Thursday, November 3, 2016

Summer of Night

by Dan Simmons
555 pgs

It's the beginning of summer break in 1960 in the small Illinois town of Elm Haven, and a small group of young boys are looking forward to long days of riding their bikes, playing baseball, and generally doing whatever they want to do for the next three months. They'll never again have to enter the huge old elementary school, which was shuttered up for good at the end of the school year. When school starts again in the fall, they'll be going to another, newer school. They have no idea that the Old Central School will play a central role in their summer, forever changing some of their lives, and ending the lives of the others.

It begins with the ringing of an ancient bell in the middle of the night. Some of the oldest of the town's inhabitants know that the ringing of the bell means an ancient debt has come due. But the boys have no idea what it means. But one by one, each of them becomes aware of sinister forces now at work in their town. Tubby is the first. He discovers a hole in the basement, crawls in, and is essentially eaten alive. Harlen is next. Seeing one of his teachers at Old Central entering the boarded-up building one night, he scales the outside and through a window, sees her talking to the ghost of her recently-deceased friend. There's the ghost of a WWI soldier that keeps appearing to one of the boys at night, and all the boys keep finding these mysterious holes throughout town. Holes large enough for a young boy to crawl in and disappear forever, or from which evil and deadly creatures can crawl out.

Based on the popularity of Stranger Things recently on Netflix, there's clearly an appetite for nostalgic horror stories featuring children, and Summer of Night would be a great reading choice for those who enjoyed it. It was written a few years after Stephen King wrote IT, and it's likely that Simmons received some of his inspiration from King's story. But he also received a great blurb on the back of the book from King (so there obviously weren't any hurt feelings).

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

No comments:

Post a Comment