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Summer of Night by Dan Simmons

Summer of Night (original 1991; edition 1991)

by Dan Simmons

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1,068207,835 (3.98)63
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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English (18)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (20)
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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
( )
  jan.fleming | Feb 9, 2015 |
Summer of Night could be shorter and it wouldn't lose anything. I see readers comparing it to [b:It|18342|It|Stephen King|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1309376909s/18342.jpg|150259] or [b:Boy's Life|11553|Boy's Life|Robert McCammon|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1314302694s/11553.jpg|16685995]. Fortunately for this book, I still have to read Boy's Life, so that leaves It. I don't think it could stand the comparison to both. The similarities with It are obvious - a group of pre-teens fighting something evil. However, while I liked the children from It, it took me a while to see anything remotely good in this group.

Certain things are a bit repetitive. Yes, we got that Kevin has pronounced Adam's apple, we got it the first time that Dale is afraid of basement and Lawrence is afraid of the dark. I never got to like Jim Harlen though. I think the boy is one of the selfish kids I've read so far. How could I like a kid who thinks that if his mother had been 'a better wife, then his father wouldn't have had to start dating that secretary he's run away with.' And yet I find him really sad. His mother wouldn't be winning any rewards for parenting. The kid is a great material for a serial killer. I still find it hard to place him in that little group of generally decent boys. Still, I have to admit that he is one of the strongest of the bunch. Considering his life I even feel sorry for him.

One of the most annoying things is that none of the blurbs I've read mentions a girl with them. There is one and she is hardly unimportant even if she doesn't appear as much as the boys. There were quite a few moments in the book when her presence turned the tide.

However, the book sneaks up to you. I started hating these kids, then being annoyed by them only to end up feeling sorry for some and love others. I liked Duane the most. As much as they are annoying there is always something they do to make me like them a bit more each time: Mike standing guard over his sick grandmother, Dale's relationship with his younger brother, Lawrence and his bravery and so on.

As for the plot, the book is really slow. All the encounters with evil are individual until after more than half of the book. Only then the boys make somewhat coherent fighting force. The book managed to surprise me and make me angry. I honestly didn't expect certain things to happen.
Even though I didn't like it as I did It, it is still a good story that could have been a bit shorter.

( )
  Irena. | Nov 22, 2014 |
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!! ( )
  dagon12 | Aug 30, 2014 |
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. ( )
  BrendanPMyers | Jun 23, 2014 |
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 |
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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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