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Summer of Night (1991)

de Dan Simmons

Sèrie: Elm Haven (1)

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1,545388,488 (3.95)80
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I enjoyed this, a little. Better written than most horror genre books. Too long, slow at first then rushed at the end. I generally don't like novels which are totally devoted to child/teenager characters... is this considered YA? Good writing, but dumb plot- in a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone, a small cliche of teens fight an ancient evil, resulting in several awful deaths and several town buildings in flames, but almost none of the adults and none of the other teens in the town know what is going on even after it is over...secret superheroes. Oh, and the secret weapon that saves the day? Holy water. ( )
  keithostertag | Dec 26, 2020 |
Poor man’s ‘It.’ ( )
  habeus | Jul 24, 2020 |
I have owned a paperback copy of this for about 15 years and while I want to kick myself for never having read it, I think I read it at the perfect time in my life.

The book is set in the fictional town of Elm Haven, IL which lies in between the non-fictional towns of Galesburg and Peoria. I have lived in Illinois for 44 of my 47 years on this earth and moved to the Peoria-area four years ago. As mentioned, reading it now was the perfect time for me.

This book is ostensibly a horror story but it's so much more..... The book is set in 1960 and chronicles that summer and the adventures of a troupe of young boys. The book has a deliberate pace as the chilling story unfolds and you could argue that it meanders a bit, but that's the's paced like a lazy summer with long days and all the time in the world. Simmons' prose is fabulous and keeps you engaged even through its "meanderings."

This book gets compared to Stephen King's "IT," his short story "The Body" (a.k.a. the movie "Stand By Me") and Robert R. McCammon's "Boys Life." I've only read King's works and I would agree, but this one is better. Trust me. ( )
  spaceman5000 | Jul 23, 2020 |
All Dan Simmons fans know that he can write successfully in any genre he chooses and that he likes to mix horror into various other genres. Here is his YA/horror novel. It's a bit too horrific, profane, violent, sexy and grim to actually appear in the YA section of any bookstore, though, what with all the guns, swearing, incipient sexuality amongst eleven year-olds, kiddie-crime and gruesome, well, horror. Which is, of course, why it's great and worth any eleven-year-old's time (or that of any older person, for that matter). Of course nightmares might be expected because it's so scary but those might not be confined to the 11-year-olds, either.

All the protagonists are 11 except for one who is younger and they are up against something ill-defined, sinister and extremely dangerous - but they don't know that when they decide to investigate the disappearance of a class-mate on the last day of school before the summer of 1960. Of course, being a YA novel, the kids need to solve the problems without the help of adults, a perennial plot-constraint/difficulty of the genre that Simmons deals with superbly. First of all, his choice of setting in small-town Illinois, 1960, is great because it solves most of the problem on its own; kids then ran rampant without supervision for entire days, went camping without adult accompaniment and went wherever they wanted that was within range of their bikes and energy. In our disappearance-investigating kids' small town of Elm Haven, this includes a wide range of locales, such as farmland, woodland, the town dump and the railroad/way. Private gun security in the USA back then seems to be similar to that of today i.e. non-existent and all the kids seem to have been taken shooting by their fathers...

The characterisation is excellent, which is good because there is a mob of kids who get more and more involved in an increasingly dangerous and malicious series of supernatural encounters and they need to be well differentiated from each other. There is, however a slight flaw, which is the writing itself. Generally speaking it is the evocative, atmospheric prose one expects from Simmons, but just occassionally, scattered through-out the book are individual sentences that stand out glaringly as bad - and easily corrected. A minor annoyance in a novel that manages to capture the nostalgia for childhood summer vacations/holidays from school, the fears, concerns and bonds of school-children and the spookiness and dread inspired by the inexplicable events occurring exceedingly well.

Which leads me to say which genre I think this book belongs to: yes, I already claimed it is Simmons' YA novel but I also believe it is his [a:Ray Bradbury|1630|Ray Bradbury|] novel. Its resemblances to both [b:Dandelion Wine|50033|Dandelion Wine|Ray Bradbury||1627774] and [b:Something Wicked This Way Comes|248596|Something Wicked This Way Comes|Ray Bradbury||1183550] are striking: small-town Illinois setting, nostalgic look back at childhood summers, unexpected tragedy and evil, nostalgia for old horror films and stories, wannabe writers...

This book perhaps starts slowly but it ramps up to a gripping and terrifying experience and is never dull. It foreshadows later Simmons works such as [b:Drood|3222979|Drood|Dan Simmons||3257056] and [b:The Terror|3974|The Terror|Dan Simmons||3025639] in narrative and thematic approach. It also doesn't suffer from the bane of Simmons' books; mood-destroying/tedium inducing lit.crit. essays.

Great stuff. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Moldering teacher
overshadowed by fat truck
bonus(?) dead baby. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
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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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