Book Title: Melding Spirits by Michael E. Burge
Category: Adult Fiction, 371 pages
Genre: Literary fiction, Mystery, Coming of age
Publisher: Michael E. Burge Publishing
Release date: June 2017
Tour dates: Jan 14 to 31, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 (The book alludes to criminal acts and deviant behavior, but does not provide graphic description.)
Twelve-year-old Evan Mason’s life has been turned upside down by the sudden death of his father. His mother isn’t home much, the insurance office during the day, waiting tables at night. Evan is spending a great deal of time alone.
Now he finds himself on a Greyhound bus headed for a small town on the Wabash River where he’ll spend the summer of 1958 with his loving grandmother.
Evan soon meets his new neighbor, Katie Dobbins. She’s a feisty blue-eyed girl with a ponytail, the type of girl Buddy Holly might sing about on American Bandstand. Evan is instantly enamored with her.
It seems the perfect summer is underway—but strange things are happening in the woods surrounding the Ghost Hill Indian Mound.
There’s a dark cloud lingering over the Wabash Valley—It won’t be long before it erupts into a raging storm.
Set in 1958 in a small town on the Wabash River, Michael E. Burge's new novel is a coming of age story of 12-year old Evan Mason, a pleasant boy who has lost his father in death and is sent to spend the summer with his grandmother because his mother is rarely home, working long hours to make ends meet. There he makes friends with a group of kids and meets newcomer Katie Dobbins, with whom he experiences first love.
But among this sleepy town and the innocent play of young teens, there's a killer on the loose who is targeting girls. The story starts off with the reader becoming immersed in Evan's life and the book has the feel of a middle-grade literary fiction until it picks up pace and takes on the feel of a murder mystery through the eyes of the authorities who are tracking the killer. It's like a train that picks up speed and goes barrelling to its destination.
The best part of this book for me was the characterization of the cast. The characters jump off the page. Evan is twelve but he is somewhat of an old soul until he meets Katie and experiences first love. We get to like Evan as we witness his interactions with his friends and Riley, a man with limited mental abilities. The story is interspersed with references to music of that era and the simpler life of young ones without technology. It was a refreshing read of a bygone era.
There is some allusion of how the loss of his father and having an absentee mother affected Evan but not enough. I think the story would have been enhanced if these issues would have been dealt with so there would have been more inner conflict that would have meshed with the outer conflict of the story to bring about a deeper emotional element to the story.
Melding Spirits is a well-written story with a great cast of unforgettable characters. I loved the sleepy town setting of 1950s, the coming of age aspect, and the murder mystery.
Michael E. Burge grew up in the Chicago suburbs and a small town on the Wabash River in Southern Illinois.
In the late sixties, he left college to serve on a U.S. Navy destroyer out of Norfolk, Virginia. Upon leaving the service, he transitioned to a career in the burgeoning computer industry, positions in product management and marketing.
He is now pursuing his lifelong interest in writing, publishing his debut novel, Bryant’s Gap, in 2015 and his second, Melding Spirits, in 2017.
Michael also plays piano, paints, and is an avid golfer. He and his family currently live in Illinois.
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