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)
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.
Dan Simmons is one of my favorite writers. I've previously read Song of Kali, the Hyperion Cantos, Carrion Comfort, and Prayers to Broken Stones. I sometimes feel apprehension when reading a previously unread novel by an author I've come to love, because of the potential disappointment when the spell is broken. It's been broken (and redeemed) many times by Stephen King.
No worries then, on Summer of Night! This is a story reminiscent of two other novels I know, both by Stephen King: It and The Body (which appeared in Different Seasons and was the basis for the movie Stand By Me). I would not say that this is a derivative work, however. Simmons has his own ideas and agendas. The story is thrilling and the characters are rich and diverse, and though it sounds hackneyed, the portrait of small town life is on the money. If you've ever been afraid of your elementary school basement or hung out with a clever group of school kids, this book will resonate with you. Despite the age of the kids in the story, this is not a juvenile work and deserves a mature audience rating for violence (though not really more so than The Illiad), language (though again, probably not more so than Slaughter House Five), etc.
There may be some in-jokes or nods in Summer of Night. Duane may be a particular version of the detective in Carrion Comfort. I believe that the character Harland is a playful nod to Harlan Ellison, given their similar attitudes and, well, vernacular.
By way of explanation, I do not practice "inflation" in my ratings. I give the story four stars only because five stars is reserved for excellent works of deep significant: Ulysses, The Grapes of Wrath, Dune, The Name of the Rose, Shogun, and works of this level. Catcher in the Rye would be a four-star by my reckoning.
The audiobook was among the best performed that I've listened to. It was certainly well above the recording of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (which often sounded like an Al Franken SNL skit).
That said the presentation is well done and I enjoyed it, however, the narration was well done until it came to ANY dialogue between the main characters (all children) at which point the narrator chose the obnoxious tactic of making his voice soft, squeaky, or soft and squeaky to differentiate between them. The most obnoxious of these was for the only young female character, Cordelia Cook. Her voice is described as a monotone in the book and not only is it not a monotone but the squeaky nature of the reading of her dialogue is almost unbearable at times.
This is one of my favorite books and I read my copy until the cover fell apart so I'm willing to concede that I may be biased to some degree however the irritating vocal choices bothered me so much that I found I had to force myself to finish the book.
Listen to the preview before buying.
If you liked "The Goonies" and "Stand by me" with a twist of Dean Koontz you will enjoy this story. It's nice to have someone read it to you too, it gives you a differant perspective on emotions and characters.
I am an artist, living in Cairns, Queensland, Australia right next to the Great Barrier Reef. I listen to audiobooks everyday while making art and on into the night. I really like mysteries with a good serving of suspense on the side that keep you wondering right to the end. However, I won't say no to any entertaining and well written book which has been read by an excellent narrator.
I enjoyed this book immensely. Yes there was 'horror' but not the kind when you're scared to turn the next page, or decide to skip it altogether. I guess you could say it was mild to middling horror. There was heaps of suspense though, and the story progressed so well it was hard to put down. Dialogue between the characters was written well and the character development was excellent. I would welcome more of this genre from Mr Simmons.
Sci Fi Reader
This is a great book, kind of a scary stand by me. A little Super 8. Perfectly narrated. I wish it did not have to end.
So Many Books, So Little Time...
Its in the realm of It. You have a group of children fighting against a force that adults refuse to see or acknowledge. In this group you also have diverse social differences.
He was able to make a clear representation of each character
No. I finished in a little over a week
The imagery, sense of nostalgia, and suspense made for an awesome experience.
I don't usually rush out for all the "best sellers", but give each intriguing book/author a look. I have found many diamonds in the rough.
I read "The Winter Haunting" which is the sequel to this book. On Goodreads it shoes these books as a trilogy called The Seasons of Horror, I cannot find these books grouped together as a trilogy anywhere else. After reading the reviews for the 2nd book in the trilogy called "The Children of the Night", I realized that not one of the reviewers spoke of this book or the 3rd, "The Winter calling". The first and the third do go together. The characters in this book are a group of friends when they are tweens and then in the third one, (Dale), one of the boys, returns to the town as an adult right before Halloween to do some writing in peace. Confusing? Yes.
Anyway, this was a good horror that starts with a blood curdling scream and the disappearance of a young man inside of a soon to be condemned school, the day before summer break is to start. When strange sightings and odd deaths start to follow a group of young buddies, they feel obligated and pressed by fear to take things into their own hands, especially when none of the adults will believe them, and/or will have them admitted to the crazy house.
Yes; scary, gross, ruthless Vampires are at the heart of the deaths. This is not a nice Vampire story and yes, people are horribly mudered. The tweens must come up with an idea of how to rid the town of these gruesome creatures. Their very different personalities help them to develope and execute an elaborate but believable plan that puts all of their lives in serious danger. They all know going into this dangerous situation that is neccesary for the safety of the town, themselves and their loved ones.
This book was a mix of "Stand by Me" and "Salems Lot". It was a good story and I liked it, however, I liked the next one, (The Winter Haunting), as well if not better, it was more of a ghost story and wicked, goosebump, good. Perfect for Halloween.
Even though I was 2 years old in 1960 (the year in which Summer of Night is set), I found Simmons evocation of the summer vacations we baby-boomers enjoyed markedly similar to those we experienced in Texas during the 1960's. I think that, as children, we were able to enjoy the simplicity of those years in a way that people of other generations could not. We hung between the past and the future: we still played the games our parents did as children but the Space Age and the Beatles promised us futures filled with amazing, undreamed of lives to come.
Dan John Miller gives this book it's due. His ability to slip into a variety of characters of different gender, background and age is marvelous. He never gives the sense that this is his first time to see the book, the way some performers do. And when the text describes a character as coughing or laughing while speaking, etc., he does it in a most natural way, which can be difficult for some to do without being awkward.
Oh, Summer of Night is definitely a horror book. It is scary, scary, scary. But much of what makes it so effective are Simmons' characterizations, his almost poetic descriptions and the ability to twist several elements of horror stories into something completely new. It really can appeal to quite a large number of diverse readers.
Simmons immerses the reader into the setting of that summer in 1960 Illinois with his almost hypnotic use of prose. I felt that I could almost feel the summer heat, crawling up hot rocks barefoot, splashing into the local swimming hole and riding my bicycle over dusty, unpaved roads. He provides us with the atmosphere of iced lemonade, nights on front porch swings under yellow outdoor lights and the the ever-present song of summer insects such as cicadas and crickets. And, most importantly, the tightly bound friendships that children believe will last forever.
I want to take one paragraph to touch on the characters in the book. It is so easy to view them as real people that you might discover yourself loving some and hating some, and wishing you could have been there to help them. I am reading a book right now, Children of the Night, in which one of the boys plays a major role. It was delightful to see him as a grown up. I hope we get to see more.
"Spellbinding horror in a sleepy town"
Remember all those movies that came out when we were kids, about other kids getting into trouble and solving smuggling mysteries or uncovering old buried treasure all the while their parents had no idea and just wanted them back for dinner on time? This is that movie, cranked up to max! I thoroughly enjoyed it!
"Stand By Me with zombies"
The school holidays are just starting and the boys are delighted that the school is being demolished. Days of bike riding and baseball are interrupted when a school child goes missing and the boys take it upon themselves to police their town. Their sleuthing puts them in danger, but it's not a physical threat, something otherworldly is going on..... does the recently closed down school house more than desks and blackboards?
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