I've developed a reputation as kind of a cantankerous hardass. It's not something I am proud of, but I have pledged to be honest in these pages. What kind of a reviewer/critic would I be if I gave out four and five star reviews to everything?

When Summer Comes Around is yet another nostalgic kids-in-peril horror novel. Since Stranger Things and the adaptations of King's It have come out, there have been an outbreak of these kind of stories. I've been around a long time, and I've seen it with the indian burial grounds, vampires, serial killers, zombies. I liked all of these things before they were milked to death.

Glenn Rolfe blends two of these tropes in When Summer Comes Around: Vampires and coming of age. The novel works best when Rolfe concerns himself with details of the story's vampire family. But all the horror details in the world do not help when a reader does not care about the characters.

When Summer Comes Around deals with an 80's kid named Rocky Zukas. Unfortunately Zukas has none of the charm of Stuttering Bill Denbrough or Cory Mackenson. Rocky is painfully typical. He likes cheese metal. Star Wars. Video games. He gets scared watching Michael Jackson's Thriller!

There's the typical vampire romance, but I felt not a moment of genuine emotion or honesty. No spark, no juice. Just one dimensional characters behaving in predictable ways.

I didn't quite hate When Summer Comes Around, but I found it to be a frustrating experience. I suppose it's no worse than some of the horror novels I read from the early 80's, when I was in my twenties. Sadly, I am no longer in my twenties. I have read hundreds of horror novels, and I need more than When Summer Comes Around has to offer.

If you have a taste for coming of age horror novels, go for something like Ronald Malfi's December Park or Tom Deady's Haven instead.

Written by Mark Sieber

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