Book Review: Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry

Black Dog Summer
By Miranda Sherry
Released 2/10/15
Downloaded free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones

I was approached by the publicist for this book to do a review.  The description of this book interested me, although I like to keep things real (not a fan of paranormal), but thought this would be something new.  I did see it compared to The Lovely Bones in a few reviews, which I have not read that either, but a lot of people really enjoyed. I do like the title for unrelated reasons (I love black dogs!) and enjoyed the symbolism of the black dog throughout the book.  Check out my teasers here!

This one review really nailed it for me too:

“A story about murder but not crime, with black magic but no horror, and narrated by a dead woman who is not a ghost, this debut novel is a delightful mix of paradox and melancholy.” (The Sunday Times (South Africa))

The book is narrated by Sally, now dead after her brutal murder.  She is hovering in the “in between” and coasts around checking on her loved ones or following their “threads”.  Much of the focus being on her daughter Gigi, now moved in with her estranged aunt, uncle, and cousins.

As I re-read the book description I pasted below, it is a very detailed one, so I will direct you to that for more information on the characters and story-line and focus more on my opinion.  At times I really like the book, at others not so much, but it was full of secrets, some of which I never saw coming.  The characters were all interesting, no one I really latched onto.  My favorite was probably Bryony, the younger cousin of Gigi.  Her thoughts were just so raw and innocent and drew me into the story more than others.  And the ending was more action packed than I expected with a good solid ending.

Overall a good book, definitely worth my time, just didn’t have the whole package for me personally.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for allowing me to preview!

Book Description:

In this extraordinary debut novel reminiscent of The Lovely Bones and Little Bee, a mother watches from the afterlife as her teenage daughter recovers amidst the startling dysfunction of her extended family.

A small, bright thread of a story weaves out from the moment of my passing and seems to tether me to this place. Perhaps this is why I have not left yet. Perhaps I have no choice but to follow the story to its end.

Compulsively readable and stylistically stunning, Black Dog Summer begins with a murder, a farmstead massacre, in the South African bush. Thirty-eight-year-old Sally is but one of the victims. Her life brutally cut short, she narrates from her vantage point in the afterlife and watches as her sister, Adele, her brother-in-law and unrequited love Liam, her niece Bryony, and her teenage daughter, Gigi, begin to make sense of the tragedy.

A suspenseful drama focusing on marriage and fidelity, sisterhood, and the fractious bond between mothers and daughters, Black Dog Summer asks: In the wake of tragedy, where does all that dark energy linger? The youngest characters, Bryony and Gigi, cousins who are now brought together after Sally’s murder, are forced into sharing a bedroom. Bryony becomes confused and frightened by the violent energy stirred up and awakened by the massacre, while Gigi is unable to see beyond her deep grief and guilt. But they are not the only ones aware of the lurking darkness. Next door lives Lesedi, a reluctant witchdoctor who hides her mystical connection with the dead behind the façade of their affluent Johannesburg suburb.

As Gigi finally begins to emerge from her grief, the fragile healing process is derailed when she receives some shattering news, and in a mistaken effort to protect her cousin, puts Bryony’s life in imminent danger. Now Sally must find a way to prevent her daughter from making a mistake that could destroy the lives of all who are left behind.

Gorgeously written, with a pace that will leave readers breathless, Black Dog Summer introduces a brilliant new voice in fiction.

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