Summer of Night: A Novel

Summer of Night: A Novel

by Dan Simmons

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This masterfully crafted horror classic, featuring a brand-new introduction by Dan Simmons, will bring you to the edge of your seat, hair standing on end and blood freezing in your veins

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...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429985314
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/05/2011
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 20,209
File size: 710 KB

About the Author

DAN SIMMONS is a recipient of numerous major international awards, including the Hugo Award, World Fantasy Awards, Bram Stoker Awards, and the Shirley Jackson Award. He is widely considered to be one of the premier multiple-genre fiction writers in the world. His most recent novels include the New York Times bestseller The Terror, Drood, and Black Hills. He lives along the Front Range in Colorado and has never grown tired of the views.

Dan Simmons is a recipient of numerous major international awards, including the Hugo Award, World Fantasy Awards, Bram Stoker Awards, and the Shirley Jackson Award. He is widely considered to be one of the premier multiple-genre fiction writers in the world. His novels include the New York Times bestseller The Terror, Drood, and Black Hills. He lives along the Front Range in Colorado and has never grown tired of the views.

Read an Excerpt


Old Central School still stood upright, holding its secrets and silences firmly within. Eighty-four years of chalkdust floated in the rare shafts of sunlight inside while the memories of more than eight decades of varnishings rose from the dark stairs and floors to tinge the trapped air with the mahogany scent of coffins. The walls of Old Central were so thick that they seemed to absorb sounds while the tall windows, their glass warped and distorted by age and gravity, tinted the air with a sepia tiredness.

Time moved more slowly in Old Central, if at all. Footsteps echoed along corridors and up stairwells, but the sound seemed muted and out of synch with any motion amidst the shadows.

The cornerstone of Old Central had been laid in 1876, the year that General Custer and his men had been slaughtered near the Little Bighorn River far to the west, the year that the first telephone had been exhibited at the nation's Centennial in Philadelphia far to the east. Old Central School was erected in Illinois, midway between the two events but far from any flow of history.

By the spring of 1960, Old Central School had come to resemble some of the ancient teachers who had taught in her: too old to continue but too proud to retire, held stiffly upright by habit and a simple refusal to bend. Barren herself, a fierce old spinster, Old Central borrowed other people's children over the decades.

Girls played with dolls in the shadows of her classrooms and corridors and later died in childbirth. Boys ran shouting through her hallways, sat in punishment through the growing darkness of winter afternoons in her silent rooms, and were buried in places never mentioned in their geography lessons: San Juan Hill, Belleau Wood, Okinawa, Omaha Beach, Pork Chop Hill, and Inchon.

Originally Old Central had been surrounded by pleasant young saplings, the closer elms throwing shade on the lower classrooms in the warm days of May and September. But over the years the closer trees died and the perimeter of giant elms which lined Old Central's city block like silent sentinels grew calcified and skeletal with age and disease. A few were cut down and carted away but the majority remained, the shadows of their bare branches reaching across the playgrounds and playing fields like gnarled hands groping for Old Central herself.

Visitors to the small town of Elm Haven who left the Hard Road and wandered the two blocks necessary to see Old Central frequently mistook the building for an oversized courthouse or some misplaced county building bloated by hubris to absurd dimensions. After all, what function in this decaying town of eighteen hundred people could demand this huge three-story building sitting in a block all its own? Then the travelers would see the playground equipment and realize that they were looking at a school. A bizarre school: its ornate bronze and copper belfry gone green with verdigris atop its black, steep-pitched roof more than fifty feet above the ground; its Richardsonian Romanesque stone arches curling like serpents above twelve-foot-tall windows; its scattering of other round and oval stained-glass windows suggesting some absurd hybrid between cathedral and school; its Châteauesque, gabled roof dormers peering out above third-story eaves; its odd volutes looking like scrollworks turned to stone above recessed doors and blind-looking windows; and, striking the viewer most disturbingly, its massive, misplaced, and somehow ominous size. Old Central, with its three rows of windows rising four stories, its overhanging eaves and gabled dormers, its hipped roof and scabrous belfry, seemed much too large a school for such a modest town.

If the traveler had any knowledge of architecture at all, he or she would stop on the quiet asphalt street, step out of the car, gape, and take a picture.

But even as the picture was being snapped, an observant viewer would notice that the tall windows were great, black holes — as if they were designed to absorb light rather than admit or reflect it — and that the Richardsonian Romanesque, Second Empire, or Italianate touches were grafted onto a brutal and common style of architecture which might be described as Midwestern School Gothic, and that the final sense was not of a striking building, or even of a true architectural curiosity, but only of an oversized and schizophrenic mass of brick and stone capped with a belfry obviously designed by a madman.

A few visitors, ignoring or defying a growing feeling of unease, might make local inquiries or even go so far as drive to Oak Hill, the county seat, to look up records on Old Central. There they would find that the school had been part of a master plan eighty-some years earlier to build five great schools in the county — Northeast, Northwest, Central, Southeast, and Southwest. Of these, Old Central had been the first and only school constructed.

Elm Haven in the 1870s had been larger than it was now in 1960, thanks largely to the railroad (now in disuse) and a major influx of immigrant settlers brought south from Chicago by ambitious city planners. From a county population of 28,000 in 1875, the area had dwindled to fewer than 12,000 in the 1960 census, most of them farmers. Elm Haven had boasted 4,300 people in 1875 and Judge Ashley, the millionaire behind the settlement plans and the building of Old Central, had predicted that the town would soon pass Peoria in population and someday rival Chicago.

The architect Judge Ashley had brought in from somewhere back east — one Solon Spencer Alden — had been a student of both Henry Hobson Richardson and R.M. Hunt and his resultant architectural nightmare reflected the darker elements of the coming Romanesque Revival without the sense of grandeur or public purpose those Romanesque buildings might offer.

Judge Ashley had insisted — and Elm Haven had agreed — that the school would be built to accommodate the later, larger generations of schoolchildren which would be drawn to Creve Coeur County. Thus the building had housed not only K–6 classrooms but the high-school classrooms on the third floor — used only until the Great War — and sections which were meant to be used as the city library and even serve as space for a college when the need arrived.

No college ever came to Creve Coeur County or Elm Haven. Judge Ashley's great home at the end of Broad Avenue burned to the ground after his son went bankrupt in the Recession of 1919. Old Central remained an elementary school through the years, serving fewer and fewer children as people left the area and consolidated schools were built in other sections of the county.

The high-school level on the third floor became redundant when the real high school opened in Oak Hill in 1920. Its furnished rooms were closed off to cobwebs and darkness. The city library was moved out of the arched Elementary section in 1939, and the upper mezzanine of shelves stood largely empty, staring down at the few remaining students who moved through the darkened halls and too-broad stairways and basement catacombs like refugees in some long-abandoned city from an incomprehensible past.

Finally, in the fall of 1959, the new city council and the Creve Coeur County School District decided that Old Central had outlived its usefulness, that the architectural monstrosity — even in its eviscerated state — was too difficult to heat and maintain, and that the final 134 Elm Haven students in grades K–6 would be moved to the new consolidated school near Oak Hill in the fall of 1960.

But in the spring of 1960, on the last day of school, only hours before she would be forced into final retirement, Old Central School still stood upright, holding its secrets and silences firmly within.


Dale Stewart sat in his sixth-grade classroom in Old Central and was quietly certain that the last day of school was the worst punishment grown-ups had ever devised for kids.

Time had slowed worse than when he was in a dentist's office waiting, worse than when he was in trouble with his mom and had to wait for his dad to come home before punishment could be meted out, worse than ... It was bad.

The clock on the wall above Old Double-Butt's blue-dyed head said that it was 2:43 P.M. The calendar on the wall informed him that it was Wednesday, June 1, 1960, the last day of school, the last day that Dale and the others would ever have to suffer the boredom of being locked in the belly of Old Central, but to all intents and purposes time seemed to have stopped so completely that Dale felt that he was an insect stuck in amber, like the spider in the yellowish rock Father Cavanaugh had loaned Mike.

There was nothing to do. Not even schoolwork. The sixth graders had turned in their rented textbooks by one-thirty that afternoon, Mrs. Doubbet checking off their books and meticulously inspecting each for any damage ... although Dale failed to see how she could tell this year's damage from the years of outrage already suffered by the moldy text from previous renters ... and when that was finished, the classroom bizarrely empty even down to the bare bulletin boards and well-scrubbed wooden desks, Old Double-Butt had lethargically suggested that they read, even though school library books had been due the previous Friday at peril of not receiving the final report card.

Dale would have brought one of his books from home to read — perhaps the Tarzan book he had left open on the kitchen table at noon when he went home for lunch, or perhaps one of the ACE double-novel science fiction books he was reading — but though Dale read several books a week, he never thought of school as a place to read. School was a place to do worksheets, to listen to the teacher, and to give answers so simple that a chimp could have gleaned them from the textbooks.

So Dale and the other twenty-six sixth graders sat in the summer heat and high humidity as a storm darkened the skies outside and the already dim air in Old Central grew darker and summer itself seemed to recede as the clock froze its hands and the musty thickness of Old Central's interior lay on them like a blanket.

Dale sat in the fourth desk in the second row from the right. From where he sat he could see out past the cloakroom entrance into the dark hallway and just catch a glimpse of the door to the fifth-grade class where his best friend, Mike O'Rourke, also waited for the end of the school year. Mike was the same age as Dale ... was a month older actually ... but had been forced to repeat fourth grade so that for the past two years the friends had been separated by the abyss of an entire grade. But Mike had taken his failure to pass fourth grade with the same aplomb he showed toward most situations — he joked about it, continued to be a leader on the playground and among Dale's band of friends, and showed no malice toward Mrs. Grossaint, the old crone of a teacher who had failed him ... Dale was sure ... out of sheer malice.

Inside the classroom were some of Dale's other close friends: Jim Harlen on the front desk of the first row where Mrs. Doubbet could keep an eye on him. Now Harlen lounged with his head on his hands, eyes flicking about the room in the dance of hyperactivity Dale also felt but tried not to show. Harlen saw Dale watching and made a face, his mouth as elastic as Silly Putty.

Old Double-Butt cleared her throat and Harlen slumped back into submission.

In the row closest to the windows were Chuck Sperling and Digger Taylor — buddies, leaders, class politicians. Jerks. Dale didn't see Chuck and Digger much outside of school, except during the Little League games and practices. Behind Digger sat Gerry Daysinger in a torn and gray t-shirt. Everyone wore t-shirts and jeans outside of school, but only the poorest kids like Gerry and Cordie Cooke's brothers wore them to school.

Behind Gerry sat Cordie Cooke, moonfaced and placid with an expression somehow beyond stupidity. Her fat, flat face was turned toward the windows, but her colorless eyes seemed to see nothing. She was chewing gun — she was always chewing gum — but for some reason Mrs. Doubbet never seemed to notice or reprimand the girl for it. If Harlen or one of the other class cutups had chewed gum with such regularity, Mrs. D. probably would have suspended them for it ... but with Cordie Cooke it seemed a natural state. Dale did not know the word bovine, but an image of a cow chewing its cud often came to mind with Cordie.

Behind Cordie, in the last occupied desk of the window row, in almost shocking contrast, sat Michelle Staffney. Michelle was immaculate in a soft green shirt and pressed tan skirt. Her red hair caught the light and even from across the room Dale could see the freckles standing out against her pale, almost translucent skin.

Michelle looked up from her book as Dale stared and although she did not smile, the faintest hint of recognition was enough to get the eleven-year-old boy's heart pounding.

Not all of Dale's friends were in this room. Kevin Grumbacher was in fifth grade — legitimately, since he was nine months younger than Dale. Dale's brother, Lawrence, was in Mrs. Howe's third-grade class on the first floor.

Dale's friend Duane McBride was here. Duane — twice as heavy as the next-chubbiest kid in the class — filled his seat in the third desk in the center row. He was busy, as always, writing something in the worn spiral notebook he dragged around with him. Duane's unruly brown hair stuck up in tufts and he adjusted his glasses with an unconscious movement as he frowned at whatever he was writing and went back to work. Despite the temperature in the high eighties, Duane wore the same heavy flannel shirt and baggy corduroy trousers he had worn all winter. Dale could never remember having seen Duane in jeans or a t-shirt, despite the fact that the heavier boy was a farm kid ... Dale and Mike and Kevin and Jim and most of the others were city kids ... and Duane had to do chores.

Dale fidgeted. It was 2:49 P.M. The school day ended, for some abstruse reason involving bus schedules, at 3:15.

Dale stared at the portrait of George Washington on the front wall and wondered for the ten thousandth time that year why the school authorities would put up a print of an unfinished painting. He stared at the ceiling, fourteen feet above the floor, and at the ten-foot-high windows along the far wall. He looked at the boxes of books on the empty shelves and wondered what would happen to the texts. Would they be shipped to the consolidated school? Burned? Probably the latter since Dale couldn't imagine such ancient, moldy books in the brand-new school his parents had driven him by.

Two-fifty P.M. Twenty-five minutes before summer really began, before freedom reigned.

Dale stared at Old Double-Butt. The name did not come to mind with any malice or derision; she had always been Old Double-Butt. For thirty-eight years Mrs. Doubbet and Mrs. Duggan had shared the teaching of sixth grade — originally in adjoining classrooms and then, when the population of students had declined about the time Dale was born, sharing the same class — Mrs. Doubbet teaching reading and composition and social studies in the morning, Mrs. Duggan teaching math and science and spelling and penmanship in the afternoon.

The pair had been the Mutt and Jeff, the humorless Abbott and Costello of Old Central — Mrs. Duggan thin and tall and twitchy, Mrs. Doubbet short and fat and slow, their voices almost opposite in timbre and tone, their lives intertwined — living in adjacent old Victorian homes on Broad Avenue, attending the same church, taking courses in Peoria together, taking vacations in Florida together, two incomplete persons somehow joining their skills and deficiencies to create one well-rounded individual.

Then, in this final year of Old Central's domination, Mrs. Duggan had taken ill just before Thanksgiving. Cancer, Mrs. O'Rourke had told Dale's mother in a soft voice she thought the boys would not overhear. Mrs. Duggan had not returned to class after Christmas vacation but rather than have some interloper fill the afternoon hours, confirming the seriousness of Mrs. Duggan's illness, Mrs. Doubbet had taught the courses she despised, "just until Cora returns," while nursing her friend — first in the tall pink house along Broad, then in the hospital — until one morning even Old Double-Butt had not appeared, there was a sixth-grade substitute teacher for the first time in four decades, and word was whispered around the playground that Mrs. Duggan had died. It was the day before Valentine's Day.


Excerpted from "Summer of Night"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Dan Simmons.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Summer of Night 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 84 reviews.
Fearjunkie More than 1 year ago
This book is incredible! After reading the best of King, Koontz, Barker and others of their stature I had become over-saturated with the horror genre & had moved on to other types of novels (sci-fi in particular). After devouring Simmons' Hyperion series (one of the best sci-fi series I have ever read) I came across "Summer of Night". This book single-handedly rejuvenated my interest in (well written) horror. I carried this novel around with me everywhere I went for the 4-5 days it took me to read it. There are passages in this book that I will never forget! Simmons has the gift of taking the most ordinary things and scaring the absolute hell out of you with them! His verbal lyricism is beyond compare and he creates the most unbelievably vivid word pictures that at times you feel as if you're actually in the story with the characters! And unlike some horror authors Simmons pulls no punches - he willingly does whatever it takes to leave you breathless with fear. If you love great horror - READ THIS BOOK NOW!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read and enjoyed Simmons science fiction before and I am so happy that he is writing horror books. This story was original and very scary. I will continue to read his books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book back in the late 80's and then a few years later read it again. AND I want to read it again now! It doesn't get any better than this. I't felt like I was right there with those kids in that special scary summer.I was spoiled from that book and still tell everyone that it is one of the best horror novels ever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
as good as it comes. edge of your seat classic you cant put down. Cant wait to read the sequel a winter haunting
Guest More than 1 year ago
After I finished A Winter Haunting, I got Summer of Night. Yes sir, there's some serious ghostal activity going on here. I had read Simmons' Hyperion and was surprised that he also does horror stories just as well. If you have not read the sequel, you should. This makes the charactors in the Winter book more fleshed out- literally. A very good book for reading at night. I highly recommend it.
rubbersoul919 More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the most epic horror stories I have read since King's It. Summer of Night weaves an epic tale of mystery and good old fashioned horror.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the adventure of the boys back in a time when riding bikes all over town was not dangerous. Enjoyed their adventure as much as the horror portion of the book. Highly recommend it!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1960 in Elm Haven, Illinois, school's out for summer, but five twelve year old boys (Duane, Mike, Dale, Kevin, Lawrence and Jim) are happy to be free though they also know there is nothing to do. When Tubby the fourth grader vanishes, the friends investigate. Jim believes Tubby never left the Old Central School. The recently ended school year was the last at the nineteenth century edifice. He climbs a façade and peaks into a window only to see a teacher who died six months ago. Shocked Jim falls breaking his arm. Brothers Dale and Lawrence feel something dark hides in their closet. Their scornful mom looks, but the closet is empty. The monster moved under a bed. Dale enters the flooded the cellar finding Tubby's corpse floating there. Duane researches old newspapers and finds a story about a Borgia Bell brought from Italy that allegedly had supernatural properties; it was placed in the Old Central School six decades ago. In a cornfield, a truck tries to run over Duane. His Uncle Art was about to provide information to the boys only he dies in a car cash while driving over a 100 MPH. Ghosts and other creatures attack the boys and their ally Cordie; as they conclude only destroying the Old School will save their lives. This is a reprint of a 1992 horror thriller in which the kids recognize the danger while the adults snooze through life ignoring the warnings as children being children. The cast is solid as the gang of five and their female peer know the Old Central School hosts strange teachers, staff and activities. Summer of Night is an enjoyable throwback bumps in the night (and day) tale. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book. The writer was able to give a level of depth to each of the characters. You can usually tell who is going to survive by the amount of time the author invests in them. Dan Simmons gives each of his characters enough time to make us really care about the outcome of each of their story. And it is scary. The things that bump in the night and hide in the shadows are here. A great job and a jolly good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is truly my favorite book ever. I really relived my childhood through this book. The bike gangs, the baseball games, and dirt clod fights. Just kids being kids. Dan Simmons puts the story in your head with crystal clear images and extensive detail. There is no 'filler' pages in this book. Every sentence is a delight. Wish there were more books like this one. The characters are great and diverse, and you feel more like you live in Elm Haven with every page you turn. Please read this book. Effortless and enjoyable reading. The book is fun and exciting, with the good creepy parts.
humaneisfact More than 1 year ago
Dan Simmons is an authoor whose books i've wanted to read for ages now but did not because I had heard negative things about him.Things only partly related to his novels and literary style.The specifics are not important-just that I allowed these rumors to prevent from reading his novels.But I took the chance recently and read Summer of Night. Summer of Night is one of those novels that cause you grief.You will be late for work,maybe miss work,stay up all night,and basically not get much accomplished untik you have finished the book.It is that good.His style is smooth and he never insults his readers with nonsense filler.His character developemnt rivals Stephen King.And that is a compliment.Perhaps this is why I felt like I was reading a long lost King novel.I haven't read a novel as fun and character driven as Summer of Night since Kings best works. Summer of Night is often nail-bitingly suspenseful.Not outright horror-better than that.I cared deeply for each character.I didn't want the story to ever end,half way through I was getting worried theat i was in fact half way through..too clse to the end! I am a fan of Dan Simmons now and plan to read The Terror next.Simply a master story teller and skillful writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a extremely huge Dan Simmons fan and this book does not dissapoint. Great character development and a great plot. Simmons mixes the horror and suspense scenes extremely well. Would recommend to anybody.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I consume horror like air. It takes alot to scare me, but this book terrified me. Yes, it's that good.
Jjasont More than 1 year ago
This book is fun. It is super scary and action filled. The Characters are pretty much one demensional and it has the typical happy ending. But never the less, This book is a must read. I promise you that you will find this book scary
Thaumaturgy More than 1 year ago
A pale imitation of Stephen King's "It", but as per usual Simmons' writing is smooth and is a very "comfortable" read. The real value of this book is as lead into the much better "Winter Haunting" by Simmons. However "Winter Haunting" doesn't work unless one first reads this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome! This book was very creepy. Loved every second of it. Cant wait to read a Winter Haunting, the sequel to Summer of Night. Thank you Dan Simmons!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book brings back to memory of my own lazy summer times with friends growing up togeather. The nostalgic way Simmons describes the settings of the boy's (not as in boy's bathroom: hehe read the book and you will understand this little remark) hanging around town and in the country side brings back vivid memories of my own carefree youth. Couldn't wait till summer was there. Waiting forever for that clock to hit 3:30 on the last class of the last day of school. And then Simmons throws in the horror mix. not with blood and guts at first but the way it is done is very scary. Not overdone with gore at all.(dont have anything against gore, I do like a book that tells about someone graphically getting there intestines ripped out) But this book is great. I will definitly be reading the sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fastastic and beautifully written.
grateful.zed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not bad...interesting but fell apart at the end for me (but a lot of books do).
litelady-ajh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really great horror book... the camaraderie of the boys reminded me of 'Stand by Me' (Stephen King). There's just something about a group of kids in the 60's who come together to defeat evil... Love it!
harpua on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really like Dan Simmons, he writes in so many different genres that I find it hard to believe that he does them all so well, but he really does. This is one of Dan's horror novels. One of my favorite types of novels are those that show a group of youngesters, usually pre-teens, set back in the 60s that are plagued by and must fight some sort of evil. Summer of Night compares well with classics like McCammons, Boys Life or Stephen Kings It. Simmons brings to life the times and scenary of the early 60s small midwestern town. These boys must fight a supernatural evil that plagues their town. Simmons is a master of settings and character development in the books of his I have read so far. He definitely succeeded in this novel bringing the characters to life. I recommend this one whole heartedly and look forward to picking up the sequel to this one soon.
NKSCF on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summer of Night follows a group of boys as they finally get out of school for the summer and begin to prepare for the fun-filled days ahead of them, or so they think. Unknown to them, an ancient force is trying to resurrect itself thanks to the help of people in their town who have committed treacherous sins in order to gain power that was promised by this force. When members of their group start to die, the boys expand their friendships in many ways, and do their best to fight off this entity and make sure that it will never again walk the face of the Earth.An absolutely wonderful novel from Dan Simmons. This was the first book of his that I have read and I will definitely look forward to the next one I find. It may start a little slow, but it quickly hastens the pace, and never stops after a certain point. Definitely a must for horror, coming of age, or supernatural readers, as it provides many characteristics of these genres, as well as others in an amazing way. I loved this book.
souleswanderer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Staring at the clock, watching the minute hand creep towards the end of another school year with summer vacation only moments away, we are introduced to the last group of students attending Old Central School. As the minutes tick by, a fifth-grader walks the hallway down to the boys¿ bathroom intent on completing his recent act of vandalism, breaking through one of the walls. He disappears. An eerie scream is heard throughout the school as the final bell rings and the handful of students seem disturbed by the sound are quickly assured by the teachers the noise is due to the age of the building. It¿s 1960 in Elm Haven, Illinois, a small community surrounded by cornfields and seeded with a haunted past that has re-awakened, attempting to claim the town. The only obstacle to achieving that goal is the bicycle patrol, consisting of Mike, Dale, Lawrence, Jim, Kevin, and Duane. Dan Simmons has created a wonderful, nostalgic glimpse into a childhood past with the activities of his protagonists. Saturday night free movies at the makeshift drive-in, lazy days of sleeping in, dirt-clod wars, swimming in the nearby water-hole, and pup-tent camping. What would normally be a tale of growing up in small town America, becomes a background to the more sinister plot of an ancient evil resurrected, and using the community leaders to further its influence. Losing the innocence of youth to the realities and sometimes harsher consequences of adult decisions, we watch this group of youngsters grow and cope with the evil that only they seem to be able to see and confront. There are strong resemblances to other coming of age stories set in a horror genre, and Simmons does a nice job of building and fleshing out most of his characters while slowly introducing the monsters under the bed. I didn¿t want to put this one down, not because it allowed me to keep the light on during the night, but that I wanted to see just how ingenious the tenacious youths would be in the final showdown. Ah but for the glory days of summer, where one could jump on a bicycle and roam the neighborhoods for hours, with no cares or worries except to be home for dinner.
ocgreg34 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The last day of school means quite a few things for the small Illinois town of Elm Haven. For most kids, it's the beginning of a well-deserved summer vacation, free from books, tests, and teachers. For the town, it brings the end of an era as the Old Central school will close its doors for the last time. But for a few twelve-year-old boys, it brings an adventure none of them could have ever imagined.It all begins when Tubby Cooke goes missing on the last day of school. None of the other children sees him leave, though the principal and a few teachers insist that he ran off before the last bell finished echoing through the halls. Duane McBride feels differently. He's always felt that something was odd about the school, and he convinces his friends Mike O'Rourke, Jim Harlen, Dale and Lawrence Stewart, and Kevin Grumbacher, that Tubby didn't run away, and that the answer lies somewhere inside Old Central. While the rest of the gang spies around town, Duane tracks the history of the school and finds disturbing information about its past and a mysterious bell. But the trouble has already started: a ghostly soldier with a melting face tries to get at Mike's grandmother; the town's rendering trunk comes to life and seems Hell bent on running the boys down; the darkness beneath beds or in closets or in the far corners of basements appears almost alive; and long muddy furrows begin to appear throughout the town, emanating from Old Central and heading to each of the boys' houses.Under cover of night, the boys must find a way to stop the darkness that's been set in motion before it consumes them and the town."Summer of Night" is the grand adventure we all wanted to take during summer breaks, biking and exploring with friends, but author Dan Simmons twists it into a nightmare that no one could have imagined. It's part mystery, trying to uncover the dark secrets of Old Central and the bell that hangs hidden in the boarded up belfry, and part horror, not only creating a unique monster that seems to be everywhere at once, but it touches on childhood fears of the dark. Lawrence Stewart has a terrible fear of what might be lurking beneath his bed; his brother Dale never did like the dark space behind the boiler in the basement. Simmons' nightmarish creation uses those fears against the boys with some terrifying results.Imaginative and horrific, just the kind of tale that I enjoy, and once I started, I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning reading, not wanting to put the book down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A coming of age story mixed with horror and an unexpected antagonist makes for a unique and fun read