"Cruel Summer" Book Review

Written by Jennifer Turner

Published by Death's Head Press

cruel summer wesley southard poster large

Written by Wesley Southard
2021, 308 pages, Fiction
Released on January 4th, 2021


The best part of reviewing books is being introduced to new authors and new tales. And author Wesley Southard is definitely in my top 10 list of favorite horror discoveries.

My favorite thing about his writing style is there is no slow buildup to the story or boring filler scenes. The writer’s stories throw the reader right into the madness and you better buckle up or be left in the literary dust.

Cruel Summer introduces us to our protagonists Melissa and her teenage son, Patrick, who are on the vacation from hell with Melissa’s abusive boyfriend, Holt. A split-second decision to get rid of him opens the door to an even more epic evil and the duo find themselves fighting for their lives.

Let’s talk about our villain, Holt, for a moment. You know the author is a talented when you find yourself wanting to dive into the novel and beat the bad guy down. I’ve read tons of horror and met many villains on the way, but never have I ever been so angry at a fictional character.

Although Holt is the essentially the villain of this piece, he’s not the only evil we encounter in this story. Greek Gods are introduced into the plot, setting up a very exciting and action-packed tale. I love reading Grecian mythology and I am thrilled that Southard used a deity that I had never heard of instead of going with the more popular options.

Melissa is the perfect female horror character; she’s tough but also heartbreakingly vulnerable. This is not an eye candy girlfriend role or a screaming damsel in distress. She is the ultimate momma bear fervently protecting her young.

The character’s realization that her bad life choices have led to this chaos is so true and honest. I had a mom who didn’t have the best choices in men and I can understand how a woman can gravitate to the perennial bad boys. Patrick’s rage having to deal with these decisions is the same way that I have felt toward the lesser men that my mother chose to be in my life.

The ending of the novel is by far one of the most exciting things that I’ve read this year. A high seas chase complete with homicidal sea life and believe me, you haven’t lived until you get to experience death by tentacles. Ask my prom date.

Cruel Summer definitely will be in my top 10 this year and I look forward to checking out more Southard goodies.


Overall: 5 Star Rating Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
Buy from Amazon UK.

This page includes affiliate links where Horror DNA may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Jennifer Turner
Staff Reviewer
Jennifer's love of horror began when she was five and her father let her watch A Nightmare on Elm Street. She is an avid bookworm and part time misanthrope who sometimes wonders if an apocalypse wouldn't be all that bad.
Other articles by this writer



Join Us!

Hit the buttons below to follow us, you won't regret it...