3-d cover imageI’ve been looking for a while for a certain type of book.  One that plays out in my head as I read it, seeing the characters and their actions. One that is quirky and engaging and I want to just sit and read so I can finish it and know what happens.  One that makes me think about the human condition.  One that I can’t wait to recommend to people who appreciate a book that isn’t on the NYT best seller list, but is certainly more entertaining to me than some from that list. I’ve found it in Tiffany McDaniel’s  The Summer that Melted Everything. 

From the book summary:

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.


Although set in 1984, I also pictured some earlier time. Breathed, Ohio is not unlike a number of small southern towns, especially in the early part of the 20th century.These boys were not inside watching Wrestlemania and playing Atari, like so many of the older kids I knew in that timeframe.   But 1984 did fit well. When it mattered, the descriptions of the characters were spot on for the era.  The fears and social mores fit as well.  It was the height of the Moral Majority, and that mindset defined a number of people’s reactions to social issues, and intentional or not, you can see that influence in this book. I can’t say more without potentially spoiling part of the story, but if you were alive during that time, you’ll understand exactly what I mean.


What worked well in this story, and what drew me in, was the idea of a Devil in the midst. But this is not a devil of the bible.  Certainly, there are nuances of it. Lucifer’s fall from grace is well documented, after all. But this devil is deeper, more human, more empathetic than one would imagine. And there is the crux of the story.  If Sal is the devil, responsible for anything bad happening in Breathed, then how on earth can the townspeople explain their own actions in how they treat others and Sal?  Is the idea of the devil a convenient scapegoat for those dark parts of ourselves that, if we are not careful, release our most base, evil behaviors? Is the devil really nothing more than a reflection of the parts of ourselves we like the least?  And if we allow that mindset to take control of our actions and words, what horror may we bring in our lives and the lives of others?


Each chapter of the book begins with Fielding in the present, then bleeds back into the past. Sometimes the transitions are very subtle, and it took me a minute to adjust, but it also makes sense as we learn more about Fielding and who he is now.


I really liked this book.  I liked that it made me think. I liked that it brought out emotion in me.  I liked that I wanted to know what happens next and  that I was a little sad that it was over.  The readers I think will most appreciate this book are people who liked To Kill A Mockingbird, Catfish Alley, and The Testament.  I wouldn’t pick this one for a light hearted beach read, but for literary fiction fans wanting something to sink their teeth in, this is a great one.


The Summer That Melted Everything was released on 26 July.


Here’s a little about the author, Tiffany McDaniel:

An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel.               

You can learn more Tiffany at her website:


Here’s the Goodreads link to the novel:



Stay tuned- Tiffany has agreed to an author Q and A, and that will be coming soon.


I received an ARC of the book to read in exchange for an honest review.