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 childhood. But amid the sun-drenched 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-peaceful 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....
©2011 Dan Simmons (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
“Impressive...combines beautiful writing and suspense into a book for which Dan Simmons deserves the bestseller status of King and Koontz.” (The Denver Post)
“One can only wonder what Simmons will do next, now that he’s shown us he can do everything the best writers in horror and science fiction can do.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
“It stands with the best of King and Straub in the traditional modern horror genre.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Struggled to finish...got too "over the top" sci-fi for me and I didn't really connect with the young characters.
Looking for the next best horror, ghost, paranormal, apocalyptic book out there. Especially if it has a full cast.
I was tentative about choosing this for my next credit for several reasons. It was longer than I was in the mood for and I had neither read anything by Dan Simmons nor heard anything by Dan John Miller. So this was a total flip of the coin for me. I'm glad I landed on 'heads'.
The fact that this was written over 25 years ago was another reason I decided to give it a try. In an era of self-publishing there are so many awful books with the same tired storyline. The label "bestselling" means almost absolutely nothing to me now. According to Amazon every other book is now by a "bestselling" author or part of a "bestselling" series. This novel was amazingly refreshing and deserves to be more widely recognized.
I was immediately drawn in by the smooth prose and vibrant descriptions. And although the book centers on a group of children it is in no shape or form a YA novel. Simmons' ability to take us into the inner workings of each kids minds in such a way that you feel yourself relating to them is remarkable. They become much more than just a story... suddenly they are your own personal childhood friends. Before I knew it I found myself so emotionally invested that I was listening to it every second I could. Add to that the brilliant narration of Mr. Miller and you have an ideal combo.
I would easily rank this as one of my favorites to date and would have no problem recommending others to listen to it. I wish there were more out there with both a winning story and exceptional narrator.
I am a selective Stephen King fan in my younger days and thought this may be similar to some of my favorites. Turns out it was just too creepy. Never made it through the first segment. For those who enjoy the supernatural, this is probably a good read. I just couldn't get on board with this one. Some of the voices used by the narrator were a stretch, but wasn't a problem for me.
I have followed S. King for years. I snagged this because of S. Kings review.
I was impressed immediately. The depth of description, detail and characters deserves kudos.
Narrator was great. Since my genre is horror I am frequently disappointed and will return the book for my credit back depending on how crap the book was. In this case I am super happy part two is already available and can't wait to get it.
I will defiantly be reading more from this author !
Get it. Enjoy the ride!
Rabbits and other furry creatures are our FRIENDS! They are NOT food or fur! ~Namaste~
I don't know which was written first, but I'm guessing King's Bachman story "The Body" and then his early novel "It," one of my least-favorites of his. This book reminded me so much of both those stories that if it wasn't written by someone of Simmon's stature, I'd be wondering how much of it was truly original work. Just universal themes, most likely; boogeymen that come up from the ground, coming-of-age stories about a group of friends whose friendships are tested, as are their personal integrity, loyalty, etc. Since neither of these topics really grab me (for personal reasons), this isn't one of my favorite works by Dan Simmons, who I find to be a wonderful storyteller. I can't give anything of his lower than 4 stars, so that's why I scored him 4, instead of the 5 I usually give him.
I didn't catch that this book is part of a series but I don't mind. I just will not continue to the next book. This book was a fun thriller that leaves one thinking: Is this a creature story or zombie?
If you're thinking a story about a group of children in an idyllic small town forced to confront an ancient evil that all the grown-ups are unconsciously aware of but refuse to do anything about sounds familiar, it's probably because you read Stephen King's It, which remains the definitive novel about a group of children in an idyllic small town forced to confront an ancient evil that all the grown-ups are unconsciously aware of but refuse to do anything about.
I'm not sure if Dan Simmons was writing a tribute to King, or was inspired by him, or thought he could do better, or just happened to come up with a similar idea. But it's hard to avoid comparisons and hard to believe Simmons wrote this in a vacuum, unaware of the book he was very nearly imitating.
Unlike It, the core group of friends is all boys, though the class misfit, an odd, ugly girl who everyone assumes is retarded but turns out to be just a quiet survivor does eventually join them. Cory, the girl with the shotgun who casually forces the pair of bullies (naturally, there is a pair of bullies, like every other stock character type) to back down, was one of the more interesting characters, while I often had a hard time distinguishing between the boys. There is Duane, the brilliant, fat, well-read farmboy, and Mike, the pious altar boy who's friends with the local priest, and Dale, who has the obligatory little brother who will have to be rescued, and Harlen, who has the resentful slut single mother, and Kevin, with the closest thing to a normal home life. Those bits of characterization and background sum up their identities, and while they all behave like believable twelve-year-old boys, I can't say any of them were really memorable the way King's characters are.
The ancient evil in the town of Elm Haven turns out to be related to the "Borgia Bell," supposedly an ancient bell imported by one of the town forefathers and installed in the tower of the big, spooky high school. Duane, the scholarly farmboy, is the first to realize something bad is happening around town when another boy goes missing, and as he and his friends begin to sense the bad juju gathering around them, they start investigating, while dodging the psychotic town bullies, unhelpful and/or sinister adults, and occasionally dealing with even scarier creatures - girls - in a handful of scenes that were a little bit cringeworthy, and even seemed to also emulate the rather skeevy ending to Stephen King's It.
If I hadn't read It, I would probably be less critical of this book. It's got horror and small town Americana and captures effectively what I think Simmons was trying to achieve, the feeling of being a kid standing on the border between childhood innocence and the deadly terror of pitiless reality. The climactic scenes are violent and action-packed and of course you're meant to cheer for the kids who save the town. But besides feeling like Stephen King did it first and better, this is also a rather slow-moving horror story... whereas King had Pennywise show up in chapter one, Simmons spends the first part of the book only hinting at supernatural horrors, and it's a long time before either the protagonists or the reader have any real idea of what they're up against.
Like King, Simmons requires a few blood sacrifices. Like King, Simmons includes tweens engaging in dubious sexual behavior. Like King, Simmons can evoke really nasty and scary creatures who are more than just ghosts and vampires. Summer of Night is not a bad horror novel, but it's just not as good, nor as deeply creepy and unsettling, as King.
"The mystery does not get clearer by repeating the question..." --Rumi
This was a thoroughly enjoyable piece of horror fiction that I couldn't help thinking would be most appreciated by children if it weren't a wee bit inappropriate for said audience. I would have loved it as a kid but I read all sorts of stuff I probably shouldn't have. All the main characters are children (around 11) who actually DO something about the adversity facing them and don't have to rely on the unbelieving adults around them. I used to hate when I wasn't taken seriously as a kid and how some books often belittled the young. I would write crazy stories about kids doing all sorts of "grownup" things. This book would have satisfied me in spades!
There were lots of nice atmospheric touches (like the creepy, driver-obscured, red rendering truck full of stinking carcasses that lurks about) and great characters (like my favorite: the filthy, overweight, unapologetic, white trash, badass little girl and her shotgun).
Plain and simple it's fantastic brain candy and the King comparisons are apt but I like this better because it's somehow far less sentimental.
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