MALIGNANT SUMMER – by Tim Meyer
Publisher: Silver Shamrock Publsihing
Available: June 2021
Verdict: 4.0 out of 5.0
Overview: Kids are getting sick in Hooperstown, New Jersey. People are blaming the chemical plant, which has been secretly dumping in the woods by the river for years. But there’s something even more menacing at play – an ancient being called the Mother, hellbent on escaping the dream-world and reclaiming the earth. As the body count rises, a group of teenage friends band together to seek out the evil force and put a stop to it before the town of Hooperstown is completely devoured by nightmarish disease.
The Good: Though Meyer’s other work hasn’t given me this impression, Malignant Summer feels very much influenced by Stephen King’s small town horror epics. Think Dreamcatcher meets The Goonies. This large novel is centered on the teens of Hooperstown, most specifically the ones set to enter high school. While they are your main cast, there are also many secondary characters that dip in and out of the story to expand upon the mythos and plots at play. You have some interludes along the way, taking you back in time more than once to set the stage for what evil has befallen Hooperstown. As the novel moves along, the action and suspense continues to build. The finale of Malignant Summer is a good hundred pages, and a damn fine one at that. There are many explosive scenes throughout these 500+ pages, and yes, many fatalities. Though long, this novel manages to move briskly enough that readers shouldn’t fall out due to pacing issues.
The Bad: Some of the dialogue is a bit cringe-worthy, but that’s also to be expected when you have kids leading the story. There are also frequent reminders that this story takes place in the 90’s – you’ll hear a lot about video games, movies, and music that were popular at the time. Meyer spends a little too much time going into detail about how much these kids love to play Diddy Kong Racing or some other cartridge on the Nintendo systems. This information isn’t important to the story, and yet it returns time and again. Lastly, I found the epilogue to be an overly corny conclusion.
The Takeaway: If you like small town horror or coming-of-age horror, then Malignant Summer will likely be your next hit. It has a large cast that crosses paths over and over, a town that is turning black with disease, and a high body count amassed by its explosive finale. Though it feels familiar in style, Malignant Summer features a fresh approach focused on bringing our nightmares to life in some disturbing and horrific ways.
> File Under: Stephen King-esque horror … small town horror … coming-of-age … epic horror … ancient spirits … evil gods
> Also Read: Tim Meyer is the author of numerous books of merit, including 69 and The Switch House.
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> Aiden’s scoring system – (5) Perfection (4) Loved it (3) Enjoyed it (2) Disliked it (1) Hard pass / Aiden generally will not write a review for anything that scores lower than a (3) in his mind / DNF means “Did Not Finish” – this could be because of the writing, scheduling conflicts, lack of interest, or content; it does not necessarily mean the book was terrible