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Summerlong    by Peter S. Beagle order for
by Peter S. Beagle
Order:  USA  Can
Tachyon, 2016 (2016)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Peter S. Beagle has given us unique works of fantasy over the years - think A Fine and Private Place, The Last Unicorn, and his YA Tamsin. He does it again with his latest urban fantasy, Summerlong, that puts an entirely new spin on the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone.

In the Pacific Northwest, we get to know a delightful couple, who are growing older together, while still maintaining fairly independent lives. Joanne 'Del' Delvecchio is 'a head waitress in a flying Burger King, training gravel-brained girls to tell the difference between tonic water and ginger ale'. She has a passion for basketball - when she's not flying, she shoots hoops. Del is unhappy about her rocky relationship with her gay daughter Lily, whom Abe helped raise, and whose personal life is a disaster. Retired historian Abe plays the harmonica, brews his own beer, and takes Del to the Skyliner Diner, whenever she's home.

As the story opens, they are eating at the Skyliner, served by a most unusual, and rather mesmerizing new waitress, Lioness, 'looking like she made it to Woodstock a day late'. She needs a place to stay so they offer Abe's garage, rent free. Soon, they become convinced that Lioness is running from an abusive relationship and both feel protective of her. When Lily meets Lioness, she is immediately infatuated. And magic begins to enter all their lives, conquering old fears and changing each of them - and their ties to each other - forever. Readers and protagonists both wonder, what is happening to them?

Summerlong is a tale of old gods intersecting with today's realities, and modern folk trying to comprehend the nature of old gods - as one tells Del, 'all touches change, and no touch can ever be taken back. Remember.' Well worth reading as is anything else by this author.

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