Friday 9 August 2013

Book Review: Cruel Summer by James Dawson.

Product details:
Publisher: Indigo.
Paperback, 324 pages.
Release date: August 1st 2013.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Competition win.

A year after Janey’s suicide, her friends reunite at a remote Spanish villa, desperate to put the past behind them. However, an unwelcome guest arrives claiming to have evidence that Jane was murdered. When she is found floating in the pool, it becomes clear one of them is a killer. Only one thing is for certain, surviving this holiday is going to be murder…

A compelling and psychological thriller - with a dash of romance.

I grew up on horror. Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, and, latterly, Stephen King, were the heroes of my teenage years. I love horror movies too. None of the gore thank you very much. I’m all for old school creep factor. Oh yeah, and I have a real soft spot for nineties slasher flicks featuring young hot Hollywood.  I knew then, that with my tastes, I couldn’t go wrong with Cruel Summer by James Dawson. This book has it all. I was hooked right from the get-go. Seriously. Go visit your bookstore and read the prologue of this book. I can guarantee you won’t leave the store without it.  You’ll have to know what happens next.  Cruel Summer is Christopher Pike meets I Know What You Did Last Summer, and there’s a whole lot here too for anyone who loved Gretchen McNeil’s Ten last year and has been looking for more of the same.  Damn, this book is good.

Who Killed Janey Bradshaw?

That’s the question that’s been plaguing Ryan ever since last year’s killer cliffhanger (pun totally intended) series finale when Janey met her death on the rocks beneath Telscombe Cliffs. Janey’s death was ruled suicide, but Ryan has questions and he’s determined to find out the truth now that the gang minus Janey (R.I.P) is about to be united at his BFF Katie’s villa in Spain. Actually, the villa is Katie’s dads and it is ah-mazing. It has a pool and everything…Oh, I should clarify that Janey’s death was very real. It’s just that aspiring actor Ryan likes to think of everything in terms of the long-running TV drama series that constantly plays in his head (with him as the star- naturally). The High School Years ended with Janey’s death, but now the gang is back for a Summer Special in Spain. Whatever could go wrong?

James Dawson obviously knows his (Point) Horror and here he has a whole lot of fun with that knowledge as he takes the familiar tropes of horror and twists and turns them into something new and different. This makes for a very exciting page-turning read indeed.  All the characters of those nineties horrors I loved are in this book with updates for the noughties: along with Ryan (a gay guy with a flair for gossip and drama) there’s Katie (the good girl), Ben (the heart-throb, also Katie’s ex), Alisha (the bad girl trying to be good), Greg (the Jock, also Alisha’s brother), and Erin (Greg’s tagalong WAG-alike girlfriend). So, who will die first? That’s what you should be asking yourself right now. Because this is a summer sizzler with a body count. Everybody has their secrets, and before you know it, heads will roll. Especially when an unwanted visitor turns up with some secrets of their own. Dun, dun, dun….

You want to read this, don’t you?

I can’t recommend Cruel Summer highly enough. I thoroughly enjoyed Dawson’s debut Hollow Pike when I read it last year, but in my opinion, Cruel Summer is even better. I literally did not put this book down once I picked it up, and I know a lot of my blogger friends had a similar experience with it.  I give Cruel Summer ALL THE STARS and I’m already excited for Dawson’s next book Say Her Name (inspired by the myth of Bloody Mary – how freaking cool!) which releases in May 2014.


  1. Jenny @ Supernatural Snark9 August 2013 at 15:34

    Normally I would say horror is definitely not the genre for me, but that's stemming mainly from the gore issue. I don't deal well with that at all, but since you're not a fan either and loved this book, I think it might work well for me. I actually loved I Know What You Did Last Summer even though it scared the life out of me, and I definitely want to read something you give ALL THE STARS to:)

  2. It's official: I need this book in my life immediately! Like you, I grew up reading every thriller and horror novel I could get my hands on, and I also adore horror movies (Although I'm not a fan of this new 'torture porn' genre that seems to have cropped up lately. Yuck.) This sounds like the perfect novel for me :) While I was largely disappointed by Gretchen McNeil's Ten, I'm constantly on the search for this type of story and I'm glad I've finally found one I can add to my TBR list. I love the frantic search to ascertain the identity of the murderer before it's revealed and the bone-chilling apprehension of waiting to find out what will happen to the characters next.

    Thank you so much for this review, Leanna! :D I had never heard of Cruel Summer prior to your post but it's definitely on my radar now.

  3. Liz @ Planet Print9 August 2013 at 20:55

    I have literally heard nothing but good things about this book! I do love a good murder mystery so I'll gave to pick this up. Sounds like there are loads of great characters! Great review, thanks,

  4. Haha, I just posted my review of this too! I loved this so much, it was fantastic!

  5. Great review, Leanna! I'm a wimp so I've always avoided horror and anything remotely scary, but lately I'm finding myself drawn to books like this and even Stephen King's novels. Maybe this would be a good one to start with!

  6. I'm not a fan of gore, so rest assured this is pretty gore-light. It's very much in the vein of Point Horror books and movies like I Know What You Did Last Summer - there's a great 'comic relief' thread running through it too. :)

  7. I hope you love this, Jen. It certainly sounds like the book for you. It was a better read for me than 'Ten' - although I really enjoyed that one too. I just love books like this. If you know of any other books of the sort, pass on any recommendations to me.

    I'm so with you on 'torture porn'. So not my thing. Not that I've watched any of it, but the very idea of it turns my stomach. Have you seen The Conjuring? I've heard it has a lot of 'classic horror' influences, so I'm excited to check it out. Although, that said, I feel like I haven't seen a really good horror movie in a while. The Strangers is probably the last horror I rated at all.

  8. Thanks, Liz. This one has been rated highly by nearly everyone I know. Including Cait below!

  9. It was! I must go take a look at your review. I'm doing my blog hopping rounds at the mo! :)

  10. This isn't *too* scary, so it might be a good place to start! :) I LOVE horror!

  11. ChristinaBookAddict11 August 2013 at 14:55

    I am such a baby when it comes to scary reads, but I really like the idea of a summer sizzler, as you say. Maybe if I read it on the beach it won't freak me out as much! :) Thanks for the great review. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for this one.

  12. Jess Hearts Books12 August 2013 at 19:05

    This is such a brilliant review! All your reviews are fantastic but I particularly loved this one because I AGREE WITH ALL OF THE THINGS! I really need to read Hollow Pike now and Say Her Name sounds incredible already!

  13. This one isn't *too* scary, but it is a lot of fun. I think you'll be safe if you read it on the beach! :)

  14. Yay! :) Glad you liked the review, Jess! Say Her Name sounds amazing. I need it like yesterday!

  15. Ooh, I have to admit that while I'm not a big fan of horror, this one has definitely piqued my interest. I do remember loving I know what you did last summer, so with those comparisons that you've thrown in - well, I can definitely see myself giving this a try. Oh - I was also a big fan of King in my teen years. I should reread some of his work again - I'm feeling all sorts of nostalgic now. Have you managed to check out Under the Dome yet btw?


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