Hi everyone, I hope you’re well! Summer is well and truly in swing here and I’ve been reading some really great books recently that are perfect for the season! One of those is the aptly titled Summer’s Edge by Dana Mele which I was so lucky to read as part of the TBR & Beyond Tours book tour – though I did end up picking up the audiobook instead! I’m sure you know the deal by now, but if not, click on the banner below to check out the other exciting posts for the tour and keep reading to hear my thoughts!
Title: Summer’s Edge
Author: Dana Mele
Genre: Horror, LGBT+, Young Adult
Synopsis: I Know What You Did Last Summer meets The Haunting of Hill House in this atmospheric, eerie teen thriller following an estranged group of friends being haunted by their friend who died last summer.
Emily Joiner was once part of an inseparable group—she was a sister, a best friend, a lover, and a rival. Summers without Emily were unthinkable. Until the fire burned the lake house to ashes with her inside.
A year later, it’s in Emily’s honor that Chelsea and her four friends decide to return. The house awaits them, meticulously rebuilt. Only, Chelsea is haunted by ghostly visions. Loner Ryan stirs up old hurts and forces golden boy Chase to play peacemaker. Which has perfect hostess Kennedy on edge as eerie events culminate in a stunning accusation: Emily’s death wasn’t an accident. And all the clues needed to find the person responsible are right here.
As old betrayals rise to the surface, Chelsea and her friends have one night to unravel a mystery spanning three summers before a killer among them exacts their revenge.
Content warnings: murder, blood, references to (past) suicidal ideations and involuntary admission to a psychiatric hospital, trauma related to the death of a friend, a description of a dead animal (a rabbit), references to drowning, poisoning, fire, fear of sharks, and falling.
Summer’s Edge is a really hard book to pin down – it’s a thriller. though there are definitely some scarier more horror-like moments, as well as having a really interesting paranormal element to the book. The story is told through three perspectives – the first follows Chelsea who is narrating how her friends have met back up at the newly refurbished lake house a year after the tragic death of one of their friends, Emily. The second follows Kennedy – Chelsea’s ex-girlfriend and the self-proclaimed hostess of the group – as she tells of previous summers spent at the lake house. And the final perspective is that of Emily herself and takes place the summer of her death.
I was really excited to pick up this book as I own Dana Mele’s previous novel, People Like Us – another sapphic thriller – though I have yet to pick it up, and I was intrigued by the prospect of getting to read another summery, creepy, sapphic horror story as I’ve really been enjoying them recently! I really enjoyed the first section of the book told through Chelsea’s perspective. I think it set the tone of the novel really well and I felt really drawn into the story, excited to find out what had really happened to Emily, who was lying, and who was keeping secrets.
The second third of the story, told in Kennedy’s perspective, however, threw me out of the story a little bit. This could have been my own fault as I did accidentally fall asleep during this section of the audiobook (not the audiobook’s fault, I just can’t focus on them without doing something else at the same time, e.g. crocheting – it was my own fault!) and had to rewind to catch back up, but the supernatural elements that were introduced here didn’t convince me at the time.
The final third of the book, told by Emily herself, was really interesting and, although I didn’t like Emily as a character (though all the characters are morally grey and not the nicest of people), I was so intrigued by her thought process and actions and I think that the twist at the end worked really well and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it!
Though I did really enjoy the book overall – and think that one of its greatest strengths is that it is a thriller that can easily be read several times to pick up on everything that happened – I did have a couple of personal issues with the book that I want to mention, but that I’m sure will be nothing to other readers. First of all, I went into this really expecting a sapphic horror. Emphasis on sapphic. But for the longest amount of time Kennedy and Chelsea were harbouring no feelings for each other, and I understand that we need a variety of sapphic books, not just ones with relationships featured in them but also ones that are messy and with breakups, but we’re not at that stage yet – there are still so few sapphic books out there – and I just felt a bit let down in that regard (though when they were together, I loved them!). Secondly, the whole plot point revolving around the tarot cards. I read tarot and I really enjoy it, but the descriptions that were attached to the cards in the book – though related to the characters depicted themselves – were not relevant to the meanings of those specific cards. Depictions of the cards vary deck by deck, but the meanings do not and it just read really weirdly to me. If you’re going to use them in a book merely for the aesthetic, at least do the tiniest amount of research beforehand!
That being said, this was a really exciting read that challenged me and exceeded my expectations. Though it did have a couple of downfalls, I am really glad that I read it and I can definitely see a re-read happening in the future!
About the Author:
Dana Mele is a Pushcart-nominated writer based in the Catskills. A graduate of Wellesley College, Dana holds degrees in theatre, education, and law. Dana’s debut, PEOPLE LIKE US, was published in 2018 and shortlisted for the 2019 ITW Thriller Award for Best Young Adult Novel. A second YA thriller, SUMMER’S EDGE, is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster in Spring 2022, followed by TRAGIC, a graphic novel retelling of Hamlet from Legendary Comics.