Pages: 320 pages
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Publication Date: July 26th, 2016
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.
GUYS. This book was amazing.
It’s kind of funny because when I read the blurb for this book, all I read was that the Devil comes to this Southern USA town and I knew I wanted to read it. I don’t read blurbs often so I didn’t read the rest, but just that one or two sentences was enough for me.
But the book is about so much more than that. It’s about a loss of innocence. It’s about families and communities and friendship and sibling relationships and romantic relationships. It covers race issues and LGBT issues and even different than usual psychological issues. And the book does them all WELL. It does not overload you with content, it has a really nice balance.
The characters in this book are absolutely so well written. Many times throughout the novel I found it impossible to believe that she was a debut author because this was so well written. Sal, Fielding, Grand, his parents, Elohim, all of them were just so fleshed out. They were complex and complicated, filled with so many feelings and backstories and conflict, and yet they were simple. Prone to human desires and human feelings that everyone feels. Throughout the novel it was hard to see who the villain was. There were obvious villains, but there were moments where I questioned who was bad and who was good. But then I realized that that was the brilliance of the way the author wrote these characters, they were human, they were flawed and could be both bad and good.
I loved the setting of the story. I loved this small southern town where it was incredibly hot all summer. There were times when just the descriptions of the heat made me feel like I was experiencing it with them. I could picture this town and all its inhabitants perfectly because it was a simple, yet elaborate, setting.
Overall, there’s just not enough praise I could give this book. I may have had problems with the book, if I did I honestly don’t remember them as by the end I completely had forgotten them. If I had issues, they clearly weren’t important. This book broke my heart. It made me feel angry, upset, and even, although rarely, happy. I feel like I lived through this book with the characters and that’s not a small thing for me to say. As a debut novel this is amazing, as a novel in general this is still amazing. Tiffany McDaniel definitely has a reader in me for life because I just loved everything about this book so much.