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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Coming of Age Horror
First off, this is by far my favorite book (horror or otherwise). The setting and characters are detailed very well and Dan Simmons has a extremely vivid imagination when it comes to horror description.
The story takes place during the summer of 1963 in a small Illinois town, and revolves around a group of 12-year-old kids. The town's central locale is dominated by...
Published on March 21 2004 by Corey Smith

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Spooky, but not frightening.
Summer of Night provides not so much a horror novel, but a rather poignant look at the lives of a group of boys on the verge of becoming young men. While there are some scares and moments of gore, the more appealing part of this story is 6th grade male insights into friendship, parents, and of course the opposite sex. The young heroes are impressive in their realism...
Published on Nov. 3 2003 by celtess


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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Coming of Age Horror, March 21 2004
By 
Corey Smith (Murfreesboro, TN USA) - See all my reviews
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First off, this is by far my favorite book (horror or otherwise). The setting and characters are detailed very well and Dan Simmons has a extremely vivid imagination when it comes to horror description.
The story takes place during the summer of 1963 in a small Illinois town, and revolves around a group of 12-year-old kids. The town's central locale is dominated by a school that also serves as a place of evil. The group of kids realize that an evil force is trying to kill them that is somehow related to this mysterious school. They get into several adventures thoughout the summer while trying to solve the disappearance of a local school-mate. Dan Simmons does an excellent job of describing everyday life for 12-year-old kids during a hot Illinois summer, and SUMMER OF NIGHT is full of suspenseful encounters with several adults who may or may not be evil killers.
SUMMER OF NIGHT is a true coming-of-age horror novel in the same category as Stephen King's IT, Richard Laymon's THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW, Robert McCammon's BOY'S LIFE, and Dean Koontz's VOICES OF THE NIGHT. If you're looking for very scary horror involving teenagers in about 700 pages then this is the book for you. Trust me, once you start this you will not put it down.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but not for the serious., Jan. 16 2004
By 
Josh (Michigan, USA) - See all my reviews
I started reading this novel about a year ago, then I stopped reading it due to having to work too many hours and college and all that fun stuff. Last week I found it while cleaning up my room and started it again, and I'm glad I did.
First off, this book is great for the sci-fi aliens taking over the world fan - which I'm not. I thought the book was going to be more horror, but it should actually be a sci-fi book than anything else.
As for scare factor, this book has some really good scary scenes where you skip lines because the action is so great and you want to see what happens, but it also has parts that are suppose to be scary, and you know they are suppose to be, but it is so far beyond reality that you just have to laugh or roll your eyes.
But I believe that is what this whole book is based on, how something so far from the norm of 1960 life in a small town could happen and the effect it has on the society (the older peoples many "reasons" and logic for the goings on are perfect).
Overall, if you have a weekend or week that is going to be pretty dull, grab this book and its sequel A Winters Haunting that I am currently reading also.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A scholarly, scary read, Dec 30 2003
By 
Shawn (Delta, CO. USA) - See all my reviews
From start to finish, this novel broadcasts Dan Simmons's talent for creating engrossing, subbliminal plots that burrow their way into your subconscious and reside there like festering worms. This book scares me on a number of levels, ultimately because of the relentless attack upon five unsuspecting but strong-willed children during a hellacious summer in 1960. Children die horribly in this novel, though these moments are not always fully described. Simmons lets the reader make up his own visuals, especially during the opening scene in which one young boy meets his horrible end in a basement bathroom, of all places. It also explores the nature of evil inherent in man himself, as seen in the deplorable acts of the local constabulary as well as a group of self-serving school patrons given to feeding their students to ancient Egyptian gods so that Armageddon may be brought about. Make no mistake, the death of the novel's key hero combined with the tolling of the ancient bell described in the story is likely the most disturbing element of the novel, due mainly to the events leading up to that murderous moment, events which shape and ultimately destroy one young boy's life as efficiently as a bullet to the soul. Give yourself ample time to swim deep in the waters of this wonderful novel. You won't regret it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Spooky, but not frightening., Nov. 3 2003
By 
"celtess" (South St. Paul, MN USA) - See all my reviews
Summer of Night provides not so much a horror novel, but a rather poignant look at the lives of a group of boys on the verge of becoming young men. While there are some scares and moments of gore, the more appealing part of this story is 6th grade male insights into friendship, parents, and of course the opposite sex. The young heroes are impressive in their realism. One boy worries to himself as he races to meet what may very well be his doom in the form of an ancient evil, that some water on the front of his pants will make him look like a sissy who has wet himself. It is moments like these that set the tone and mood of the story, much more so than the horror elements.
There were two problems I had reading Summer of Night. One - The most interesting character buys it just when the plot gets tangled. Two - At times, a road map would have been helpful to understand the narrative. The author gets bogged down in describing who went which way on what road, where the road goes, which road it connects to and so on and so forth, losing the reader in a maze of meaningless street names.
While spooky, and occasionally jolting, the book doesn't quite frighten. But the one-liners delivered by the small band of gun-wielding reluctant heroes are worth the read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An Adequate Novel, Oct. 16 2003
By 
Gabriel Girard (Montreal, Quebec) - See all my reviews
Before I start this review I'd like the eventual reader to know that I consider myself a Simmons fan I've read almost everything he wrote and I admire the fact that he almost always excels in the genre he choses. This book is one of his lesser entries, I tried to like this book but i found myself really liking only three of the characters : Duane, Dale and Mike. I thought the others were either poorly drawn (Kevin) or unlikable (Harlan). As for the story itself well it's pretty much the same old gang of boys against an evil entity thing. I did like the link to the Borgias and the tunnels under the town. Other than that it is only o.k. having a few scares and a few moments of truth the description of a young one's summer. This basically feeels as if Simmons is doing a ''cover'' of a Stephen King book but with less agility than King.
The book is not bad or excellent, i usually expect more original work from Simmons. Or at least a very good entry in that conforms to genre rules while bending them like Hardcase. This one is a bit too generic and feels more like an attempt at greater sales figures. But if you like Simmons or this kind of storyy, give it a try - you might like it more than I did.
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant, Feb. 21 2003
By 
Fallout Girl (Brooklyn, NY United States) - See all my reviews
First I'd like to say this: please, for the love of God(s), do not listen to reviews that degrade this amazing piece of work. It's beyond me how anyone can find this book boring. If you like the kind of horror where every page is filled with "splatter" and about as subtle as a car crash then of course, "Summer Of Night" is probably not for you. But if you can appreciate beautiful, suspenseful writing combined with skillful storytelling and believable characters, then do not miss this one.
I'm yet to find a book by Dan Simmons that would disappoint me (even the pretty-average "Hollow Man" didn't leave me feeling like I'd spend my money for nothing). I have read nearly all of his books, and to me, he stands way above bestselling authors like Stephen King. Simmons is subtle. He takes ordinary events, ordinary people, and makes them interesting. He makes you think and feel. This is a writer who, apart from being a master storyteller, has an incredible talent of taking all things cliche and turning them into pure gold. This book is testament to that. Sure, what can be more cliche - a bunch of eleven-year-olds losing their innocence through horrible events involving the supernatural? Everything turns out to be true, every stupid little fear you had as a kid. Monsters in the closet. White claws coming up from under the bed to grab you. School turning out to be a home for long-dead teachers and other evil things interested in either killing you or turning you into one of them. But despite all that, IT WORKS. The characters seem real, their surroundings seem real, and everything else, as unreal as it is, seems like it could actually happen. It's probably not the best book to start with if you've never read Simmons - check out Hyperion/Endymion books first, but it's definitely one of his best. And this is a must-read for anyone who appreciates well written, intelligent horror.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A dissenting opinion., Dec 25 2002
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I mourn the loss of real editors in the publishing world. Dan Simmons could have had an effective story if only he'd had an editor to make revision suggestions (or if he'd read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers).
This book is fraught with imprecise, repetitive, and--dare I say it--boring language. The story moves so slowly that I am not sure it is scientifically accurate to call it movement at all. Simmons takes advantage of every opportunity (sometimes four times a chapter) to derail his story just as it starts to get interesting by clif-hanging one character to move on to another. The book is bloated with descriptions that sidetrack the story to give the reader meaningless little glimpses into the time period. What's worse, it isn't scary. Not one bit, not at all.
Summer of Night reeks of a first novel (was it Dan's first?) from an author with potentially good ideas who lacks an editor to see him and the work through revisions to a publishable state.
One reviewer compared Summer of Night to Robert McCammon's Boys Life. That is like comparing the song your cat played as she pranced across the piano keys with the symphonies of Mozart.
Time is scarce these days, and if you're like me, you don't have enough of it to waste on poorly written books. So if you're looking for a well-written, nostalgic horror story, Summer of Night is not it. Maybe Boys Life is. Check it out. Decide for yourself.
Those interested in what an editor could have done with this book are encouraged to read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. It is clear that Dan Simmons hasn't read it, and he should have.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Hardy Boys Meet Steven King, Dec 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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5.0 out of 5 stars No comparison, Oct. 27 2002
By 
J. Pancoast "Extraordinary Children's Music" (Manchester, NH USA) - See all my reviews
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I noticed that several other reviewers here make comparisons to IT and BOY'S LIFE. Having read all three I can safely say that SUMMER OF NIGHT is incomparable. Dan Simmons is the only one of these three authors (and I'm a huge McCammon fan) who actually makes these kids REAL. King's kids are always stereotypes, McCammon's weren't drawn deeply enough, but Simmons actually makes them live and breathe. They act their age, for one thing, and you care about them....a lot! And, unlike the other two authors, Simmons draws a female heroine who is so likeable, so unique and so interesting, that she merited her very own sequel!
In addition to loving the characters, the story is a slam-bang horror yarn that keeps you intrigued from start to finish, and has some of the most suspenseful scenes in all of horror fiction (the coal bin in the cellar, just to name one...and, of course, THE RENDERING TRUCK...a character all on its own!)
I recommend this book to every horror fan I know, with a guarantee that you won't be disappointed.
And Dan Simmons, if you are reading this, PLEASE WRITE ANOTHER HORROR NOVEL!!!
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Summer of Night
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons (Perfect Paperback - Feb. 11 1991)
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