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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stand by Me in a Real Horror Setting!
This story was written by an author that remembers all the scenarios that scare a young, imaginative kid! Old, spooky schools; noises in the woods; the space under your bed; and even the fear of having to walk INTO a dark room to turn on the light! There's no end to the anxiety-filled situations in Summer of Night.

Real horror/thriller stories require a certain...
Published on October 30, 2006 by Five Angels

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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I had so much hope for this one
SUMMER is not a bad story. I had trouble staying with it. At first I thought it was because I had recently read King's IT, and the stories are similar in some ways, but when I resumed it a year later and finished it, I realized that it is just a slow and uneventful book for the most part. It's a good premise, it's coming-of-age, it's unconventional horror, and all of...
Published on January 4, 2004 by I. Clayton Reynolds


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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stand by Me in a Real Horror Setting!, October 30, 2006
By 
This story was written by an author that remembers all the scenarios that scare a young, imaginative kid! Old, spooky schools; noises in the woods; the space under your bed; and even the fear of having to walk INTO a dark room to turn on the light! There's no end to the anxiety-filled situations in Summer of Night.

Real horror/thriller stories require a certain degree of character identification in order to scare you. This book accomplishes that and then some! Dan Simmons makes you recall all the imaginative fun and scary experiences of your childhood and you begin to fathom your placement within a group of friends that have a heck of summer planned. As you read this you will find yourself reminiscing your younger days of summers spent in leisure and some of the creative ways you spent your time. Then...

Well, I won't spoil it for you. Just trust me. If you have a decent imagination, you will appreciate the ability of Dan Simmons to tell a yarn that encapsulates you in it and recreates all the fears you had when you were a youngster. Add in a supernatural premise for the excitement and you are off and running. You'll love every minute of it. I've read many of the 'Horror classics' and this one belongs in the top 10.
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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hardy Boys Meet Steven King, December 22, 2002
By 
Gary Griffiths (Los Altos Hills, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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A sprawling epic of old-fashioned Gothic horror, Don Simmons' "Summer of Night" is a well-written page-turner definitely worth the time. In an unusual twist to the familiar "coming of age" theme, a group of pre-teens in rural 1960 Illinois confront a millenniums-old evil force threatening their village. The writer is in no hurry to get the reader to the payoff, painstakingly weaving the mystery thread-by-thread, with a rich and convoluted cast of villains, both real and surreal. While on the longish side (600 pages), it is well-paced, building to a truly terrifying and suspenseful climax. Simmons' writing, while falling short of Steven King's vivid imagery, is far from pedestrian. He demonstrates a true talent for spinning a contrast of the innocence of growing up in an earlier era with the malevolence of the ancient horror that is making a mess of the cherished summer vacation. Despite the dark theme of the story, Simmons injects considerable tongue-in-cheek humor, seeing life through a young boy's eyes, where all teachers are old and mean, the principal is to be feared and avoided, and the school is the center of all things bad and boring. And while Simmons takes some license in the incredible level of maturity, ingenuity, and intelligence of this group of twelve-year olds, this is, after-all, fantasy. In the final analysis, "Summer of Night" is a well-crafted and unique mixture of nostalgia and familiar childhood fears. A highly recommended read.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Approaches King's level, July 25, 2003
By 
Christopher Ware (Fremont, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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The problem I've had in the past with such "horror" writers as Dean Koontz and John Saul was the fact that their protagonists were just too one dimensional. There was no emotional attachment and, thus, no tension to the book. Stephen King, on the other hand, fleshes out his characters so well that the reader feels like they know them intimately. This, in turn, gives the reader an emotional stake in what happens to them. Dan Simmons, while not quite on King's level (then again, who is?), accomplishes this quite well. There were times in the book that I was moaning out loud in fear that something bad would happen to one of the six young boys that Simmons had gotten me to care about. What made the book more compelling is that no one was safe. It was painful to see the surviving boys attempting to deal with what happened. There was a definite emotional investment on my part. The one problem I had was that Simmons introduced all six protagonists in the first 3 or 4 pages. It was too quick for me to get a handle on any of them until a good 50 pages into the book.
Again like King, Simmons uses the setting and environment to great effect. One problem that I had, however, was the fact that, in attempting to describe the layout of the city and how all the streets and roads interconnected, I became pretty much confused. A map of the town in the front of the book would have been very useful. Other than that, Simmons makes very good use of the smallness of the town, it's isolated location in the midwest, and the summer weather as crucial components in the story.
Very enjoyable book and well worth the read. Pretty much as soon as I had finished it, I ordered the sequel, A WINTER HAUNTING. I am eager to find out what has happened to the characters in the intervening years. Simmons has done an excellent job here in making me care about his characters, which makes for a very involving read.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars School's out, now it's time to learn fear. . ., June 20, 2006
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Summer of Night was one of the most incredible books I have ever read and mind you it's not because I'd rather read a book on a Friday night than party, much to my boyfriends dismay as I so often do.

Dan Simmons wove a masterful tale of 1960's Illinois with its cozy little town and streets, Saturday outdoor movies and the kids who were the true heroes of the story. It reminded me of Goonies in places as we quickly grow to like Dale and his younger brother Lawrance, Mike, Duane and Kevin and Jim Harlan, friends, schoolmates and brave, lovable kids who have turned this book in a magical tale that swept in front of my eyes. I have never read a more real story that has horror, fantasy and people dying feeling as real as this tale. The characters all stand out in their own way, so clear, so precise so pristine that when bad things happened to some of them, I had a tissue dabbing my eyes. The book is long, counting 600 pages but I know I will read it over again in a few years and I'm sure it will taste even better, just like leftover dinner with the deepening flavors and spices.

The story itself is around a school called Old Central, where Tubby, a not so god kid disappears on the last day. It's a huge old building that is going to be closed down as all the kids are supposed to go to a new school. Dale, Lawrance, Mike, Duane, Kev and Jim all go to the same school but they are very young, around 11 yrs old, some younger, some tad older yet they are real kids; at times with bratty tough attitudes, yet Simmons doesn't pretend to sketch out a superhero in a child's body, he takes each characters and builds on it making them as real to me as my own family. I grew to love each one of them as they enriched my book with their plans to find the missing kid. As the kids started to piece together what was going on, very bad things started to happen. Unusual dark forces such as walking corpses and black worms polluted their world as sun settled and sent real life terror that was really more terrifying than any other horror book I have ever read. I laughed, cried and even took a day of from work just to sit and read this book as it slowly and beautifully unfolded its mysteries to me.

Dan Simmons used the most intense, sublime and imaginary language to spin his tale, that I have never read before in a scary book. I could feel the first day of summer, the sunshine, the happiness and the approaching gloom with the kids he so intensely described. I could probably use every single one of his sentences as a quite but when he said this about the evil things my hair really stood straight, as it was true: "Beyond the cone of light, large things circled and waited". Evil did strike at night but made some terrifying appearances at day time. When the kids run into mysterious soldiers, butchered animals in a barn with human sacrifices, mysterious holes in the ground, random neighbours dying with cries of terror on their face they know that nothing is imagined and that It wont go away unless they stop it.

So don't miss this glorious story, but have some time to read it and don't miss the sequel that follows where the ending stopped years in the future, its called A Winter Haunting and I cant wait to read it!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Great!, August 28, 2004
By 
Horror writer from TN (Morristown, Tennessee United States) - See all my reviews
I loved almost everything about SUMMER OF NIGHT. The characters were intruiging, and the setting was marvelous. If you liked IT by Stephen King, you will like Summer of Night. While it is somewhat of a slow starter, the reader will be entralled in the story. This was a book I did not want to stop reading..I am saddened to learn that Dan Simmons has changed genres and stopped writing horror, but at least he has left something of great magnitude for horror fans. This one really is a must read.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I had so much hope for this one, January 4, 2004
SUMMER is not a bad story. I had trouble staying with it. At first I thought it was because I had recently read King's IT, and the stories are similar in some ways, but when I resumed it a year later and finished it, I realized that it is just a slow and uneventful book for the most part. It's a good premise, it's coming-of-age, it's unconventional horror, and all of these are good things. The real problem here is that it's 400 pages of book streched to 600 pages. If you're patient and like to spend a lot of time with your charaters outside the main plot, then I would say, you wouldn't be worse off for reading this one. It just seemed like it was going to be much better.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Builds up slowly and reels you in, May 23, 2008
By 
Amazon Customer "fairytales&dreams" (Where unicorns and fairies play) - See all my reviews
Wow, this is one good horror novel. It's been a while since I gave a 5 star to a book, but I think this book deserves it. I don't have many complaints, and the one complaint I do have actually is good in a way too.

This book is similar to the famous Stephen King novel IT in that it's about a group of young children ages 8-12 set in a small town in the 1960s. But don't be put off by that, it is only a superficial similarity, the story itself is far different and just as good in its own way.

A group of young friends have begun to sense an evil menace hovering around the old school (called Old Central) that eventually encompasses the entire town of Elm Haven. The disappearance of a classmate on the last day of school causes the group of boys to investigate his disappearance on their own.

Okay, the one thing that exasperated me about this book was the slow build-up of the story. The suspense killed me, I couldn't put down the book because I had to know what happened next. In the first half of the book, there are only glimpses of the evil in the town the boys encounter (things flying in the trees, a cold wind that smells of death, big holes in the dirt that smell bad, the big red roadkill truck that shadows them, etc). I felt like I was being teased with all these glimpses into what the evil is, but not enough to tell me the whole story, which made me keep reading. So while the slow pace may be frustrating, it was in a good way in that the tension and gradual build-up of suspense was very effective in keeping with the mood of the story. Hence, what I meant about the one complaint I had actually being good (so I suppose it really isn't a complaint? LOL).

I felt Simmons was very effective in creating a foreboding and dark mood with his very detailed descriptions of the scenery, he really set the scene so I could feel the apprehension, nervousness, and fear of the characters. At one point when I was reading at night, I got nervous and scared too and it's been a while since a horror novel could do that to me!

Some might be put off by the details he puts into his descriptions of the scenery, but I think it only helped me picture Elm Haven and the characters much more clearly in my mind so I thought it was a good thing.

Anyways, I thought this was a great horror novel and if you're looking for a good scary read I'd recommend you try it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterfully chilling and suspenseful, July 28, 2003
I started reading Dan Simmons' Hyperion books and he instantly became one of my favorite authors. Summer of Night lived up to my expectations in many ways, and even exceeded some of them. Some compared this book to King's It, but I think it's much better. I found this book much more chilling and suspenseful not to mention having a great ending (I hated the ending of It). Unlike It, there's actually a little history to the plot, not some deus ex machina thrown in at the end.
One of the most interesting aspects of this story is the transformation the boys undergo. I honestly don't understand how some people felt that this story was too slow. Simmons is very adept at revealing pieces of the mystery while building the suspense. To paraphrase, this book made me stay up many nights because I couldn't put it down, and because of what might be under my bed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I READ THIS EVERY SUMMER, May 30, 2007
I first read this book about ten years ago after picking it up on a whim. I've always liked horror fiction but had become a bit jaded by the offerings at the time. WELL, this book got me back on track! A gloomy old school ready for the wrecking ball, the beginning of summer vacation for the little kiddies, a group of friends aware of something very bad going down... I love to read this during the summer as it takes me back to my preteen summers (before I had to get a job) when you rode your bikes from dawn to way past dark and hunted for the monster in the woods. Except in this book, they definitely find the monster. Too many horror novels of this kind get a little too silly but definitely not this book. Plus, it gave me a new favorite author to read. After you read this, check out the sequel "A Winter Haunting"
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I felt like I was living in Elm Haven!, June 22, 2005
Simply put, this book is amazing.

I don't dispute that there are some things that Simmons could have done better, and his editor should have caught the fact that he repeated some facts throughout the book. This repetition could have been intentional, as the book is 600 pages in its paperback version, but if that was the case, Simmons should have mixed the wording of the phrases up a bit--instead, those facts and tidbits of background appear several times using almost the exact same phraseology.

Despite these flaws, this book certainly deserves my 5-star rating. Simmons' descriptive prose made me feel like I was living in Elm Haven, IL, in 1960 with Dale, Lawrence, Mike, Kevin, Harlen, and Duane. Simmons did excellent work painting a mental picture of the school, the neighborhoods, and the peril in which the boys found themselves throughout the book. Simmons also was fantastic in the way he made the reader care about the main characters--I literally cringed when it looked like one or more of the boys was going to bite the dust.

Could this book have been scarier, creepier, more effectively haunting? Definitely. However, I found "Summer of Night" full of enough adventure and captivating story lines to keep me riveted and turning the pages and savoring what I read.
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Summer of Night
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons (Paperback - July 5, 2011)
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