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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

“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)

What listeners say about Summer of Night

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A Strong RIval of Stephen King's Best Work

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.

30 people found this helpful

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Excellent well-developed thriller / youth story

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).

69 people found this helpful

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Go Ahead...Take A Stroll Down Horror Lane


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.

95 people found this helpful

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One of my favorite books



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.

37 people found this helpful

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Dan Simmons has a lot of strings in his bow.

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.

19 people found this helpful

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It took me away

Would you consider the audio edition of Summer of Night to be better than the print version?

Yes

What other book might you compare Summer of Night to and why?

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.

What about Dan John Miller’s performance did you like?

He was able to make a clear representation of each character

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. I finished in a little over a week

Any additional comments?

The imagery, sense of nostalgia, and suspense made for an awesome experience.

8 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

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.

17 people found this helpful

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Nothing can prepare you for"Summer of Night"

When I was a young kid growing up on the farm in Loveland, Colorado I too had a group of friends that ruled the streets and alleys of that small town on our Schwinn bikes. Our gang of 4 guys and a gal grew up together and attended old 4 story Washington Elementary and just like the kids in "Summer of Night" we counted the days and then the minutes until summer break. We then spent those glorious 3 summer months slaying the monsters and beating back the Indians on our bikes. We too looked forward to a new modern school between our 5th and 6th grades. Old Washington school was to be raised to make way for a Pigly-Wigly store on the corners of Lincoln Avenue and Highway 34.

Life is so full of irony and sometimes weird similarities...... when I listened to "Summer of Night" I was thrown right back to my innocent youth. We doubled dared each other to go into the crumbling "haunted mansion" on 1st street. On Halloween we T-Peed old lady Garrison on 5th because we were convinced she was a witch and she only gave us pennies for trick or treat instead of candy. There were so many coincidental elements of our childhoods with "Summer of Night" it was really amazing.

Of course the story takes place in a small little town in the summer of 1960. I happened to be 13 in 1960. The story takes place in Ohio (I believe), but all small towns were very much alike in America in 1960. Even down to the movies that they would show in the park on Friday evenings with the mayor running the projector and the film showing on the side of Willards Pharmacy. I even painted the side of Willards with bright white paint in the summer of 1959 and got paid $5.00 dollars.

All in all this book was absolutely amazing for me personally. I also think it is written beautifully, with a great story line and perfectly believable characters. Great entertainment. For me it was heartwarming and nostalgic in many ways. Of course in my life our bike gang didn't have to fight
a black evil that takes over old Washington school and threatens all of our lives with a hideous monster that literally comes up into the space beneath our beds at night! Yikes! the "Summer of Night" is fun and SCARY!

7 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

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.

18 people found this helpful

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Loved it

American singer-songwriter, actor and audiobook narrator Dan John Miller expertly brings to life this classic tale of friendship, bravery and horror with talent, emotion and professionalism.
Summer of Night is exquisitely written by Best selling and award winning author Dan Simmons. With a runtime of over 20 hours the listener has the opportunity to get acquainted with some really interesting characters and to be completely immersed into the early 60s small-town American life.
The story follows a group of friends during summer vacation and sees them fighting a dark evil that threatens to take over there community or maybe even the entire world.
Reminiscent of Stephen king’s IT, this story will have you on the edge of your seat for the entire Adventure, cheering on the good guys and hating with all your heart the dark forces at play. Summer of Night is one of the most atmospheric and dark stories that I’ve experienced so far. The action starts slow, but picks up speed after the halfway mark and keeps going full steam ahead towards the exciting finale. The author takes the time to introduce each of the characters, the haunting location and the dramatic history surrounding the small community.
This was my first Dan Simmons book, but I will be sure to try out more of them because I absolutely loved his writing style and the complex story.
Immediately after finishing Summer of Night I discovered that we also have a continuation to this story in A Winter Haunting, set about 40 years after The events in Summer of Night, so I think it’s a good idea to check that one out as well if you like this one.
I hope that you found this review interesting and will consider leaving a helpful vote below. Thank you! Take care, stay safe, and don't forget, always listen with your heart.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Raph
  • 11-28-17

Decent story slightly let down a bit by narration.

Good cast of characters, heart warming and nostalgic. Horror elements are well done but not pulse pounding but that’s mainly due to the narration.

The narrator has a pleasant voice and is good on the ear but at times when there’s peril and danger and some urgency needed it just sounds like he’s describing a whimsical scene from The Wonder Years. That laid back quality neutered the horror, excitement and tension in places.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gustav
  • 08-19-12

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!

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • sarahmoose2000
  • 08-22-11

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?

6 people found this helpful

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  • Alan Myers
  • 04-04-21

Brilliant!

If you are trying to decide about this book, and new to DS, then you should consider:
- did you like IT by King? I love IT, read it 3 times. It’s a great evocation of 50s / 60s American childhood. It’s scary, but it’s flawed, along with other sk stuff, which in my opinion, suffer from weak endings, they always fade out into mystical stuff about long lost this and that’s. This book builds slow, has surprises and ends with a bang.
- do you like long books? Both SK and DS are often accused of having poor editors, but I like these types of narratives that draw you into another world set in another time

The narration is great! The voice never gets in the way of the characters, and the many drama scenes are better for a flatter treatment, it allows you to build your own pictures better.
The supernatural is not overplayed (but don’t buy if you don’t like ancient stuff bringing the dead to life stories).

DS CAN drag in some books, but this is one of his best. I’ve just finished it, and it’s one of the few audiobooks that I’m sad it’s over. It outranks his sci fi stuff in my opinion, as does the Terror. Go ahead.

2 people found this helpful

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  • mr a thomson
  • 08-27-18

A classic coming of age horror/ adventure!

I am a big fan of this type of horror novel, where a group of kids fight monsters that threaten a town. This is a great listen and I was addicted from chapter one! Just like Stephen King's IT, it is nostalgic and reminds us of times past. loved it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Toby Gasston
  • 01-30-21

Totally engaging

Great story and characters. Really enjoyed the narration and frequently sucked in to listening for another half an hour. Not a genre I often listen to or read, but as a fan of the Hyperion books I gave it a try. Glad I did. Really enjoyed it.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-30-22

Not terrible, but basically a poor man's Stephen K

I loved The Terror by Simmonds and wanted to love this but it wasn't to be, sadly. basically felt like a knock off Stephen King novel, not bad, but not great either 3/5

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  • PRITCHARD'S
  • 10-22-21

very good

So yeah finished this today I must say it's a really good book. Now when I did start it I did think it has a lot of similarities to Stephen King's IT, you know preteen kids in the summer and evil forces you know all that but it's fantastic. It's slow starting at the beginning I must say that and I was tempered to put this down for a while but it did get better, a lot better and the ending, the build-up to the end in the last couple of chapters were absolutely Fantastic and really saved it from being a 3 star book. The Characters in the book you really do care about them too which is always MUST. I would definitely read it again and highly recommended just get through the first 150 pages 🤣 even though they're important haha!

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  • A. Listener
  • 10-10-21

Not the classic I was lead to believe it was.

I'd heard a lot of high praise about this, and it was nothing more than an average book, for me.
Maybe I was only disappointed because of all the high ratings and recommendations. It's basically just a mediocre version of IT, with some differences. I loved King's IT, and I would have enjoyed a similar story if it had been written better.
All that said, this wasn't a bad book at all. It's good enough to listen to. Just don't expect to be blown away.

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  • Lee
  • 07-23-21

So boring

So much mundane detail. I’ve tried and I’m on my third go. I just can’t get into it. I’m giving up.

I like long books especially when they are compared to SK’s IT but nope I’m not feeling it. Bye Dale, Laurence, Mike, Jim and Dwain.

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  • Brian M
  • 12-18-17

Riffing on King's IT - Not Original But Good

Any additional comments?

Dan Simmons obviously has a thing for King's sepia coloured view of small-town America in the 1960s. A place where all is good and wholesome and right. At least until the evil rises and bad things happen to good people. If you've read King's IT you'll know where this story is going early on. As in a very real sense, this is an IT 'rip-off'. Which is a good thing and a bad thing, depending on your point of view. I guess what I'm saying is, this isn't the most original thing you're ever going to read. But don't be put off by that. Dan Simmons is a good writer, and the characters in this are well drawn. And I'd have no problem reading another Dan Simmons book somewhere down the line.Dan John Miller's read was solid. Not enough variation on individual character voices, etc for my liking. But again, it was nothing that put me off finishing the audio-book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jane
  • 10-06-20

Interesting

At first I nearly stopped listening and returned the book. The narration was too fast and each sentence blended into the next with no noticeable pause at times which was very annoying. I persevered and whilst I enjoyed the story with all its twists and turns I still would have preferred a different narrator. What a difference the delivery makes to an audio book!

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  • Sarah Reeve
  • 10-02-20

Summer of night

Enjoyed this book, found the style of writing very similar to some of Stephen Kings books. The narrator had an easy, comfortable voice to listen to & his tone suited the story well. I look forward to reading more of Dan Simmon's books.