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A Winter Haunting [Mass Market Paperback]

Dan Simmons
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 31, 2002

A once-respected college professor and novelist, Dale Stewart has sabotaged his career and his marriage -- and now darkness is closing in on him. In the last hours of Halloween he has returned to the dying town of Elm Haven, his boyhood home, where he hopes to find peace in isolation. But moving into a long-deserted farmhouse on the far outskirts of town -- the one-time residence of a strange and brilliant friend who lost his young life in a grisly "accident" back in the terrible summer of 1960 -- is only the latest in his long succession of recent mistakes. Because Dale is not alone here. He has been followed to this house of shadows by private demons who are now twisting his reality into horrifying new forms. And a thick, blanketing early snow is starting to fall ...

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The old saw "You can't go home again" is a chilling understatement for this highly effective supernatural shocker, Simmons's first horror novel since Fires of Eden (1994) and a sequel to Summer of Night (1991). The latter was an eerie chronicle of a summer of lost innocence for a group of preadolescent chums who confront an entity of irrepressible evil in rural Elm Haven, Ill. Four decades later Dale Stewart, a survivor of that summer, has returned to endure a winter of adult discontent: his wife has left him, his sideline career as a novelist is sputtering and a disastrous love affair has driven him to attempt suicide. Medicated to the gills for depression, Dale seeks inspiration for his next novel in a house that figured in events of the summer of 1960. But remnants of the old malign influence have survived and they manifest as vicious spectral dogs, threatening neo-Nazi punks, cryptic messages that appear magically on his computer screen and delusions that suggest he's losing his mind. Simmons orchestrates his story's weird events craftily, introducing them as unremarkable details that only gradually show their dark side. In a nod to Henry James, whose psychological ghost story "The Jolly Corner" is repeatedly invoked, he blends jaw-dropping revelations of spiritual intrusion with carefully manipulated challenges to the reader's confidence in Dale's faculties and motivations. Though it features its share of palpable things that go bump in the night, this novel is most unsettling in its portrait of personal demons of despair that imperceptibly empower them.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-"Forty-one years after I died, my friend Dale returned to the farm where I was murdered. It was a very bad winter." What follows proves to be just as spooky as this opening suggests. Dale Stewart suffered a traumatic summer in 1960 when he was 11. His friend Duane McBride was mysteriously killed by a runaway piece of farm equipment. That story is told in Simmons's Summer of Night (Warner, 1992). Now, Dale, who is a professor and author of mountain-man adventure stories, is not doing well. He left his wife and family during a love affair with a graduate student who has since left him. He survived a suicide attempt and is being counseled for severe depression. Against his doctor's advice, he travels to his boyhood hometown in Illinois to spend his winter sabbatical in the now-empty home of his deceased friend. Even inattentive readers will spot the signs that Dale is in the midst of a horror story: the second floor of the farmhouse is sealed off with layers of plastic, yet a light glows at night as if someone were in there; he is repeatedly threatened by a group of dangerous skinheads; and a dog that appears to increase in size stalks him. And plenty of other spine-tingling events occur. Whether it's just horror fiction or Dale is actually insane hardly matters. It's good spooky fun that teens will love-but may not want to read when alone, at night, during a storm etc.
Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch (December 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380817160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380817160
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a sequel March 25, 2003
I think that Stephen King tried to do this in "It," and I think he and Peter Straub tried it again in "Black House." Whether this is true or not, neither book succeeds in the way that "A Winter Haunting" succeeds. Here, Simmons gives us what we so rarely see in horror fiction - the psychological and emotional aftermath of a horrific experience.
Simmons also takes the standard genre elements and turns them on their collective head, all the while telling a good story that keeps you reading. "A Winter Haunting" is an admirable novel, and I can't imagine a more fitting continuation of its predecessor, "Summer of Night."

I re-read "Summer of Night" just prior to this book, to have the story fresh in my head. I don't think that it's strictly necessary to read the older book to appreciate "A Winter Haunting," but I would have to say that knowing what happens in "Summer of Night" definitely adds several important perspectives to the events of the later book.
Dan Simmons has made a career out of writing excellent novels in multiple genres, and "Summer of Night" was no exception; one of the great modern horror novels. As in most such books, the story ends when the evil is defeated. "A Winter Haunting" reminds us that, in real life, the story never really ends there. Those who endure after suffering loss and trauma have to live with what has happened, have to deal with it as best they can.
Dale Stewart, in "A Winter Haunting," has dealt with the horrific events of his childhood by not dealing with them - by shutting them out, by refusing to even remember them. A writer now, as well as a college professor, Dale is also the survivor of a failed marriage and a failed affair with one of his students. The books he has written thus far are formulaic adventure stories.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Sequel January 22, 2002
Dan Simmons's A Winter Haunting is a classic ghost story which is set in the very near future. A man - failed writer, husband and father- goes back to the old farm of his deceased friend in his hometown (a place he hasn't see in over forty years) in order to write a book about his childhood. But the farmhouse he moves into is less than invinting at times; strange things seem to occur on a regular basis. His laptop turns on by itself and leaves him cryptic messages, an old radio plays by itself, strange dogs that seem to grow with furious rapidity roam around the house and voices are heard during the night.
Simmons brings back many of the characters from his novel Summer Of Night, one of the best horror novels ever written. But this time, we can never be certain on who's real and who's not, who's good and who's not. This is not a sequel per se, more of a follow-up.
The pace of this book - which is short, clocking at a very trim 325 pages - is very rapid and very suspenseful. This is mostly a one man show as there is basically only one main character, but the novel never offers a dull moment. And there are some very creepy moments that will make the hair at the back of your neck stand and that will cover your entire body with shivers. And let me tell you right now that the finale is a killer! An amazing end to an amazing story.
I am pleased that Simmons finally wrote a sequel to Summer Of Night. This is one book that will not displease fans of the author and new readers alike. The book is scary, extremely well written and, as most Simmons book, often funny. Simmons proves once again that he is a master storyteller worthy of the best seller charts. He is the literary world's best kept secret. Do not let this one pass you by!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Summer of Night becomes chilling Winter of mind games. January 21, 2003
Forty years, a failed marriage, affair, and suicide attempt later, Dale Stewart returns to his hometown and rents out the farm where of his childhood friend Duane had lived. He hopes to write a novel about the mysterious events of the almost forgotten summer of 1960, when Duane died. But strange and disturbing phenomenon, black dogs, neo-nazis, and old friends and enemies continually distract him. Unlike some reviewers, I love what Simmons has done in A Winter Haunting - which is write a classic, literate ghost story that both plays by the rules while intellectually reinventing them without breaking or denying them. Simmons has both Dale Stewart and the reader wondering about Dale's sanity. What exactly does Dale's failed affair with Clare Two Hearts have to do with the events at the farmhouse? Is Dale leaving himself notes? Is any of this really happening at all? And just who is haunting who? Questions a pedestrian and special effects laden spook story would not have the reader asking as the events unfold. A Winter Haunting is a classic chiller that expands on the psychological complexity of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House with stunning power. Highly recommended.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Winter of Discontent May 16, 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Winter Haunting is an interesting take on the horror genre. It takes your standard ghost story and injects a dose academia, it's just the dose is more than is healthy given the anemic page count. There are simply too many offset quotes and not enough scariness and suspense.
Dale is not exactly cut from the most sympathy-inducing length of cloth. Yes, he's losing his grip and his happy family but he's also a pretentious, obssesive adulterer who has brought most of his problems on himself. It's also hard to believe that someone who references so many literary and historical quotes and facts is only capable of writing a series of cliched and inaccurate western novels. Most professors are required to be published in academic periodicals and the ones that do write mainstream stuff usually choose something nonfiction in their chosen field.
So much time is spent talking and vaguely reminiscing about Dale's '60s childhood and the book he's trying to write about it that it really gets to the point where you want to ask the author why he didn't just tell that story instead of this one; it sounds much more interesting. But of course Simmons already has and it was called Summer of Night; the problem, is nowhere on the covers or the interiors is there any mention that is in any way related to another novel. The only reason I know was because after I'd finished it I came here and read it in other reviews. So many things might make so much more sense if these were read in order, not to mention the space he could have used to enhance this plot rather then rehashing stuff from the old one.
In Simmon's defense, he finds a pretty ingenious way to switch back and forth from first to third person in having the narrator be the spiritual remains of Duane hovering around.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Winter Has Arrived With A Vengeance
To put it simply, Simmons has an incredible way with words. It has horror, suspense, psychological suspense, and fantastic character growth. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Christian Burch
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
An outstanding book. Extremely effective writing. Great story at least as good as the best of Stephen King, I.e. The Shining. I don't want it to end.
Published 1 month ago by tennessee
4.0 out of 5 stars and enjoyed it, it's likely you would also enjoy this
To begin, readers should understand this book is a sequel to Simmon's "Summer of Night". There's quite a bit of reference to the original book, so it would help to have... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Glenn Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
First book I read by Dan Simmons and was definitely worth it. Must read.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love Dan Simmons. I will read anything he writes.
Published 5 months ago by Priscilla B. Feliu
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good...
Not nearly as scary as I had hoped but still a very entertaining read! Also, I never read in the description that this was the sequel to "Summer of Night" (which I had just... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kitty
5.0 out of 5 stars SPOOKY AND COMPELLING...
Dan Simmons is truly an author that commands respect. This book is brilliant in that it marries two genres expertly: the psychological thriller and the old fashioned horror story. Read more
Published 5 months ago by lawyeraau
5.0 out of 5 stars I really liked this book but at first I thought I must ...
I really liked this book but at first I thought I must have read it before. I finally went to Amazon & looked for another book with these many boy characters & the events of 1960. Read more
Published 5 months ago by S. Griffith
5.0 out of 5 stars Another genius Dan Simmons book
I can't say enough about the brilliance of Dan Simmons. This was an awesome sequel to Summer of Night, one of my other all time fave horror novels. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jerry Lambert
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended, a bona fide sequel to Summer of Night
This novel is Dan Simmons at his best and is as good, if not better, than Summer of Night. The novel has several unexpected and powerful twists and turns and has moments of high... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sky Blue
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More About the Author

Dan Simmons was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1948, and grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest, including Brimfield, Illinois, which was the source of his fictional "Elm Haven" in 1991's SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002's A WINTER HAUNTING. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, journalism and art.
Dan received his Masters in Education from Washington University in St. Louis in 1971. He then worked in elementary education for 18 years -- 2 years in Missouri, 2 years in Buffalo, New York -- one year as a specially trained BOCES "resource teacher" and another as a sixth-grade teacher -- and 14 years in Colorado.

His last four years in teaching were spent creating, coordinating, and teaching in APEX, an extensive gifted/talented program serving 19 elementary schools and some 15,000 potential students. During his years of teaching, he won awards from the Colorado Education Association and was a finalist for the Colorado Teacher of the Year. He also worked as a national language-arts consultant, sharing his own "Writing Well" curriculum which he had created for his own classroom. Eleven and twelve-year-old students in Simmons' regular 6th-grade class averaged junior-year in high school writing ability according to annual standardized and holistic writing assessments. Whenever someone says "writing can't be taught," Dan begs to differ and has the track record to prove it. Since becoming a full-time writer, Dan likes to visit college writing classes, has taught in New Hampshire's Odyssey writing program for adults, and is considering hosting his own Windwalker Writers' Workshop.
Dan's first published story appeared on Feb. 15, 1982, the day his daughter, Jane Kathryn, was born. He's always attributed that coincidence to "helping in keeping things in perspective when it comes to the relative importance of writing and life."
Dan has been a full-time writer since 1987 and lives along the Front Range of Colorado -- in the same town where he taught for 14 years -- with his wife, Karen. He sometimes writes at Windwalker -- their mountain property and cabin at 8,400 feet of altitude at the base of the Continental Divide, just south of Rocky Mountain National Park. An 8-ft.-tall sculpture of the Shrike -- a thorned and frightening character from the four Hyperion/Endymion novels -- was sculpted by an ex-student and friend, Clee Richeson, and the sculpture now stands guard near the isolated cabin.
Dan is one of the few novelists whose work spans the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror, suspense, historical fiction, noir crime fiction, and mainstream literary fiction . His books are published in 27 foreign counties as well as the U.S. and Canada.
Many of Dan's books and stories have been optioned for film, including SONG OF KALI, DROOD, THE CROOK FACTORY, and others. Some, such as the four HYPERION novels and single Hyperion-universe novella "Orphans of the Helix", and CARRION COMFORT have been purchased (the Hyperion books by Warner Brothers and Graham King Films, CARRION COMFORT by European filmmaker Casta Gavras's company) and are in pre-production. Director Scott Derrickson ("The Day the Earth Stood Stood Still") has been announced as the director for the Hyperion movie and Casta Gavras's son has been put at the helm of the French production of Carrion Comfort. Current discussions for other possible options include THE TERROR. Dan's hardboiled Joe Kurtz novels are currently being looked as the basis for a possible cable TV series.
In 1995, Dan's alma mater, Wabash College, awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contributions in education and writing.

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