on so many important issues- and despite it being a rather dark, uncomfortable read, it never felt like it was a political or social manifesto. Just a narrative set in a society where a lot of darkness lurked underneath the seemingly-friendly surface. TSTME is definitely my favorite book of the year. Just phenomenal. Loved your review.

    ~ Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment depicted the whole thing better than my entire review! XD. This is definitely in my top 3 of 2016 books so far as well. Magnificent! 🙂 Thank you!


  14. The review of this book, made me think of a song that came to mind while you vaguely explained what this book had to offer.. so weird, yet cool. hmm


    Liked by 1 person

    • Which song was it? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • “Gods and Monsters” by Lana Del Rey, I love her music, actually I am obsessed with her music and her :Phahaha okay maybe not her.. maybe I just like her a lot hahaha

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lana del Rey (and her music) is da shit <3. If I were a lesbian, I’d do her!! xD.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well I am a lesbian and I would do her!!! LOL but since that might be weird to say, and in case she reads this comment: Lana, we could go for a long walk and sip on whatever you like and then lay our heads down.. and .. tell our story through your music!
            I am happy you are a Lana del Rey fan, this means we have something else in common and I must say it is something to be proud of! LOL now I can talk your head off about her! woot woot!

            Liked by 1 person

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  1. BFF (Blog Friends Forever): Inked Brownies | The Belgian Reviewer
  2. Ten Questions for Tiffany McDaniel | Inked Brownies

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