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Black Dog Summer

A Novel


In this extraordinary debut novel reminiscent of The Lovely Bones and Little Bee, a mother watches from the afterlife as her teenage daughter recovers amidst the startling dysfunction of her extended family.

A small, bright thread of a story weaves out from the moment of my passing and seems to tether me to this place. Perhaps this is why I have not left yet. Perhaps I have no choice but to follow the story to its end.

Black Dog Summer begins with a murder, a farmstead massacre, in the South African bush. Thirty-eight-year-old Sally is but one of the victims. Her life brutally cut short, she narrates from her vantage point in the afterlife and watches as her sister, Adele, her brother-in-law and unrequited love Liam, her niece Bryony, and her teenage daughter, Gigi, begin to make sense of the tragedy.

A suspenseful drama focusing on marriage and fidelity, sisterhood, and the fractious bond between mothers and daughters, Black Dog Summer asks: In the wake of tragedy, where does all that dark energy linger? The youngest characters, Bryony and Gigi, cousins who are now brought together after Sally’s murder, are forced into sharing a bedroom. Bryony becomes confused and frightened by the violent energy stirred up and awakened by the massacre, while Gigi is unable to see beyond her deep grief and guilt. But they are not the only ones aware of the lurking darkness. Next door lives Lesedi, a reluctant witch doctor who hides her mystical connection with the dead.

As Gigi finally begins to emerge from her grief, she receives some shattering news, and in a mistaken effort to protect her cousin, puts Bryony’s life in imminent danger. Now Sally must find a way to prevent her daughter from making a mistake that could destroy the lives of all who are left behind.

Gorgeously written, with a pace that will leave readers breathless, Black Dog Summer introduces a brilliant new voice in fiction.

© Hannelie Coetzee

Miranda Sherry grew up in a house filled with books. She was seven when she began writing stories. A few decades, numerous strange jobs, and many manuscripts later, Black Dog Summer is the first of her works to be published. Miranda currently lives in Johannesburg with her sort-of-husband and two cats. To find out more, go to or

“Mystical, suspenseful, and darkly funny … Black Dog Summer is sure to be the beginning of a long career for Miranda Sherry.”

Winnipeg Free Press

“Sherry builds suspense as she explores the bonds between siblings, spouses, and parents and children. A beautifully written literary debut centering on the power of love and memory.”


“Vibrates with tension. ... A hauntingly beautiful tale from a writer to watch.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Tightly woven and richly rewarding.”

Cape Times (South Africa)

“A story about murder but not crime, with black magic but no horror, and narrated by a dead woman who is not a ghost, this debut novel is a delightful mix of paradox and melancholy.”

The Sunday Times (South Africa)

“An engaging tale of second chances, reconcilliation, and allies in unlikely places.”

The Times (South Africa)

“It’s not very often a novel reaches in, grips your insides, and takes you on a ride so atmospheric and well-written. Black Dog Summer is a rich tapestry of grief, family, hidden secrets, and love.”

—It’s A Book

“Exquisitely told and poignant.”

The Lady (UK)

“Poetic and thought-provoking, this accomplished debut is an intensely moving tale.”

The Good Book Guide (UK)

“Evocative ... Sherry’s sense of pacing and her keen ear for dialogue make for a good read.”

Publishers Weekly