Book Review: Summerhill by Kevin Frane

About two months ago I went to a convention in Atlanta and saw a vendor selling Summerhill. It has a dog wearing a suit on the front, which is interesting in itself, but I recognized it as having been written by the guy who led a writers’ workshop a few months back. I’d not read any of his work before, so since it was there I thought it was worth a try.

As a general rule, I avoid furry literature for a number of reasons. I like more “human” characters, dislike the amateurish feel so many have, and especially don’t want to read erotica, which I get the impression there is far too much of in furry.

So I was not sure what to expect.

As it turns out, not only is Summerhill the best furry work I have read so far, it is the first book in years that I have read and thoroughly enjoyed reading. Frane includes no shortage of creative chaos in this book, which he handles quite well although it took some getting used to in the first couple chapters. (This reminds me, the chapters are not always numbered sequentially. It took a little while to be convinced this was not an error, but there is a reason for it which I won’t say.) You don’t know anything the protagonist doesn’t know, and trust me, there isn’t much. You discover his world and his life along with him.

Not only is the plot complex, but so is the protagonist. Summerhill doesn’t really know who he is or what he’s looking for, and only has a fragment of information to go on. He’s also more than a little clueless and selfish at the beginning. It is pleasing to watch him develop a greater understanding of the world he is in and his place in it, as well as discovering that there are consequences for all his actions.

There’s also some romance and rivalry to move the plot along. There’s Tek, a likable male otter he has a strong fondness for and a very brief intimate encounter with – which causes a crisis for him early on. There’s also Katherine, a rival, partner, and primary obsession for Summerhill throughout. Stay with her and it’ll work out, but staying with her is not an easy task.

Summerhill is an engaging book with a complex plot, interesting characters, and very little objectionable content (mild profanity and a tastefully-portrayed intimate encounter). It’s definitely worth the read if you have the time and inclination.

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