Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review: Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry

BlackDog Summer

Title: Black Dog Summer

Author: Miranda Sherry
Author Website) (Facebook)

Genre: Fiction: Thriller & Suspense

Narrator: Jilly Bond 

Publisher:  Highbridge Audio. 2/18/15

Length:  9.5 hrs • 8 CDs

Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program

About the Book: (from

In this extraordinary debut novel reminiscent of The Lovely Bones and Little Bee, a mother watches from the afterlife as her teenage daughter recovers amidst the startling dysfunction of her extended family.

A small, bright thread of a story weaves out from the moment of my passing and seems to tether me to this place. Perhaps this is why I have not left yet. Perhaps I have no choice but to follow the story to its end.

Compulsively readable and stylistically stunning, Black Dog Summer begins with a murder, a farmstead massacre, in the South African bush. Thirty-eight-year-old Sally is but one of the victims. Her life brutally cut short, she narrates from her vantage point in the afterlife and watches as her sister, Adele, her brother-in-law and unrequited love Liam, her niece Bryony, and her teenage daughter, Gigi, begin to make sense of the tragedy.

A suspenseful drama focusing on marriage and fidelity, sisterhood, and the fractious bond between mothers and daughters, Black Dog Summer asks: In the wake of tragedy, where does all that dark energy linger? The youngest characters, Bryony and Gigi, cousins who are now brought together after Sally’s murder, are forced into sharing a bedroom. Bryony becomes confused and frightened by the violent energy stirred up and awakened by the massacre, while Gigi is unable to see beyond her deep grief and guilt. But they are not the only ones aware of the lurking darkness. Next door lives Lesedi, a reluctant witchdoctor who hides her mystical connection with the dead behind the facade of their affluent Johannesburg suburb.

As Gigi finally begins to emerge from her grief, the fragile healing process is derailed when she receives some shattering news, and in a mistaken effort to protect her cousin, puts Bryony’s life in imminent danger. Now Sally must find a way to prevent her daughter from making a mistake that could destroy the lives of all who are left behind.

Gorgeously written, with a pace that will leave readers breathless, Black Dog Summer introduces a brilliant new voice in fiction.

About the Author:  (from author website)


Miranda Sherry was seven when she began writing stories. A few decades, numerous strange jobs (including puppeteer, bartender and musician), and many manuscripts later, her latest work, Black Dog Summer, is being published by Head of Zeus.
Her first novel, Days Like Glass, was shortlisted for the EU Literary Award in South Africa in 2005.
Miranda currently lives in Johannesburg with her sort-of-husband and two weird cats.

About the Narrator: 


Jilly Bond studied English & Drama at Bristol University and graduated with a 2:1. After four years working in production for BBC Television,she trained as an actor at Drama Studio London.
She has performed in theatres all over the British Isles & Germany, in plays by Shakespeare, Shaw, Wilde, Coward, as well as Ayckbourn, Pinter, Willy Russell, Neil Simon and numerous new writers. Jilly Bond  worked extensively on radio (including the role of Bridget in The Archers) and recorded hundreds of unabridged audiobooks (some award-winning); appearing on television in series such as Doctors, Judge John Deed, Alistair McGowan's Big Impression, Comedy Nation & Channel 4's cult hit As If. 

My Review: 
Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry is a riveting story told from the point of view of Sally, who was violently killed on a farm South Africa.   The farm was an peaceful animal sanctuary.  Sally and her daughter Gigi lived on the farm with others.   Sally, her sister Adele and Adele’s husband, Liam have a complicated past that has significantly effect their relationship.  Sally and Adele have been estranged for a number of years.    Gigi, Sally’s daughter survives the attack which take her mother’s life.   Gigi is understandably traumatized.  After being released from the hospital, she goes to like with her Aunt and Uncle, Adele and LIam, and their children.

Sally is stuck between the here and now, and the afterlife. She is able to see threads and if she follows them she is able to connect with various family members connect to each thread.    She is able to see what is going on in her daughter’s life.   Adele and Liam’s neighbor, Lesedi is a South African Sangoma.   The only person Sally is consistently able to interact with is Lesedi. 

Part of the story is told from the point of view of Bryony.  I found Bryony to be a very intuitive girl for her age. 

My Rating: 4/5 –really liked it-  Jilly Bond’s narration of the story, Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry is riveting.   You are immediately drawn into the story and care for the characters.  Jilly is very good at building suspense with the pace of her narration.   There is a scene between Gigi and her younger cousin, Bryony toward the end of the story that had a real effect on me.   I actually  had chills and found myself holding my breathe listening to this scene, something that has never happened to me before.   That is some great narration to be able to evoke such a physical reaction from the reader.

I enjoyed the point of view from which the book was written.  I enjoyed being able to hear the story through Sally’s voice and observations.  I really felt her frustration as she was only able to watch and not change the course of events in a meaningful way.  I loved the idea of the brightly colored thread connected to each person.  The threads represent the complexities of family relationships and how our stories are interwoven.  Black Dog Summer is about the complexities of family and our relationship and how a death can affect those relationships. 

Black Dog Summer, a debut novel by Miranda Sherry is a very emotional book.   If you enjoy family drama, complex relationships with a hint of supernatural, you will love Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry. 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing


Black Dog Summer was also reviewed on the following blogs: Literary TreatsWorn Pages and InkThe Bookbag, My Dog-eared Purpose and Not Now Darling. 


**Disclosure – Black Dog Summer by  Miranda Sherry was received from Audiobook Jukebox’s reviewer program and HighBridge Audio in exchange for a fair review.

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