Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.
Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.
When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperature as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestle with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.
“Dear Mr. Devil, Sir Satan, Lord Lucifer, and all other crosses you bear,
I cordially invite you to Breathed, Ohio. Land of hills and hay bales, of sinners and forgivers. May you come in peace.
With great faith,
The devil shows up on a June afternoon and all of sudden the weather becomes scorching hot (and stays that way for months). The devil is also not what you might expect. His name is Sal, he is 13-years-old and Black. Sal, is greeted by Fielding Bliss, also 13-years-old and Autopsy’s son. Soon after Sal is in town, strange, wicked events begin to take place. Most of the people in Breathed want absolutely nothing to do with Sal for obvious reasons, but the Bliss family take him in and treat him well. You would think the devil is there to cause harm, but all Sal really wants is to be loved. I am not going to spoil the book by providing too many details. McDaniel writes well and you can tell she is also a poet. Her novel deals with heavy issues such as: race, homosexuality, HIV/AIDS, and religion. The novel is narrated by Fielding when he is an older man in his 70s and the chapters alternate between 1984 and the present (2041?). Though I liked the novel, I wish McDaniel provided more details about Sal’s past, family, etc.
I would like to thank Tiffany McDaniel for graciously providing me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.