A Review of Ghost Summer by Tananarive Due
Updated: Jul 9, 2020
Title: Ghost Summer
Author: Tananarive Due
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction
Published: 2015, Prime Books
Edition: Second paperback printing
Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5 (Look below for individual story ratings)
Ghost Summer by Tananarive Due is a short story collection by an author who has made a huge impact on the realm of speculative fiction with her expertise in Black Horror (read here for more information on Black Horror from Tananarive Due herself). I had the pleasure of reading one of her stories, “Patient Zero,” for my Speculative Fiction: Horror class. I immediately had to read more, and one of my classmates recommended her collection. I ordered it right after the virtual lecture ended, and I was not disappointed.
So, I don’t want to give too much away, seeing as how these are short stories and one novella. To do that, I will write a quick sentence description, ratings, and let you make up your own mind about Due’s wonderful works. I will go ahead and say that none of these works were particularly scary (though "Ghost Summer" came really, really close), but they were eerie/creepy and well-written. Lower ratings occurred when a story seemed to end too soon or just didn’t affect me as well as the others. Some stories struck me as a little on the generic side, and others wowed me beyond belief. Due is incredible when it comes to twists and playing with your emotions.
I have left one story off this list because I simply couldn’t get into it enough to finish it. The title of it was “Señora Suerte.” Also, just to warn you, “Vanishings” is not necessarily speculative fiction. Stories are rated on a 5-point scale.
1. "The Lake" - 5
Due writes that the theme for this story was to write it from the monster’s point-of-view. A teacher who preys on her students becomes truly monstrous.
2. "Summer" - 4.5
An exhausted mother finds that her ill-behaved child has changed after a visit from a swamp leech.
3. "Ghost Summer" - 5
Davie has been waiting for his turn to hunt ghosts in a small Florida town, but he may be in for more than he hoped for when he finds the town is rich in figurative and literal ghosts.
4. "Free Jim’s Mine" – 4.5
Lottie escapes her life as a slave and reaches out to her uncle, Free Jim, but Free Jim’s help might come at a steep price.
5. "The Knowing" – 5
Nicky’s mother can tell anyone the exact date of their death.
6. "Like Daughter" - 4.5
A mother tries to live through vicariously through her young daughter to overcome her own childhood trauma in this horrific science fiction story.
7. "Afternoon" – 4
A werewolf story where the main character is more concerned about the cosmetic effects of being a werewolf.
8. "Trial Day" - 4
A young girl dabbles in dark forces to convince her father to save her brother from execution after an alleged armed robbery.
9. "Patient Zero" - 4.5
A deadly pandemic seen through the eyes of an immune child and his journal.
10. "Danger Word (With Steven Barnes)" – 4.5
A zombie story. This is Tananarive Due’s first collaboration with her husband, science fiction writer Steven Barnes. Some details were changed to create their YA zombie novels, Devil’s Wake and Domino Falls.
11. "Removal Order" (5), "Herd Immunity" (5), "Carriers" (4.5)
These three stories follow the immune character, Nayima, as she stumbles her way through several stages of a fast-acting, horrifying pandemic. The stories follow the first stages of the pandemic to Nayima in her old age.
12. "Vanishings" - 4
A woman neglects something important in her obsession with her husband’s “disappearance.” Note: This one does not seem to be speculative fiction like the rest of the stories in the collection.