Glenn Rolfe’s Until Summer Comes Around is an all-consuming, 1980s coming-of-age, nostalgic, vampire extravaganza of a story. I “summer breezed” right on through this entire book, and much like the vampires in this story, I was bloodthirsty for more.
I love the synopsis description: “When fifteen-year-old Rocky Zukas meets a mysterious dark-haired girl named November, his world is forever changed.” HOOKED. November has a family secret and, unfortunately for Rocky, he is under the spell of young love. Coming-of-age horror is a sub-genre that I hold near and dear to my heart. There is nothing like a group of kids or teenagers running into a terrifying, horror snafu while in the middle of figuring out the world for the first time. That perfect combination of carefree innocence, high school woes, and imminent fear fills my black heart with pure joy. This story checks all the boxes.
It’s 1986 and a rash of disappearances has hit Old Orchard Beach. Rocky is about to turn 16 and get his driver’s license for a carefree existence. Unfortunately, Rocky’s best friend is going away for the summer during a time when he feels his most average, awkward, and aimless. Then enters November, a smart, interesting, and beautiful girl that, no matter how awkward Rocky is, still seems to enjoy his company. Of course, November’s family happens to be keeping the fact that they are vampires under wraps for obvious reasons, but when November’s brother Gabriel finds out about Rocky, he is not pleased—not pleased at all.
November is a unique character as she lives a vampiric life. She is soulful and looking for something more than a life of blood, which she finds in Rocky—a typical teen living an ordinary life with mishaps, embarrassment, and fun. Gabriel is the antithesis of his sister; he is cruel, malignant, and feeds off his bloody, murderous lifestyle. Rolfe’s keen talent for writing a good vampire character is noteworthy. Vampires that can fly, walk around in the daylight, and get enhanced powers at night without being silly is genius.
Every detail, from the beach setting atmosphere, to the 1980s summer teenage love story, to the blood-lusting vampires, is precisely what I needed right now. Rolfe does a perfect job building these characters brick by brick and crafting a brilliant vampire story without going over-the-top. The blinding safety of a small beach town is the ideal backdrop for a bloody budding teenage love story. The 1980s music, video games, and innocence (well…vampire innocence) are just so RAD. I think I might need to watch the movie The Lost Boys again because this story has those vibes. It’s oozing with nostalgia, dead bodies, and blood addled vampires. The kill scenes are the way I like them, brutal and blood-soaked. So gnarly. Righteous.
Until Summer Comes Around is a fangtastic, sharply executed story with a delicate balance of innocence, blood, and first love. Let’s just say I’m a fan of Mr. Rolfe and cannot wait to read a few of his backlist titles. Perhaps I’ll start with Blood And Rain or Becoming.