BLACK DOG SUMMER by Miranda Sherry


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A bright summer morning in the South African bush darkens suddenly as the inhabitants of an animal sanctuary are brutally cut down by machete-wielding men in this debut from a Johannesburg-based novelist.

The massacre leaves Sally's spirit drifting away from her body but unable to leave the Earth. She's pulled inexorably toward the eternal humming of all the stories of Africa, old and new. Unable to rest until her own tale is told, Sally’s spirit pushes inside her family members' bodies, seeing through their eyes the aftermath of grief, remembering through their lives her own past. As Sally’s spirit wanders, a nightmare of long making and shattering resonance unfolds. Sally’s death leaves her only daughter, Gigi, orphaned; Sally’s sister, Adele, reluctantly takes her in. Adele’s 11-year-old daughter, Bryony, resents sharing her bedroom with her cousin, and Gigi’s refusal to get out of bed, choosing instead to drug herself into a dull twilight sleep, doesn’t help matters. While she sleeps, Adele’s family struggles to sidestep the tectonic shift in their lives. The pre-existing rift between Adele and her husband, Liam, widens. As Adele tries to honor her obligation to her niece, Liam is wracked with a bone-deep grief that his wife can't fathom. But when the tranquilizers run out and Gigi returns to life, the nightmare deepens, rage percolates, and the horrors of what happened to Sally wait patiently to erupt. Sherry’s novel fairly vibrates with tension. Why did Adele banish Sally from her home? Why did Sally then exile herself to the dangerous hinterlands? What horrors did Gigi witness? Why can Lesedi, the carefully circumspect sangoma, or healer, next door, see Sally’s spirit? And why do shadows and ominous black dogs suddenly lurk at the edges of Bryony’s world?

A hauntingly beautiful tale from a writer to watch.

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4767-7902-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2014


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