Cruel Summer by K. R. Conway
on March 16th 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Kian O’Reilly is flawless as a killer. Well-practiced in the art of making murder look like an accident, he is selfish, wealthy, and totally arrogant as a soul-stealing immortal. But when he ends up stranded on Cape Cod with a stolen car and a dead drug dealer in the trunk, he thinks his luck couldn’t get any worse. That is, until Ana Lane shows up.
Gifted as a mechanic and surfer, feisty Ana is not a fan of the entitled Frat Boys who show up every summer, messing with local girls. Believing Kian is one of those typical rich brats, she fixes his car and ruthlessly dismantles his cocky ego . . . which intrigues the dangerous soul thief.
Determined to spend more time with the prickly mechanic, Kian sets out to understand what makes Ana so fierce. Soon, however, he uncovers the painful truth behind the real Ana Lane, and the decision to save her, may destroy them both.
Welcome to my stop on the Cruel Summer blog tour, hosted by YA Bound Book Tours! You can find the complete tour schedule here. There’s also a giveaway for the book at the end of this post, so be sure to enter.
Cruel Summer is a novella, written as a prequel to Undertow and Stormfront. However, it’s recommended that you read Undertow and Stormfront first. Cruel Summer is a standalone, so you can technically read it before those two, but because there may be a few spoilers (nothing too dramatic), I would recommend at least reading Undertow first.
Not only am I lucky enough to have met the author, K.R. Conway, but I very recently attended a YA panel that included Conway, Trisha Leaver, and A.C. Gaughen, among others. It was fantastic to see all these ladies together in a “Girl Power” panel at a library.
I loved Undertow (here’s my REVIEW), though I’m not a big urban fantasy fan, so when I saw the sign-ups for the Cruel Summer blog tour, I jumped on the bandwagon.
First things first. I love all the references to REAL places on Cape Cod in the book! Whether it’s an ice cream shop or diner, you’ll enjoy the various locations and eateries the characters frequent. Conway specifically included the names of real places, and this is wonderful advertising for local businesses. I heard her say recently that you can actually have the people at some of these spots sign your book. How cool is that?
Cruel Summer starts off with a bang.
A body hidden in the trunk of a very expensive car procured by Kian himself. We open with Kian’s perspective—a character in Undertow as well. In Undertow we don’t really get Kian’s point of view, so featuring it in this novella allows readers to get to know Kian more. He is not human. He is a mortis, and that means that he can be very dangerous. But at the same time, readers will probably fall in love with Kian.
In the beginning of the book, Kian meets Ana, a tough mechanic with violet-streaked hair who is not to be messed with, and is unimpressed by Kian’s wealth and looks (though she soon realizes that she’s attracted to him). Ana has her own challenges to deal with—she’s got an abusive alcoholic father, and her friend MJ who works at an ice cream shop is probably the only friend that knows the truth of Ana’s situation. Until Kian finds out. And then things get pretty complicated.
What I found interesting is that not only is Kian a fascinating character as a soul-thief, and about 182 years old, but Ana has her own special abilities. She can read emotions. She senses something a bit off about Kian, but isn’t able to actually “read” him. I won’t give anything away, but the buildup to the reveal maintains a healthy pace to the narrative.
I really appreciated the switching of perspectives in this story–it didn’t feel disjointed. Rather, I enjoyed reading both Kian’s and Ana’s side of the story.
The dialogue and interaction between the two enriches the story by making you, the reader, want the two to acknowledge their feelings for each other. There are a few roadblocks to this happening. For example, Kian ends up staying the summer on the cape, but it’s much to the dismay of Ana, who doesn’t want to cultivate her feelings for this new friend. But as we all know, that isn’t necessarily going to stop these two from growing closer.
Who Should Read This Book:
If you like urban fantasy, are intrigued by the idea of killer humans with supernatural strength who feed on the souls of people, and want a quick read set on Cape Cod, this one is for you. If you read Undertow and/or Stormfront, I think you’ll be interested in knowing more about Kian and Ana, before they make their appearance in the other books. I really appreciated getting their perspectives—often you enjoy a book, but you wonder what was going on inside the head of those secondary characters. With Cruel Summer, I don’t have to wonder anymore—at least in terms of these characters’ back stories.
The Final Illumination:
Witty dialogue, a Cape Cod summer setting, killer soul thieves, and mystery are all dimensions of this story that had me turning the pages late into the night. I haven’t read Stormfront yet, but since Undertow ended on a kind of cliffhanger, that’s something I plan to get to soon.
I can imagine Conway’s series is popular with young adult readers–in Undertow she references the perils of high school and I can imagine Cape Cod teens would be very interested in Cruel Summer with its vivid shore settings and nods to local businesses and hang out spots.
Kian and Ana may not play center stage in the other two books, but I think getting their backstories and perspectives adds to the depth of a series that is sure to delight fans of urban fantasy, hungering for a bit of the paranormal by the shore.
“Dad used to say that the night sky was truly endless when you were out at sea. He said that when the water was dead calm and the moon was hiding beneath the curve of earth, it felt as though he was actually floating in space. On the blackest of nights, he said you couldn’t see where the ocean stopped and the universe began and suddenly you were one with the stars. On those night, you became your own constellation and a mere speck in a galaxy so vast, that no one else existed.”
** This is the prequel novella to UNDERTOW and is based on the story of Kian and Ana the summer they met. While it can be read at anytime in the series, it is meant to be read after UNDERTOW and STORMFRONT.**
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Links for Undertow (Book One):
Links for Stormfront (Book Two):
About the Author
I have been a journalist for 15 years and serve on the Board of Directors for the Cape Cod Writers Center. I also drive a 16-ton school bus because I am ENTIRELY NUTS.
In addition to working jobs that should come with a warning label , I hold a BA in Psychos (Forensic Psych), torment the tourists about Jaws, and occasionally jump from the Town Neck bridge in an attempt to reclaim my youth.
I live on Cape Cod with two smallish humans who apparently are my kids, my fishing-obsessed husband, two canines (adept at both flatulence and snoring), and a cage-defiant lovebird that sleeps in a miniature tent. Nope – that’s not a type-o. The bird is quite the indoor camper.
Book Tour Organized by:
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