Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo is the queer southern gothic we’ve all been waiting for
Andrew and Eddie were inseparable until recently. When Eddie dies under what Andrew thinks are suspicious circumstances he’s determined to find the truth. He moves into the house Eddie lived in and sets out to discover what happened. He must move fast though… because Eddie is haunting him.
Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo has been one of my most anticipated books for as long as I’ve known about it. I started reading this book the day after it arrived, which is rare for me since it usually takes a good few months to get around to new releases no matter how excited I am for them - I’m a mood reader and it shows.
Straight away I was drawn into a world of dark academia meets southern gothic. It’s definitely more on the gothic side but the academia plays into it as well so I’m calling it the worlds most beautiful mash up haha.
In a nutshell this book is fast cars, drugs, ghosts and the struggle of grief when one half of you dies. Everyone around Andrew thinks Eddie’s death was a suicide but Andrew knows it wasn’t and watching him try to prove it was both riveting and heart breaking.
Andrew was a fantastic protagonist. He was capable, and determined but also vulnerable. As he started to integrate with Eddie’s roommate and friends, and learn the lay of the land he started to open up about his past with Eddie - and let me tell you it takes real talent to make me grieve for a character I’ve never had to chance to get to know before they died but this book accomplished it without fault.
Andew’s emotions were strong, overwhelming forces which Lee Mandelo captured with aching precision. Andrew loved Eddie unconditionally and the sentiment was returned- it’s always hard to read about that kind of relationship through a lens of loss, but seeing how Eddie’s friends came to Andrew’s aid, and how Andrew was able to make new connections while on this path of discovery was heart warming enough to balance out the sense of devastation.
The atmosphere of Summer Sons was dark and haunting, not just because of the writing or the story, but because something Andrew and Eddie experienced when they were young allowed them to see spirits. Eddie haunts Andrew in such a darkly written, intimate manner that even as a shade he is still vibrantly, scarily present throughout the entire book.
The plot itself was very slightly predictable towards the end but it didn’t take away from the enjoyment or intensity at all. The characters drove this book, and while I don’t want to say too much because I think they’re best experienced through reading the book yourself, the romantic relationship that begins to develop is one of my absolute favourites I’ve read this year.
In summary, Summer Sons is a love letter to grief and friendship, missed love and found love, and to queer men. Almost all of the main characters are queer, and I loved every single one of them. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to dip their toe into the darker side of life, or to anyone who already knows they love that genre. I recommend it to anyone who would like to know what Ronan Lynch (main character from The Raven Cycle) would dream up in a book - because this has it all.
This blog post was written by Lauren S. You can follow her reviews on Instagram @hobbitsbooksandbeyond