cover image Summer of the Cicadas

Summer of the Cicadas

Chelsea Catherine. Red Hen, $14.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-59709-483-2

Catherine wraps a fast-paced, stirring narrative about loss and unrequited love into a story about an unusually aggressive 17-year cicada swarm and the terror it brings to the residents of a West Virginia town. Jessica, a former cop, works as a security guard at the town hall, where she pines for councilwoman Natasha and regrets losing her badge amid grief over the death of her sister and parents in a car crash two years earlier, which led to a pain pill addiction and side work as a stripper to support the habit, and her eventual firing. When the cicadas start attacking people, Jessica is deputized by her former department to lend a hand. While dealing with the violent and large insects, Jessica must also deal with her feelings for Natasha, and the heartache of the upcoming anniversary of her family’s death. This bleak, slim novel packs a great deal of insight into depression, desire, and substance abuse from the perspective of a gay woman struggling to move forward in her life (“I still want to die sometimes, but I’m better at pretending”), and the merciless cicadas make for a moving metaphor of the wreckage Jessica must face and overcome. Catherine’s frightening vision makes for a worthy exercise in small-town horror. (Aug.)