Summoned to their magnificent family home on the shores of Lake Ontario--a paradisiacal mansion perched on an escarpment above the city--three adult sisters, George, Jax, and Pippa, come together in what seems like an act of family solidarity. Pregnant and unwell, the youngest, Pippa, has left her husband and four young children in New Zealand and returned home to heal. But home to this family means secrets, desire, and vengeance--and feasting on the sexual appetites and weaknesses of others. Each daughter has her own particular taste: George enjoys risk; Jax, memory; and Pippa, cool calculation. And overlaying everything are their parents, with unquenchable desires and cravings of their own.
As the affluent family endures four intense days in one another's company, old fissures reappear. When long-buried truths finally come to light, the sisters and their parents must face the unthinkable consequences of their actions.
Summer Cannibals is a riveting, psychological story of lust, betrayal, and family from a dazzling new voice in Canadian fiction.
"They were handsome and they knew it to be true, and theirs was a world that rewarded such things" (Hobson).
Summer Cannibals is an enthralling story of control, power and selfishness. It follows the Blackford family as they navigate 4 days together again in their childhood home, bringing them back to their original tendencies.
The novel starts off with an early memory of their calm, joyful past, before throwing us into the tumultuous present that is their lives.
I have to say, the book was fairly interesting and the plot was possibly the only reason I kept reading. As fucked up as the story was, that's what made me want to continue on, to see what would happen next. I felt as though the multiple story lines were put together haphazardly and the flow of the plot was disrupted many times.
The characters, while relatable in some aspects, were wildly controversial and disturbed. Their underlying qualities and values were recognizable, however their actions in most cases were linked to some very obvious mental instability to the level of needing to be medicated. I didn't find them to bring much to the table in terms of keeping a reader around, as there was no one to be empathetic of.
We were treated to some very strong themes, such as power and dominance. Those stood out to me in the character's thoughts and actions, as well as how the plot played out. I found it enjoyable and entertaining, another reason why I kept reading. I wanted to see where it would take me.
I found that the author used to many commas in her sentences. She tried too hard to over complicate things that could have been said easily, or through 3 sentences, not jammed together in a confusing jumble.
The ending left me confused and defeated. I was hoping for a certain outcome, rooting for it, but it never came and in fact the ending was so neutral and up to interpretation that I felt anyone could pull what they wanted from it. I appreciated the ambiguity that the novel left me with.
I think that this novel was interesting but also very disturbing and dark. If it were a bit better constructed I think I would have liked it better, but despite that, it kept me captivated and brought to light some very serious and intense emotions that aren't brought up often. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
MELANIE HOBSON holds a BA Honours in Classical Studies from McMaster University, was a Michener Fellow in the MFA at the University of Miami, and a Kingsbury Fellow in the PhD Program at Florida State University. She now lives in Florida with her husband and two children. Summer Cannibals is her first novel.