It’s 1998 in Hooperstown, New Jersey and people are getting sick. Some citizens blame the local chemical plant. A select few believe something far more terrifying is responsible, a dreadful force that causes nightmarish visions and aberrant illnesses. Bad things are blooming in Hooperstown, and the stench of death is growing stronger…
Standing on the edge of summer break after the longest last day of eighth grade ever, Doug Simms and his two best friends join a group of older kids for an all-night scavenger hunt. It’s supposed to be a celebration, an evening of fun and freedom. But what happens that night will change their summer in the darkest ways imaginable. And not just their summer…but their entire lives.
MALIGNANT SUMMER is a coming-of-age epic where innocence is lost and the path through adolescence is painful. Where dreamscapes merge with reality. Where love seems possible, and the best season feels like it can last forever
Title: Malignant Summer Author: Tim Meyer | Publisher: Silver Shamrock | Pub. Date: 01 June 2021 | Pages: 625 | ASIN: B08WKNFNZG | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Source: Publisher | Content Warnings after review | Starred Review
Malignant Summer Review
…time and pain could be strange like that. The brain has a funny way of flushing those moments of physical agony. It’s not until one finds themselves deep inside the experience again that they remember how much it hurt.Tim Meyer, Malignant Summer
Door stoppers. Big books. Tomes. Malignant Summer is a long book; a summertime read that evokes lugging around 500+ page book one might normally not have the time to read. Tim Meyer’s newest offering definitely has heft; moreover, it has an addictive pull which makes it read just as quickly as a novella. A deft exploration of a small town, the kids who rule summer, and old horrors made new, Malignant Summer is an exceptional read.
It’s the late 90s and friends Doug, Grady, Jessie, Maddie, Jimmy (and more) are looking forward to the promise of summer. Much like Stephen King’s IT or Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life, there is a large cast of characters. Meyer handles this well and as he build the story, he fleshes out each character. There are NO large info dumps and he includes a diverse array of people and life experiences.
There are quintessential “baddies” and of course we have the “good group”, refreshingly, though, each character blurs those lines in certain ways. These are people feel real in that sometimes the lines between “good and bad” aren’t stark or cookie cutter. From Doug and his Dad, Gordon, to Jimmy and Jesse, and later, Jewel, there is a character for everyone to relate to in this book.
While endearing these kids to the reader, Meyer also undertakes the massive task of bringing Hooperstown, New Jersey to life; warts and all. Some readers may find the 90s references to be a little much (there are a lot), but once the story really gets involved, these tend to be filtered out a bit. Like any small town (in fiction or otherwise), the oft called “seedy underbelly” is there if one just knows where to look. In this case, the author weaves this into the fabric of the story.
Readers can expect to make most of their discoveries as the main characters themselves begin to unravel what is happening to their town and why. This is effective and really causes the reader to be enveloped in the world created. This investment is one of the reasons why dinner might burn on the stove, and why readers might look up and find 300 pages have flown by in what felt like no time at all.
And of course, expect scenes of abject terror. Meyer really knows how to turn a phrase, or rather, turn a stomach. As the synopsis states, “…bad things are blooming in Hooperstown…” and, for lack of a better way to say it, sh*t gets real. From the sudden illnesses to “Mother”, for every bit of world-building and great characterization, there exists plenty of horror and mayhem sure to satisfy all kinds of readers. This isn’t just a “big book”, it’s an experience; an event not to be missed.
You can purchase a copy of this book via your normal retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. It may be found here at Indiebound or at BookShop in a few days (it is not listed yet). Please note the Bookshop link is an affiliate link and each purchase you make through it helps to support Sci-Fi & Scary and keep the site running.
Tracy joined Sc-Fi and Scary in September 2018. She reviews horror books for the site and bemoans our general lack of grammar, but puts up with us because she loves us anyway. Feel free to reach out on Twitter and Instagram at @tracy_reads79, or on Goodreads as well!
Tracy is also part of the Ladies of Horror Fiction crew.
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