Reviews

‘Summer’s Edge’: an eerie YA lake house thriller (that left me with mixed feelings)

May 30, 2022

TITLE: Summer’s Edge
AUTHOR: Dana Mele
GENRE: Thriller
AGE RANGE: YA
PAGES: 336pg
PUBLISHER: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Emily Joiner was once part of an inseparable group—she was a sister, a best friend, a lover, and a rival. Summers without Emily were unthinkable. Until the fire burned the lake house to ashes with her inside.

A year later, it’s in Emily’s honor that Chelsea and her four friends decide to return. The house awaits them, meticulously rebuilt. Only, Chelsea is haunted by ghostly visions. Loner Ryan stirs up old hurts and forces golden boy Chase to play peacemaker. Which has perfect hostess Kennedy on edge as eerie events culminate in a stunning accusation: Emily’s death wasn’t an accident. And all the clues needed to find the person responsible are right here.

As old betrayals rise to the surface, Chelsea and her friends have one night to unravel a mystery spanning three summers before a killer among them exacts their revenge.

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The problem is that the living and the dead aren’t meant to mix.
The problem is that I think the line has begun to blur.

Summer’s Edge was pitched to me as “The Haunting of Hill House meets I Know What You Did Last Summer“, and let me start off by saying that’s actually an excellent pair of comps for this title. The book has the same “secret individual seeks revenge for a death with a suspicious story” vibes as the latter, with the bizarre, topsy-turvy feel of the former, all set in a lake house that often feels as though it has a mind of its own. If you’re looking for an eerie YA thriller/horror tale this summer, Summer’s Edge has you covered, and I think a lot of readers are going to be very enraptured by the twists and turns within these pages.

Unfortunately for me, there were a lot of elements of this story that did not work for me, with most of them boiling down to the writing and editing. I read an eARC of this, so hopefully these issues were fixed by the time the final edits went to print, but I found some glaring continuity errors (such as a character destroying an item on one page, and then having it in his hands, unharmed, two pages later) and there were some unlikely scenarios that I couldn’t quite suspend my disbelief for. While some of those scenarios are somewhat explained later, avoiding tying up those loose ends struck me as incomplete and a missed opportunity to make this book a lot more solid than it was.

While I won’t give any spoilers for the twists or the ending, I will say that I saw it coming, and while it was a trope I’ve enjoyed in many other pieces of media, I didn’t love its execution here. That said, there were some redeeming qualities in a few of the characters and many quotable, creepy lines that I enjoyed (especially in the “in-between” short chapters in the first half of the book), and the atmosphere of the lake house was immaculate. Overall, Summer’s Edge wasn’t a story to write home about and I was a little relieved when it was over, as I think it dragged on a bit too long, but I’m still happy I read it and think it will be a big hit with a lot of summer thrill-seekers!

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy! All thoughts are honest and my own.

content warnings →
WARNINGS (CONTAINS SPOILERS):

death, murder, grief, death by fire/smoke inhalation, death by drowning, infidelity, animal death (brief, off-page), brief implication of a previous suicide attempt, brief memories of forced mental health institutionalization, drugging without consent, underage alcohol abuse

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Chelsea is bi/pan (not specific); Kennedy is sapphic (unknown if lesbian or bi/pan)

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2 Comments

  • Reply tasya @ the literary huntress June 1, 2022 at 2:14 am

    Ooh great review! I’m looking forward to read this one so I do hope the writing and continuity errors will be fixed on the final version because it can be confusing to read!

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