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Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: The year a heatwave scorched the small town of Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

When local prosecutor Autopsy Bliss publishes an invitation to the devil to come to the country town of Breathed, Ohio, nobody quite expects that he will turn up. They especially don’t expect him to turn up as a tattered and bruised thirteen-year-old boy.

Fielding, the son of Autopsy, finds the boy outside the courthouse and brings him home, and he is welcomed into the Bliss family. The Blisses believe the boy, who calls himself Sal, is a runaway from a nearby farm town. Then, as a series of strange incidents implicate Sal — and riled by the feverish heat wave baking the town from the inside out — there are some around town who start to believe that maybe Sal is exactly who he claims to be.

But whether he’s a traumatised child or the devil incarnate, Sal is certainly one strange fruit: he talks in riddles, his uncanny knowledge and understanding reaches far outside the realm of a normal child, and ultimately his eerily affecting stories of Heaven, Hell, and earth will mesmerise and enflame the entire town.

Devastatingly beautiful, The Summer That Melted Everything is a captivating story about community, redemption, and the dark places where evil really lies.


'Tiffany McDaniel’s The Summer That Melted Everything is a wonderfully original, profoundly unsettling, deeply moving novel that delivers both the shock of fully realized reality and the deep resonance of parable. This is a remarkable debut by a splendid young writer.’
— Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

'Sometimes there is a novel so strange and beguiling it makes you give up your world for another world, all the while that you are reading it. Such a story is Tiffany McDaniel’s tale of an enchanted boy — who might be the devil — welcomed into a family with no right to their name, Bliss. It will frighten you, and charm you, and break your heart if you allow it ... and you will allow it, because once this world has hold of you, it won’t let you go.'
— Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author The Deep End of the Ocean (the very first Oprah Book Club selection) and Two if by Sea

Reviews

Bold and surprising . . . this story of a family and community incorporates global warming, AIDS, discrimination, fear, mass hysteria, lynching, and martyrdom, but in the end is a love story, warning us not to be too quick in judging what is evil and what is good

Robert Morgan, New York Times bestselling author of Gap Creek

Sometimes there is a novel so strange and beguiling it makes you give up your world for another world . . . Such a story is Tiffany McDaniel’s tale of an enchanted boy – who might be the devil – welcomed into a family with no right to their name, Bliss. It will frighten you, and charm you, and break your heart

Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean

A blast of hellfire, humor, and heartbreak that’s part Flannery O’Connor, part Stephen King, and wholly original

Lou Berney, author of The Long and Farway Gone

Wonderfully original, profoundly unsettling, deeply moving. This is a remarkable debut by a splendid young writer

Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

Sometimes a book comes along that is so good that it defies all descriptions, but I'll give it a shot anyway: Tiffany McDaniel's astounding and heartbreaking The Summer That Melted Everything reads as if Carson McCullers and Shirley Jackson got together with Nathaniel Hawthorne in some celestial backwater and decided to write the first truly great gothic coming-of-age novel of the twenty-first century. There, I said it. Now read it.

Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff and The Devil All the Time

It is rare that a narrative makes me question my own beliefs. This book did that very thing. A fine story with a message about truth, trust, family, and the dangers of the devils among us.

Suzanne Palmieri, author of The Witch of Bourbon Street

‘In this bold and surprising debut novel, Tiffany McDaniel reveals a new voice in contemporary fiction. At times comic, at times heartbreaking, The Summer That Melted Everything, moves between the future and the past, and gives us a window on a particular time, the hell-hot summer of 1984, and a group of characters George Orwell could not have imagined. In this world nothing is quite what it seems, as mystery and revelation alternate, right up to the end. At times surreal, magical, this story of a family and community incorporates global warming, AIDS, discrimination, fear, mass hysteria, lynching, and martyrdom, but in the end is a love story, warning us not to be too quick in judging what is evil and what is good.’

Robert Morgan, New York Times bestselling author of Gap Creek (an Oprah Book Club Selection)

The Summer That Melted Everything is a blast of hellfire, humor, and heartbreak that’s part Flannery O’Connor, part Stephen King, and wholly original.

Lou Berney, author of The Long and Faraway Gone

A wondrous debut of a novel. Imagine To Kill a Mockingbird, seen through the eyes of Neil Gaiman. McDaniel’s prose is rich and magical, full of passages of exquisite, strange beauty that ache with bitter truths and old sorrows. You'll not read anything else like it.

James Sie, author of Still Life Las Vegas

There’s more than an echo of To Kill a Mockingbird here … though Fielding’s journey from innocence to experience is a whole lot darker than Scout’s … Atmosphere is key when it comes to southern gothic, and the summer heat licks like hellfire through McDaniel’s pages … The Summer That Melted Everything is a genuinely unnerving, deliciously dark tale of the evil that lies in ordinary people.

The Independent

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9781925321302

    August 1, 2016

    Scribe Publications

    320 pages

    RRP $29.99

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