You’ll never go in the water again!
Like haunted houses, deep-sea horror is a sub-genre that a lot of horror writers seem to flirt with at some point in their career. A lot of great authors have made it their entire career and, at this point, it feels like one of those subjects where there is little fresh ground to tread.
Enter Wesley Southard…
Melissa has decided that a vacation with sun, sea and sand is just what is needed to mend her broken relationship with her abusive boyfriend, Hoyt. With her twelve-year-old son, Patrick, in tow, the trio set off on a week-long stay in Florida where she hopes to forget her troubles and fix her family. It is not long until Hoyt devolves into his pattern of abuse and, after taking his anger out on Patrick and Melissa, a terrible accident unwittingly unleashes a much greater evil.
Haunted by terrible visions and stalked by a nightmarish creature that declares itself a god, Melissa finds herself a target of an unspeakable evil, aeons old and with a desire to destroy mankind, starting with her and her family. Will Melissa submit to these unfathomably ancient forces, or is she done being a victim?
Fans of Steve Alten or Hunter Shea will find a lot to love here. Mixing aquatic monster mayhem with Greek mythology to create something simultaneously familiar but with a fun twist, if you’re in this for the man versus nature showdown, then you’ll get that in spades. The action, once it gets going, is inventive, gory, and massive in scale.
As you may expect from Wesley Southard, Cruel Summer isn’t satisfied with just being a big fun creature feature and his penchant for the weird, bordering on bizarro is present, albeit far more restrained than his previous books. Some set pieces have a surreal, nightmarish quality to them, and it gives the whole book a sense of unpredictability. The grand finale is especially chaotic and it works incredibly well, delivering unique twists on well-worn tropes within the popular deep-sea horror genre.
A big reason this works as well as it does is that the big action set pieces and bigger body count are all grounded in a very personal tale of a mother navigating an abusive relationship whilst trying to care for her son. Melissa is a complex and sympathetic lead, full of strength and resilience, yet seemingly powerless to end a cycle of poor decisions. The bond between her and Patrick is the heart of the book, and you find yourself desperately wanting both to make it out of the book unscathed so that they can begin to take steps to mend their fractured relationship.
Deftly mixing a classic gut-munching creature feature with a serious, often painfully real family drama, all told with the trademark Wesley Southard skew, Cruel Summer is a big, bold horror extravaganza with heart. Do not read before you go swimming!
Cruel Summer by Wesley Southard
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Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Gods never really stay dead―they only lie in wait. And when a beast as old as time discovers Hoyt…he, too, won’t stay gone for long. The nights grow darker, the water flows colder, and the cruelty of summer lives on.
DescriptionMelissa Braun is a broken woman. Only wanting what’s best for her family, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to mend her fractured relationship with her abusive boyfriend. In a last ditch effort, she hopes the sun and sand of a much-needed Florida vacation will bring them and her son closer together. Patrick Braun is a demoralized kid. Quiet and sullen, he only wants his mother to see her boyfriend’s torment as it cripples everything he loves. After years of silence, he refuses to stand by and let the abuse continue to tear them apart. Hoyt Rainey is a vile man. Unable to keep his hands to himself, he finally takes his anger one step too far. Only this time he finds himself on the receiving end of his own punishment. Down and down he goes, plunging deeper into the dark blue abyss of the sea. Melissa and Patrick finally believe they are safe, the trouble now behind them for good. They are wrong. Gods never really stay dead―they only lie in wait. And when a beast as old as time discovers Hoyt…he, too, won’t stay gone for long. The nights grow darker, the water flows colder, and the cruelty of summer lives on.
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