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Summer of Night: A Novel

Summer of Night: A Novel

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Summer of Night: A Novel

valoraciones:
4.5/5 (73 valoraciones)
Longitud:
858 página
15 horas
Publicado:
Jul 5, 2011
ISBN:
9781429985314
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

This masterfully crafted horror classic, featuring a brand-new introduction by Dan Simmons, will bring you to the edge of your seat, hair standing on end and blood freezing in your veins

It's the summer of 1960 and in the small town of Elm Haven, Illinois, five twelve-year-old boys are forging the powerful bonds that a lifetime of change will not break. From sunset bike rides to shaded hiding places in the woods, the boys' days are marked by all of the secrets and silences of an idyllic middle-childhood. But amid the sundrenched cornfields their loyalty will be pitilessly tested. When a long-silent bell peals in the middle of the night, the townsfolk know it marks the end of their carefree days. From the depths of the Old Central School, a hulking fortress tinged with the mahogany scent of coffins, an invisible evil is rising. Strange and horrifying events begin to overtake everyday life, spreading terror through the once idyllic town. Determined to exorcize this ancient plague, Mike, Duane, Dale, Harlen, and Kevin must wage a war of blood—against an arcane abomination who owns the night...

Publicado:
Jul 5, 2011
ISBN:
9781429985314
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Dan Simmons, a full-time public school teacher until 1987, is one of the few writers who consistently work across genres, and perhaps the only one to have won major awards in all of them. He has produced science fiction, horror, fantasy, and mainstream fiction, and is now launching stunning works in the thriller category. His first novel, Song of Kali, won the World Fantasy Award; his first science fiction novel, Hyperion, won the Hugo Award. His other novels and short fiction have been honored with numerous accolades, including nine Locus Awards, four Bram Stoker Awards, the French Prix Cosmos 2000, the British SF Association Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Award. In 1995, Wabash College presented Simmons with an honorary doctorate in humane letters for his work in fiction and education. He lives in Colorado along the Front Range of the Rockies.

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Vista previa del libro

Summer of Night - Dan Simmons

century.

ONE

Old Central School still stood upright, holding its secrets and silences firmly within. Eighty-four years of chalkdust floated in the rare shafts of sunlight inside while the memories of more than eight decades of varnishings rose from the dark stairs and floors to tinge the trapped air with the mahogany scent of coffins. The walls of Old Central were so thick that they seemed to absorb sounds while the tall windows, their glass warped and distorted by age and gravity, tinted the air with a sepia tiredness.

Time moved more slowly in Old Central, if at all. Footsteps echoed along corridors and up stairwells, but the sound seemed muted and out of synch with any motion amidst the shadows.

The cornerstone of Old Central had been laid in 1876, the year that General Custer and his men had been slaughtered near the Little Bighorn River far to the west, the year that the first telephone had been exhibited at the nation’s Centennial in Philadelphia far to the east. Old Central School was erected in Illinois, midway between the two events but far from any flow of history.

By the spring of 1960, Old Central School had come to resemble some of the ancient teachers who had taught in her: too old to continue but too proud to retire, held stiffly upright by habit and a simple refusal to bend. Barren herself, a fierce old spinster, Old Central borrowed other people’s children over the decades.

Girls played with dolls in the shadows of her classrooms and corridors and later died in childbirth. Boys ran shouting through her hallways, sat in punishment through the growing darkness of winter afternoons in her silent rooms, and were buried in places never mentioned in their geography lessons: San Juan Hill, Belleau Wood, Okinawa, Omaha Beach, Pork Chop Hill, and Inchon.

Originally Old Central had been surrounded by pleasant young saplings, the closer elms throwing shade on the lower classrooms in the warm days of May and September. But over the years the closer trees died and the perimeter of giant elms which lined Old Central’s city block like silent sentinels grew calcified and skeletal with age and disease. A few were cut down and carted away but the majority remained, the shadows of their bare branches reaching across the playgrounds and playing fields like gnarled hands groping for Old Central herself.

Visitors to the small town of Elm Haven who left the Hard Road and wandered the two blocks necessary to see Old Central frequently mistook the building for an oversized courthouse or some misplaced county building bloated by hubris to absurd dimensions. After all, what function in this decaying town of eighteen hundred people could demand this huge three-story building sitting in a block all its own? Then the travelers would see the playground equipment and realize that they were looking at a school. A bizarre school: its ornate bronze and copper belfry gone green with verdigris atop its black, steep-pitched roof more than fifty feet above the ground; its Richardsonian Romanesque stone arches curling like serpents above twelve-foot-tall windows; its scattering of other round and oval stained-glass windows suggesting some absurd hybrid between cathedral and school; its Châteauesque, gabled roof dormers peering out above third-story eaves; its odd volutes looking like scrollworks turned to stone above recessed doors and blind-looking windows; and, striking the viewer most disturbingly, its massive, misplaced, and somehow ominous size. Old Central, with its three rows of windows rising four stories, its overhanging eaves and gabled dormers, its hipped roof and scabrous belfry, seemed much too large a school for such a modest town.

If the traveler had any knowledge of architecture at all, he or she would stop on the quiet asphalt street, step out of the car, gape, and take a picture.

But even as the picture was being snapped, an observant viewer would notice that the tall windows were great, black holes—as if they were designed to absorb light rather than admit or reflect it—and that the Richardsonian Romanesque, Second Empire, or Italianate touches were grafted onto a brutal and common style of architecture which might be described as Midwestern School Gothic, and that the final sense was not of a striking building, or even of a true architectural curiosity, but only of an oversized and schizophrenic mass of brick and stone capped with a belfry obviously designed by a madman.

A few visitors, ignoring or defying a growing feeling of unease, might make local inquiries or even go so far as drive to Oak Hill, the county seat, to look up records on Old Central. There they would find that the school had been part of a master plan eighty-some years earlier to build five great schools in the county—Northeast, Northwest, Central, Southeast, and Southwest. Of these, Old Central had been the first and only school constructed.

Elm Haven in the 1870s had been larger than it was now in 1960, thanks largely to the railroad (now in disuse) and a major influx of immigrant settlers brought south from Chicago by ambitious city planners. From a county population of 28,000 in 1875, the area had dwindled to fewer than 12,000 in the 1960 census, most of them farmers. Elm Haven had boasted 4,300 people in 1875 and Judge Ashley, the millionaire behind the settlement plans and the building of Old Central, had predicted that the town would soon pass Peoria in population and someday rival Chicago.

The architect Judge Ashley had brought in from somewhere back east—one Solon Spencer Alden—had been a student of both Henry Hobson Richardson and R.M. Hunt and his resultant architectural nightmare reflected the darker elements of the coming Romanesque Revival without the sense of grandeur or public purpose those Romanesque buildings might offer.

Judge Ashley had insisted—and Elm Haven had agreed—that the school would be built to accommodate the later, larger generations of schoolchildren which would be drawn to Creve Coeur County. Thus the building had housed not only K–6 classrooms but the high-school classrooms on the third floor—used only until the Great War—and sections which were meant to be used as the city library and even serve as space for a college when the need arrived.

No college ever came to Creve Coeur County or Elm Haven. Judge Ashley’s great home at the end of Broad Avenue burned to the ground after his son went bankrupt in the Recession of 1919. Old Central remained an elementary school through the years, serving fewer and fewer children as people left the area and consolidated schools were built in other sections of the county.

The high-school level on the third floor became redundant when the real high school opened in Oak Hill in 1920. Its furnished rooms were closed off to cobwebs and darkness. The city library was moved out of the arched Elementary section in 1939, and the upper mezzanine of shelves stood largely empty, staring down at the few remaining students who moved through the darkened halls and too-broad stairways and basement catacombs like refugees in some long-abandoned city from an incomprehensible past.

Finally, in the fall of 1959, the new city council and the Creve Coeur County School District decided that Old Central had outlived its usefulness, that the architectural monstrosity—even in its eviscerated state—was too difficult to heat and maintain, and that the final 134 Elm Haven students in grades K–6 would be moved to the new consolidated school near Oak Hill in the fall of 1960.

But in the spring of 1960, on the last day of school, only hours before she would be forced into final retirement, Old Central School still stood upright, holding its secrets and silences firmly within.

TWO

Dale Stewart sat in his sixth-grade classroom in Old Central and was quietly certain that the last day of school was the worst punishment grown-ups had ever devised for kids.

Time had slowed worse than when he was in a dentist’s office waiting, worse than when he was in trouble with his mom and had to wait for his dad to come home before punishment could be meted out, worse than …

It was bad.

The clock on the wall above Old Double-Butt’s blue-dyed head said that it was 2:43 P.M. The calendar on the wall informed him that it was Wednesday, June 1, 1960, the last day of school, the last day that Dale and the others would ever have to suffer the boredom of being locked in the belly of Old Central, but to all intents and purposes time seemed to have stopped so completely that Dale felt that he was an insect stuck in amber, like the spider in the yellowish rock Father Cavanaugh had loaned Mike.

There was nothing to do. Not even schoolwork. The sixth graders had turned in their rented textbooks by one-thirty that afternoon, Mrs. Doubbet checking off their books and meticulously inspecting each for any damage … although Dale failed to see how she could tell this year’s damage from the years of outrage already suffered by the moldy text from previous renters … and when that was finished, the classroom bizarrely empty even down to the bare bulletin boards and well-scrubbed wooden desks, Old Double-Butt had lethargically suggested that they read, even though school library books had been due the previous Friday at peril of not receiving the final report card.

Dale would have brought one of his books from home to read—perhaps the Tarzan book he had left open on the kitchen table at noon when he went home for lunch, or perhaps one of the ACE double-novel science fiction books he was reading—but though Dale read several books a week, he never thought of school as a place to read. School was a place to do worksheets, to listen to the teacher, and to give answers so simple that a chimp could have gleaned them from the textbooks.

So Dale and the other twenty-six sixth graders sat in the summer heat and high humidity as a storm darkened the skies outside and the already dim air in Old Central grew darker and summer itself seemed to recede as the clock froze its hands and the musty thickness of Old Central’s interior lay on them like a blanket.

Dale sat in the fourth desk in the second row from the right. From where he sat he could see out past the cloakroom entrance into the dark hallway and just catch a glimpse of the door to the fifth-grade class where his best friend, Mike O’Rourke, also waited for the end of the school year. Mike was the same age as Dale … was a month older actually … but had been forced to repeat fourth grade so that for the past two years the friends had been separated by the abyss of an entire grade. But Mike had taken his failure to pass fourth grade with the same aplomb he showed toward most situations—he joked about it, continued to be a leader on the playground and among Dale’s band of friends, and showed no malice toward Mrs. Grossaint, the old crone of a teacher who had failed him … Dale was sure … out of sheer malice.

Inside the classroom were some of Dale’s other close friends: Jim Harlen on the front desk of the first row where Mrs. Doubbet could keep an eye on him. Now Harlen lounged with his head on his hands, eyes flicking about the room in the dance of hyperactivity Dale also felt but tried not to show. Harlen saw Dale watching and made a face, his mouth as elastic as Silly

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73 valoraciones / 28 Reseñas
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  • (3/5)
    Really great horror book... the camaraderie of the boys reminded me of 'Stand by Me' (Stephen King). There's just something about a group of kids in the 60's who come together to defeat evil... Love it!
  • (5/5)
    Summer of Night follows a group of boys as they finally get out of school for the summer and begin to prepare for the fun-filled days ahead of them, or so they think. Unknown to them, an ancient force is trying to resurrect itself thanks to the help of people in their town who have committed treacherous sins in order to gain power that was promised by this force. When members of their group start to die, the boys expand their friendships in many ways, and do their best to fight off this entity and make sure that it will never again walk the face of the Earth.An absolutely wonderful novel from Dan Simmons. This was the first book of his that I have read and I will definitely look forward to the next one I find. It may start a little slow, but it quickly hastens the pace, and never stops after a certain point. Definitely a must for horror, coming of age, or supernatural readers, as it provides many characteristics of these genres, as well as others in an amazing way. I loved this book.
  • (4/5)
    It’s the summer of 1960 and in the small town of Elm Haven, Illinois, five twelve-year-old boys are forging the powerful bonds that a lifetime of change will not break. From sunset bike rides to shaded hiding places in the woods, the boys’ days are marked by all of the secrets and silences of an idyllic middle-childhood. But amid the sundrenched cornfields their loyalty will be pitilessly tested. When a long-silent bell peals in the middle of the night, the townsfolk know it marks the end of their carefree days. From the depths of the Old Central School, a hulking fortress tinged with the mahogany scent of coffins, an invisible evil is rising. Strange and horrifying events begin to overtake everyday life, spreading terror through the once idyllic town. Determined to exorcize this ancient plague, Mike, Duane, Dale, Harlen, and Kevin must wage a war of blood—against an arcane abomination who owns the night...

    Nostalgic, reminiscence Gothic tale crossed with Stephen King’s IT.

    "Few events in a human being's life--at least a male human being's life--are as free, as exuberant, as infinitely expansive and filled with potential as the first day of summer when one is an eleven-year-old boy"

    I love the way Dan Simmons writes and here he is pitch perfect capturing that uniquely childhood experience of that first day of the holidays with the whole of summer stretching out in front of you filled with anticipation, fun and adventure…maybe a little too much adventure in this case

    Summer of Night boasts a fascinating cast of characters, relationships, conflicts and horrors set in the in the bucolic town of Elm Haven, Illinois in 1960.

    Beautiful writing with characters you care about, the author does a wonderful a job of visualising Gothic midwestern America.

    Clever, frightening, and gripping and highly recommended
  • (5/5)
    Reminiscent of the scenes in Stephen King's It when the characters are children, this novel also features a group of pre-teens entering adolescence while their town is threatened by a malevolent force. Featuring a haunted schoolhouse, zombies, and more than enough scares to chill any horror fan, this one is very much recommended. Even King himself gave a rave review.
  • (4/5)
    This started out as what I thought was going to be a boy's-coming-of-age-over-the-summer type of book, sort of like Robert McCammon's BOY'S LIFE. But then not too far into the story, things got freaky. Weird stuff and then more weird stuff. Pretty soon I was wondering what was happening and how was everything going to be explained. Then it got scary, real scary! It no longer resembled what I thought it was and instead turned into a teenagers-against-the-evil-creatures type of book. It is extremely well written with good characterization and a plot that insinuates itself into you without you knowing it. Additionally core characters to the book get injured and killed leaving you not knowing what will happen or to whom. This is the first book in a while that has scared me while reading it. Something to be definitely enjoyed!!
  • (5/5)
    The last day of school means quite a few things for the small Illinois town of Elm Haven. For most kids, it's the beginning of a well-deserved summer vacation, free from books, tests, and teachers. For the town, it brings the end of an era as the Old Central school will close its doors for the last time. But for a few twelve-year-old boys, it brings an adventure none of them could have ever imagined.It all begins when Tubby Cooke goes missing on the last day of school. None of the other children sees him leave, though the principal and a few teachers insist that he ran off before the last bell finished echoing through the halls. Duane McBride feels differently. He's always felt that something was odd about the school, and he convinces his friends Mike O'Rourke, Jim Harlen, Dale and Lawrence Stewart, and Kevin Grumbacher, that Tubby didn't run away, and that the answer lies somewhere inside Old Central. While the rest of the gang spies around town, Duane tracks the history of the school and finds disturbing information about its past and a mysterious bell. But the trouble has already started: a ghostly soldier with a melting face tries to get at Mike's grandmother; the town's rendering trunk comes to life and seems Hell bent on running the boys down; the darkness beneath beds or in closets or in the far corners of basements appears almost alive; and long muddy furrows begin to appear throughout the town, emanating from Old Central and heading to each of the boys' houses.Under cover of night, the boys must find a way to stop the darkness that's been set in motion before it consumes them and the town."Summer of Night" is the grand adventure we all wanted to take during summer breaks, biking and exploring with friends, but author Dan Simmons twists it into a nightmare that no one could have imagined. It's part mystery, trying to uncover the dark secrets of Old Central and the bell that hangs hidden in the boarded up belfry, and part horror, not only creating a unique monster that seems to be everywhere at once, but it touches on childhood fears of the dark. Lawrence Stewart has a terrible fear of what might be lurking beneath his bed; his brother Dale never did like the dark space behind the boiler in the basement. Simmons' nightmarish creation uses those fears against the boys with some terrifying results.Imaginative and horrific, just the kind of tale that I enjoy, and once I started, I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning reading, not wanting to put the book down.
  • (5/5)
    Staring at the clock, watching the minute hand creep towards the end of another school year with summer vacation only moments away, we are introduced to the last group of students attending Old Central School. As the minutes tick by, a fifth-grader walks the hallway down to the boys’ bathroom intent on completing his recent act of vandalism, breaking through one of the walls. He disappears. An eerie scream is heard throughout the school as the final bell rings and the handful of students seem disturbed by the sound are quickly assured by the teachers the noise is due to the age of the building. It’s 1960 in Elm Haven, Illinois, a small community surrounded by cornfields and seeded with a haunted past that has re-awakened, attempting to claim the town. The only obstacle to achieving that goal is the bicycle patrol, consisting of Mike, Dale, Lawrence, Jim, Kevin, and Duane. Dan Simmons has created a wonderful, nostalgic glimpse into a childhood past with the activities of his protagonists. Saturday night free movies at the makeshift drive-in, lazy days of sleeping in, dirt-clod wars, swimming in the nearby water-hole, and pup-tent camping. What would normally be a tale of growing up in small town America, becomes a background to the more sinister plot of an ancient evil resurrected, and using the community leaders to further its influence. Losing the innocence of youth to the realities and sometimes harsher consequences of adult decisions, we watch this group of youngsters grow and cope with the evil that only they seem to be able to see and confront. There are strong resemblances to other coming of age stories set in a horror genre, and Simmons does a nice job of building and fleshing out most of his characters while slowly introducing the monsters under the bed. I didn’t want to put this one down, not because it allowed me to keep the light on during the night, but that I wanted to see just how ingenious the tenacious youths would be in the final showdown. Ah but for the glory days of summer, where one could jump on a bicycle and roam the neighborhoods for hours, with no cares or worries except to be home for dinner.
  • (5/5)
    Dan Simmons was well-cemented in place as one of my favorite authors before I read this book - this just raises him that much more in my esteem. The man can write in apparently every genre with the same level of intensity. Summer of Night tells the tale of six boys who have just finished the sixth grade (well, one of them is actually a couple of years behind) at the same time that their school - a more-than-one-hundred-year-old building - is being closed for good. But, as they prepare for an adventurous summer vacation, an ancient evil seeks to complete a transformation that began when the school was built.The story is replete with the stuff of which adolescent nightmares are made ... and symbolic, perhaps? I don't know what Simmons' intent was when he wrote the book, and the introduction that accompanies this edition does not preclude the possibility of this, but there is plenty of reason to wonder if some of the things that happen, and the principals involved, could well stand as symbols of many of the things involved in the passage into "teen-hood." And that just increases my estimation of Dan Simmons' writing.One of the characters in the book is apparently Simmons' representation of himself. The story is set in a small town in Illinois (where Simmons apparently grew up), it takes place in 1960, when Simmons would have been around 12 years old, and the protagonists are - by and large - 12, as well. Enjoy!!!
  • (5/5)
    In the vein of Stand By Me and It by Stephen King.Real page turner.Characters with depth.Dan Simmons is a terrific writer,his prose raises his novels above pop fiction to literature.
  • (4/5)
    Not bad...interesting but fell apart at the end for me (but a lot of books do).
  • (4/5)
    Old Central School still stood upright, holding its secrets and silences firmly within. Eighty-four years of chalkdust floated in the rare shafts of sunlight inside while the memories of more than eight decades of varnishings rose from the dark stairs and floors to tinge the trapped air with the mahogany scent of coffins. The walls of Old Central were so thick that they seemed to absorb sounds while the tall windows , their glass warped and distorted by age and gravity, tinted the air with a sepia tiredness. . . .By the spring of 1960, Old Central School had come to resemble some of the ancient teachers who had taught in her: too old to continue but too proud to retire, held stiffly upright by habit and a simple refusal to bend. Barren herself, a fierce old spinster, Old Central borrowed other people's children over the decades." (from the first page of [Summer of Night])It is summer of 1960, and Old Central School has completed its last year as an active shcool. A group of friends, most of them having just completed 6th grade, are ready for summer fun. But it's not going to be an easy summer. Something Evil is afoot. A boy has disappeared. A dead soldier is wandering about. The odorous Rendering Truck roams the streets in search of more than dead animals. There are rumors of a cursed Bell. And something is slithering under the ground. . .I love the writing in this book. I love the warm scenes of ordinary small-town circa 1960s life juxtaposed against vivid descriptions of the dark horror of Evil that is enveloping the town. Simmons takes his time with descriptions that pull the reader back into small-town life the summer of 1960. There are mentions Huntley & Brinkley and the nomination of JFK. There are marvelous passages that bring small town/rural life alive to the reader. Some might say he describes too much -- at 600 pages, this book isn't a quick read. But without being rooted in that solid sense of a real place and time, I'm not sure this story would work nearly as well as it does.There are also things straight out of the author's chilling imagination. This is a horror novel, populated with the undead and other things that go bump (and slither and scratch) in the night. A certain suspension of disbelief is required of the reader -- not only regarding supernatural things, but also about the actions of these kids in fighting that Powerful Evil. But the author taps into an arsenal of natural childhood fears; fear of the dark, of something in the closet or under the bed; a reluctance to go into the basement, the threat of a menacing truck. Indeed, he does so much with the dreaded, odorous "Rendering Truck" that I wonder if a real-life version of such a truck was part of the writer's actual childhood terrors.This is a classic Good vs. Evil tale. Some of it's rather gross, and the ending (as with many horror novels) is a bit much. But I enjoyed it.
  • (5/5)
    School is out in the small Ohio town of Elm Haven. This will be the last class of Old Central built in 1876. The atmosphere has always been less than pleasant but now it is perpetrated with evil beyond imagination. The kids of Elm Haven sense this evil and are determined to fight it but the entity has lived too long to give in easily. The advantage is that few adults will believe them if they told. The book is filled with how life was in small town America 45 years ago. It will really bring back memories. You can almost smell the corn growing as you remember lazy summers of your childhood. If you like really good horror stories then this is just your ticket.
  • (4/5)
    I'm not a fan of horror novels. I usually find them just plain dumb, but I really enjoyed this story. I found the story interesting and it was frightful and tense where it should be. It starts out a little slow and boring but it picks up. The way he wrote about the kids and their lives made me nostalgic for an era I didn't even live in. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to dig in to a creepy story.
  • (4/5)
    In Dan Simmons’ Summer of Night, an ancient and forgotten evil comes to life in the small town of Elm Haven, Illinois, where a close-knit group of recently graduated sixth graders are among the few to realize it’s happening, and soon understand they are the only ones who can deal with it.

    Though a terrific work of horror, Summer of Night is much more than that. It’s a coming-of-age tale that deftly recalls what it’s like to be eleven-years-old, no longer a kid, but yet not truly adolescent either. It affectionately captures hot, sweaty summer days of riding bikes, playing sandlot baseball, camping out, long days spent in the woods, and a nascent and budding interest in the opposite sex.

    It also quite cleverly captures a time, the year 1960, with black and white background images of Democrats nominating Kennedy, and the first satellites being sent into space; and a place, the dying town of Elm Haven, Illinois, which doesn’t know that it’s dying.

    The source of the horror both stretches credulity and is quite clever. Then again, it doesn’t matter what causes the World War I soldier to come out of his grave and stalk one of the character’s grandmothers. It doesn’t matter how the lamprey creatures can burrow and surface and dive into asphalt as easily as a dolphin in water. And it certainly doesn’t matter what caused the interior of Old Central School to become ensconced in viscous fluids, pulsing eggsacks, and fleshy tentacles. What matters is it has happened and must be dealt with.

    One of the things I find interesting about reading an obviously semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale is trying to determine exactly which character is the author. In this book, there are many to choose from. There’s altar boy and all-around good guy Mike O’Rourke; earnest Dale Stewart and his younger brother Lawrence. There’s wiseass Jim Harlen, and quietly strong Kevin Grumbacher. And in the background, hovering over them all, is the bookish and brilliant (and doomed) Duane McBride.

    Though it becomes obvious toward the end which character most resembles Simmons, I’m struck upon every re-reading just how fully drawn each of the characters is, and can’t help but think there’s a little bit of Simmons in all of them.

    What strikes me most upon each re-reading of this book is the universality of it. Though I wasn’t born at the time this book takes place, it captures my own perhaps romanticized memories of my youth, hot summer days playing baseball and hanging out with friends, of riding bikes and camping out and playing in the woods. That may be why I re-read this book every few years or so.

    It’s always good to catch up with old friends.
  • (5/5)
    I really like Dan Simmons, he writes in so many different genres that I find it hard to believe that he does them all so well, but he really does. This is one of Dan's horror novels. One of my favorite types of novels are those that show a group of youngesters, usually pre-teens, set back in the 60s that are plagued by and must fight some sort of evil. Summer of Night compares well with classics like McCammons, Boys Life or Stephen Kings It. Simmons brings to life the times and scenary of the early 60s small midwestern town. These boys must fight a supernatural evil that plagues their town. Simmons is a master of settings and character development in the books of his I have read so far. He definitely succeeded in this novel bringing the characters to life. I recommend this one whole heartedly and look forward to picking up the sequel to this one soon.
  • (5/5)
    I'm sold. I'll be reading all the sequels. The best summer reading ever. The best terror. Like Stephen King crossed with Ray Bradbury. And WHY hasn't this been made into a movie? Hollywood is truly dead on its feet. Someone pull the plug and give it to this guy.A delicious summertime tale of spinetingling adventures and terror. CREEPY! and delightful. All at once. How does he do it?! It's the first Dan Simmons book I've ever read, and I'm very pleased so far. The story centers around a group of young boys and the gigantic gothic Old Central school building that looms over their Illinois town. Ghostly and grisly happenings and the magic elements of summer vacation mix together and produce startling results (so far). Perfect summer reading.
  • (5/5)
    I read the reviews before buying this audiobook, and was surprised by the vast differences in reviewer opinion. For some, the book was too long, and others never wanted it to end. This novel is long, but if you grew up in the 50,s 60;s, or 70;s, you will probably feel a sense of nostalgia. If you grew up before those decades, I would imagine the book would seem wordy and too lengthy.Summer of Night falls somwhere between "It" and "Stand By Me" in the dewey decimal system of your mind, which are both by Stehen King. I loved this novel, and think the writing vividly depicts a coming- of- age story involving several teen boys. They cus, they drink, they go on adventures. They have good parents, they have awful parents, and they rely on each other.There is the issue of childhood death in this story along with the parental grief that follows. That kind of raw emotion has always been difficult for me to take as a reader, but Simmons manages to make it part of the overall horror story instead of an emotional mess.The writing is good, I got lost in the book, and I really liked the characters and the charater development. Dan John Miller was an excellent choie for narration.
  • (5/5)
    similar to Stephen King's IT in plot (children battle evil) but still a GREAT read
  • (4/5)
    very good and interesting but the end was a little anticlimactic...still worth the read though
  • (5/5)
    Wonderful! Dan Simmons never disappoints me. You should read this.
  • (3/5)
    Good story but too long and drawn out. Got bored in places.
  • (5/5)
    Great Read. A different world. Nostalgic feel good mixed with touches of horror and science fiction. Definitely recommended!!!
  • (5/5)
    This is a rarity - a truly scary book. Truly.
  • (2/5)
    I thought it was boring. I did not finish it.
  • (4/5)

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    After reading THE TERROR a few years ago, I knew Dam Simmons could write, but I didn’t know how well he could write until I finished SUMMER OF NIGHT, a book that was a Christmas gift which sat on my shelf a few years too long – I was really denying myself a great read. Simmons’ mastery of character, place and time is among the best, and the traits of a true storyteller.At first glance, SUMMER OF NIGHT appears to be nothing more than another nostalgic coming of age horror story set in a small town in 1960; the kind where only the adolescent protagonists catch on to the supernatural evil in their midst and have to fight it on their own. This plot is an old horror trope, same for the small town in America with dark secrets no one will talk about, where and ancient evil has lain dormant until just the right moment to come back to life, but these seeming clichés are so well handled by Simmons, the reader hardly notices. The central characters are a group of boys around the age of 12, some slightly older, others slightly younger, who are best buds in the 6th grade at the Old Central Elementary School in Elm Haven, Illinois. Their home situations are varied and different, so are their temperaments and personalities; one of the great strengths of this book is how much Simmons makes you care about and fear for Duane, Jim, Mike, Kevin, Dale and Lawrence. And their small town world is so well laid out that the reader will come to see it perfectly in their minds: the tree lined streets and the stores on Main, the dirt country roads with cornfields on either side. We can feel the heat and smell the humidity ahead of a thunder storm. One of the essentials of these stories is a well established sense of mood and place and Simmons pulls it off with flying colors.Though it is set in the summer of 1960, Simmons does not turn it into a trip back to AMERICAN GRAFFITI, instead the nostalgia the author evokes is for a time when the most priceless thing a boy could own was a second hand bicycle, followed by a baseball glove. A time when kids had the freedom on summer vacation to walk out the door first thing in the morning and not come back until dinner was on the table and no one thought anything of it. It’s a nostalgia for a time when kids were expected to amuse themselves for hours on end in a time before childhood and adolescence were overwhelmed by a loud, overbearing and ostentatiously sexy popular culture that treated kids like consumers; a time when small towns still thrived, long before automation, outsourcing, globalization and Wal Mart were even on the horizon. It might be the summer of ‘60, but the nomination of JFK is mentioned maybe twice as an event that is happening very far away. On the last day of school, one of the boy’s classmates, Tubby Cook, goes missing in Old Central, the same day that the peal of a long silent bell is heard. Soon our young protagonists begin to suspect that their teachers and principle were involved in the disappearance. As they try to get to the bottom of the mystery, a figure in a World War I uniform is seen lurking on the back roads, faces appear at windows in the night while other figures lurk in the darkness; shadows dart out of closets and hide under beds, things stir inside crawlspaces and basements; holes leading to tunnels under the earth are found, and as they learn more, a huge rendering truck begins to stalk the kids. Though they might be scared as hell, they also have plenty of grit, and knowing that the adults would not believe them, the boys – along with one girl - decide take on the evil in their midst, a battle that ultimately becomes a war – one that claims casualties before the final confrontation. There is a twist about half way through the book, one that will leave many readers picking their jaws up off the floor, while others will be profoundly grief stricken. The fact that so many fans of this book have commented on their emotional reaction to this event is one sign this book has really connected. My favorite scene is when Jim and Dale turn the tables on the town’s punk ass bully and back him down when they are forced to turn to him for help in a particularly desperate moment. The section of the book where the kids attempt to bait the evil rendering truck into a showdown is among the best things I’ve read in a horror novel in a very long time. And among the well drawn supporting characters, none stands out better than Cordie Cook, one tough piece of white trash; only tell her that at your peril.The book is not perfect, one flaw is the villain, whose motivation and objective is never made clear – it’s just an ancient evil that takes possession of those closest to it. But that is a weakness of many, many horror tomes. At least one character, Mink Harper, the town drunk, is brought in at one point to just relate, in great detail, pertinent information from the past to Mike; another trope that many horror writers use. SUMMER OF NIGHT can be described as a slow build, it takes it’s time setting the stage, but it is so well written by Simmons, that I didn’t mind; the chapters are just as long as they need to be, the character POV’s are will established and the sentence structure flows naturally, helped along with a great ear for metaphor and simile. SUMMER OF NIGHT is often compared to Stephen King’s IT, and it is an apt comparison, but for me, SUMMER might just be the better book. It’s much shorter than King’s work and the story stays within the past, my paperback copy comes in just under 500 pages. It has been a few decades since I read IT, and though the book is one of King’s most popular, I remember it as bloated and indulgent in some parts; all of the contemporary story elements could have been edited out, leaving just the story of the kids in Derry, Maine in the 50’s, and it would have been a better book. And Simmons never lets his young heroes go off the rails like King lets his young protagonists do – I’m talking about that certain scene in the sewers, and if you’ve read King’s book, you know what I mean. One thing IT has over SUMMER is villains; nothing can top Pennywise the Clown.One last thing, why hasn’t SUMMER OF NIGHT not been made into a movie? Its cast of young characters would be perfect for Stephen Spielberg; would love to have seen what POLTERGEIST era Tobe Hooper could have done with it. Someone in Hollywood has dropped the ball.

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  • (3/5)

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    I enjoyed the story for the most part. The scary parts are really good, suspenseful and lots of twists in the story. What kills the book for me is all the back story, it was too much and kept taking me out of the story. Then there’s the old character arcs that need to be retired and never written about again. Not all boys growing up in the 40’s are misogynistic. Not all single female school teachers are fat and stupid. Not all single mothers are considered sluts by their school age sons. Not all school age girls are inept, fat, or have speech impediments.

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  • (4/5)

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    A wonderful novel! Simmons' tale of good overcoming evil in a small American town during the early 60's is a jewel. Just read it and escape into the lives of the characters as they overcome their personal fears and self doubt to destroy the evil that threatens to overcome everything they have grown to love. There are other important themes and issues such as loyalty, courage, death, and parental neglect. My only tiny criticism which does not detract from the quality of the text is the annoying use of 'got, get, and gotten' used by American writers. I just wish they would use other terms such as achieved, received, earned etc. Once again, an excellent, exciting and well constructed novel.

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  • (3/5)
    Other reviewers have stated what this book lacks much more clearly and concisely than I can, but basically the faults can be summed up thus: inconsistencies, needless repetition of description, long uneventful "fillerish" scenes, forgettable characters and conspicuous derivation from more popular works such as IT by Stephen King, which is a far better work in every respect. In addition to the problems already mentioned, the author's prose was not up to par and felt very mediocre in many passages. Expect faulty grammar and illogical, confusing syntax.

    Now for the good. The book isn't entirely bad, otherwise I could not have finished it. This book would have been a lot better if it were shortened by about 200 pages. There are some great descriptions in this book and instances of lovely writing. Unfortunately, they are just too few and far between. When action does occur, which is rarely, it is very entertaining and suspenseful. You can tell Simmons is a good writer, but it just seems as if this is the original manuscript copy and no editing or revision has been done at all. Too bad.