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Summer of Night by Dan Simmons

Summer of Night (original 1991; edition 1991)

by Dan Simmons

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1,010None8,502 (3.98)61
Title:Summer of Night
Authors:Dan Simmons
Info:Headline Book Publishing (1991), Hardcover, 473 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:1960s, coming of age, horror, supernatural, midwest

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Summer of Night by Dan Simmons (1991)


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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. ( )
  sorjuana | Jan 17, 2014 |
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. ( )
  Tara714 | Nov 15, 2013 |
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. ( )
  tymfos | Aug 27, 2012 |
Not bad...interesting but fell apart at the end for me (but a lot of books do). ( )
  grateful.zed | Jun 4, 2012 |
This review first appeared on my blog: http://www.knittingandsundries.com/2011/10/title-summer-of-night-author-dan.html

First, I lost my review notes on this one (which I hate!), so I may not be quite as detailed. My overall impression of this one was very good. Simmons is one of my fave authors, but somehow, I had not read THIS title previously. As I read it, it put me in mind of Stephen King's "The Body", which was later made into a movie.

Five 11-and-12-year-old boys in 1960's Elm Haven, Illinois find themselves facing some sort of dark force which first takes one of their classmates on the last day of school. There's a huge love between two brothers (after all, how many big brothers let their little brother tag along with them?), and a relative genius, and boys (and a girl, Corky, who is awesome - walking around with a shotgun, determined to make someone pay for the disappearance of her brother) who are brave but not without fear. There's also sadness as people are lost to the creatures that live in Old Central School, including some who we end up half in love with.

These are really great kids, not flawless, growing up in a small town where the highlight in the summer is the free outside movie downtown. It was extremely believable, which is extraordinary given the theme, and it transported me back to my own 11-year-old self (only without the creatures and the "ghosts" and the evil adults).

What a really good read! If you like creepy and genuinely scary, PICK THIS ONE up! You will fall in love with these boys and you will find yourself rooting for them to win in the end.

Writing: 4 out of 5 stars
Plot: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Characters: 5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 5 out 5 stars

BOOK RATING: 4.6 out of 5 stars ( )
  jewelknits | Oct 20, 2011 |
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This is for Wayne, who was there when it all happened.
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Old Central School still stood upright, holding its secrets and silences firmly within.
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Book description
A monstrous, timeless entity is devouring children. Adults either refuse to understand what is happening, or are themselves agents for the monster. A group of young boys, in uneasy partnership with an outcast girl, realize they must kill the creature before it devours them all.
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In the summer of 1960 in Elm Haven, Illinois, a sinister being is stalking the town's children, and when a long-silent bell peals in the middle of the night, the town's residents know it marks the end of innocence.

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