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  • Summer of Night

  • Written by: Dan Simmons
  • Narrated by: Dan John Miller
  • Length: 22 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (68 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 childhood. But amid the sun-drenched 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-peaceful 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....

©2011 Dan Simmons (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

“Impressive...combines beautiful writing and suspense into a book for which Dan Simmons deserves the bestseller status of King and Koontz.” ( The Denver Post)
“One can only wonder what Simmons will do next, now that he’s shown us he can do everything the best writers in horror and science fiction can do.” ( The Philadelphia Inquirer)
“It stands with the best of King and Straub in the traditional modern horror genre.” ( Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

What listeners say about Summer of Night

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Worth the listen

Give it a chance, it's a slow start and drags a bit with the narrative at times. But the story is worth it.

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If you liked King's novel It, you'll love this.

This story was a little slow to get started, but really picks up. I listen to audiobooks while working my job on the road, this book had me wishing i worked longer hours.

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good

Second listen, just as compelling as the first.
Look, I understand why folks would compare this unfavorably to IT, considering it a pale imitation, or at least like, written to cash in on ITs success, but...
I liked this a lot more. Yeah, it gets a little ridiculous, naturally, but darn it, it was intense. And it features my favourite secondary character of all time, the inimitable Cordie Cooke. I rarely identify with characters, but in this case, how could I not? A fat, slovenly, friendless weirdo, but criminally underestimated. Story of my childhood, haha.
And there were scenes that were genuinely upsetting (the "shirts versus skins" baseball game, for one, made me feel sick. That poor girl. It was an uncomfortably realistic portrayal of everyday sexual harassment. The way the author expressed her feelings of betrayal, sadness and disillusionment was just heartbreaking. Also, the dog. What more can I say? And that other completely shattering death. Like, the author went there, he really did. What a massive punch in the gut! Ugh, even the second time reading it, I felt so sad.)
The characters were well-developed, and even though there are blatantly obvious parallels between these kids and the kids in IT (a would-be writer, a kid with intense mommy issues... actually, i feel like that's a trope in most of these kids-in-peril-fighting-monsters stories. One always has to have serious mommy issues) they were all fully their own people, and you find yourself invested in them and their fates.
The world-building was pretty good, and the story was hard to put down, despite the length.

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Lost me early

I was lost fairly early, and I think it was because the narrator's "baby" voices for the boys really turned me off. I wish I could have stuck it out, but I like a bit more action than I found in the first 3 hours of listening.

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Brilliant!

This is one of those stories that you just don't want to end. Yes, even at 22 hours long! I was a little concerned at first because I felt that it took a while to get into the horror aspect of the story, which is what I was really looking forward to. There was a slow build to the scary stuff, with little things happening one by one, and it turned out that the writing was so good that I didn't really even notice, even when the story (near the beginning) was mainly about the friendship between the children.

I read in some of the other reviews that people were reminded of Stephen King's "It" when they listened to this story. I agree, there are some similarities. And only in a good way. For me, Dan Simmons is one of those writers who can spin a truly compelling story without using too much frilly language or overusing metaphors, similes and other linguistic tools that many times can just bog down a story and become irritating. He has an excellent vocabulary but when it comes down to it he just tells the story & keeps you enthralled the whole way through.

I have 1 hour left of the sequel to this book, A Winter Haunting, then I plan on tackling Carrion Comfort!

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Edge of my seat!

Very exciting listen. I like all the characters and they were well developed. I must admit the story reminded me of Stranger Things which I’m a fan of, so it was easy to give 5 stars.

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Clever and Original

This book is amazing! It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. There was always something happening.
The narrator was not my favourite, but he was not awful. It didn’t ruin the book for me.

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Loved this book!

I read Summer of Night years ago and loved it then. Upon recently listening to it, I love it more. It's a poignant yet thrilling coming-of-age story that captures the angst of pre-teen boys - and one odd girl - as they deal with family dynamics and as they are plunged into supernatural horrors that only such kids can overcome. The characters are sympathetic - young and old - and the story line is gripping from the first chapter. Dan Simmons is a fabulous writer and I am now a fan of Dan John Miller as a narrator.

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soooo....looooooong.

I think it was 10 hours before anything really happened. struggled. it lost me a few times out of boredom.

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  • Jan
  • 2014-10-31

Go Ahead...Take A Stroll Down Horror Lane


I read the reviews before buying this audiobook, and was surprised by the vast differences in reviewer opinion. For some, the book was too long, and others never wanted it to end.

This novel is long, but if you grew up in the 50,s 60;s, or 70;s, you will probably feel a sense of nostalgia. If you grew up before those decades, I would imagine the book would seem wordy and too lengthy.

Summer of Night falls somwhere between "It" and "Stand By Me" in the dewey decimal system of your mind, which are both by Stehen King. I loved this novel, and think the writing vividly depicts a coming- of- age story involving several teen boys. They cus, they drink, they go on adventures. They have good parents, they have awful parents, and they rely on each other.

There is the issue of childhood death in this story along with the parental grief that follows. That kind of raw emotion has always been difficult for me to take as a reader, but Simmons manages to make it part of the overall horror story instead of an emotional mess.

The writing is good, I got lost in the book, and I really liked the characters and the charater development. Dan John Miller was an excellent choie for narration.

95 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeff
  • 2012-11-06

Excellent well-developed thriller / youth story

Dan Simmons is one of my favorite writers. I've previously read Song of Kali, the Hyperion Cantos, Carrion Comfort, and Prayers to Broken Stones. I sometimes feel apprehension when reading a previously unread novel by an author I've come to love, because of the potential disappointment when the spell is broken. It's been broken (and redeemed) many times by Stephen King.
No worries then, on Summer of Night! This is a story reminiscent of two other novels I know, both by Stephen King: It and The Body (which appeared in Different Seasons and was the basis for the movie Stand By Me). I would not say that this is a derivative work, however. Simmons has his own ideas and agendas. The story is thrilling and the characters are rich and diverse, and though it sounds hackneyed, the portrait of small town life is on the money. If you've ever been afraid of your elementary school basement or hung out with a clever group of school kids, this book will resonate with you. Despite the age of the kids in the story, this is not a juvenile work and deserves a mature audience rating for violence (though not really more so than The Illiad), language (though again, probably not more so than Slaughter House Five), etc.
There may be some in-jokes or nods in Summer of Night. Duane may be a particular version of the detective in Carrion Comfort. I believe that the character Harland is a playful nod to Harlan Ellison, given their similar attitudes and, well, vernacular.
By way of explanation, I do not practice "inflation" in my ratings. I give the story four stars only because five stars is reserved for excellent works of deep significant: Ulysses, The Grapes of Wrath, Dune, The Name of the Rose, Shogun, and works of this level. Catcher in the Rye would be a four-star by my reckoning.
The audiobook was among the best performed that I've listened to. It was certainly well above the recording of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (which often sounded like an Al Franken SNL skit).

71 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Evil_Asch
  • 2012-04-30

One of my favorite books



That said the presentation is well done and I enjoyed it, however, the narration was well done until it came to ANY dialogue between the main characters (all children) at which point the narrator chose the obnoxious tactic of making his voice soft, squeaky, or soft and squeaky to differentiate between them. The most obnoxious of these was for the only young female character, Cordelia Cook. Her voice is described as a monotone in the book and not only is it not a monotone but the squeaky nature of the reading of her dialogue is almost unbearable at times.

This is one of my favorite books and I read my copy until the cover fell apart so I'm willing to concede that I may be biased to some degree however the irritating vocal choices bothered me so much that I found I had to force myself to finish the book.

Listen to the preview before buying.

37 people found this helpful

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  • Mississippi Malka
  • 2016-02-07

A Strong RIval of Stephen King's Best Work

Even though I was 2 years old in 1960 (the year in which Summer of Night is set), I found Simmons evocation of the summer vacations we baby-boomers enjoyed markedly similar to those we experienced in Texas during the 1960's. I think that, as children, we were able to enjoy the simplicity of those years in a way that people of other generations could not. We hung between the past and the future: we still played the games our parents did as children but the Space Age and the Beatles promised us futures filled with amazing, undreamed of lives to come.

Dan John Miller gives this book it's due. His ability to slip into a variety of characters of different gender, background and age is marvelous. He never gives the sense that this is his first time to see the book, the way some performers do. And when the text describes a character as coughing or laughing while speaking, etc., he does it in a most natural way, which can be difficult for some to do without being awkward.

Oh, Summer of Night is definitely a horror book. It is scary, scary, scary. But much of what makes it so effective are Simmons' characterizations, his almost poetic descriptions and the ability to twist several elements of horror stories into something completely new. It really can appeal to quite a large number of diverse readers.

Simmons immerses the reader into the setting of that summer in 1960 Illinois with his almost hypnotic use of prose. I felt that I could almost feel the summer heat, crawling up hot rocks barefoot, splashing into the local swimming hole and riding my bicycle over dusty, unpaved roads. He provides us with the atmosphere of iced lemonade, nights on front porch swings under yellow outdoor lights and the the ever-present song of summer insects such as cicadas and crickets. And, most importantly, the tightly bound friendships that children believe will last forever.

I want to take one paragraph to touch on the characters in the book. It is so easy to view them as real people that you might discover yourself loving some and hating some, and wishing you could have been there to help them. I am reading a book right now, Children of the Night, in which one of the boys plays a major role. It was delightful to see him as a grown up. I hope we get to see more.

30 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Janie
  • 2012-12-18

Dan Simmons has a lot of strings in his bow.

I enjoyed this book immensely. Yes there was 'horror' but not the kind when you're scared to turn the next page, or decide to skip it altogether. I guess you could say it was mild to middling horror. There was heaps of suspense though, and the story progressed so well it was hard to put down. Dialogue between the characters was written well and the character development was excellent. I would welcome more of this genre from Mr Simmons.

19 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2011-07-14

Loved it!

If you liked "The Goonies" and "Stand by me" with a twist of Dean Koontz you will enjoy this story. It's nice to have someone read it to you too, it gives you a differant perspective on emotions and characters.

18 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Susan
  • 2015-03-01

A good prequel

I read "The Winter Haunting" which is the sequel to this book. On Goodreads it shoes these books as a trilogy called The Seasons of Horror, I cannot find these books grouped together as a trilogy anywhere else. After reading the reviews for the 2nd book in the trilogy called "The Children of the Night", I realized that not one of the reviewers spoke of this book or the 3rd, "The Winter calling". The first and the third do go together. The characters in this book are a group of friends when they are tweens and then in the third one, (Dale), one of the boys, returns to the town as an adult right before Halloween to do some writing in peace. Confusing? Yes.

Anyway, this was a good horror that starts with a blood curdling scream and the disappearance of a young man inside of a soon to be condemned school, the day before summer break is to start. When strange sightings and odd deaths start to follow a group of young buddies, they feel obligated and pressed by fear to take things into their own hands, especially when none of the adults will believe them, and/or will have them admitted to the crazy house.

Yes; scary, gross, ruthless Vampires are at the heart of the deaths. This is not a nice Vampire story and yes, people are horribly mudered. The tweens must come up with an idea of how to rid the town of these gruesome creatures. Their very different personalities help them to develope and execute an elaborate but believable plan that puts all of their lives in serious danger. They all know going into this dangerous situation that is neccesary for the safety of the town, themselves and their loved ones.

This book was a mix of "Stand by Me" and "Salems Lot". It was a good story and I liked it, however, I liked the next one, (The Winter Haunting), as well if not better, it was more of a ghost story and wicked, goosebump, good. Perfect for Halloween.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Brian
  • 2011-07-08

Brilliant

This is a great book, kind of a scary stand by me. A little Super 8. Perfectly narrated. I wish it did not have to end.

17 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mike
  • 2012-11-25

What A Shame

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes, because the story was good. Not great but good. It suffers from a common malady, that of adult authors trying to sound like kids. They never seem to get it right. But the story held together in spite of that.

What did you like best about this story?

The tension of the individual set pieces was well done.

What didn’t you like about Dan John Miller’s performance?

This may be the poorest match of reader and story ever. Miller seems to just be reading the words as written with no attempt at all to tell a story. As a person reads a book, their brain fills in the missing elements - the atmosphere, the cadence of the voices, the sights and sounds that are suggested by the story. But when listening to someone else read a book, those nuances that make the story come alive need to come from the narrator.
Miller provides none of that. His reading is flat and uninflected, a real disappointment. And the fact that it is a horror story that relies on building tension, well, if the story hadn't been such fun, I'd have asked for a refund.
I would listen to Will Patton or Campbell Scott read road signs for 24 hours straight. But if I see Dan John Miller's name on another book, I will avoid it no matter how great the story.

Was Summer of Night worth the listening time?

For the story - and only the story - yes.

Any additional comments?

There is no such thing as "a myriad of." Myriad is a plural modifier. You don't have "a myriad of" grammatical mistakes in a book. You have "myriad" grammatical mistakes. The word was used incorrectly at least twice in this book. I know that I'm being pretty anal but seriously, authors should know stuff like this.

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tabitha
  • 2012-05-18

It took me away

Would you consider the audio edition of Summer of Night to be better than the print version?

Yes

What other book might you compare Summer of Night to and why?

Its in the realm of It. You have a group of children fighting against a force that adults refuse to see or acknowledge. In this group you also have diverse social differences.

What about Dan John Miller’s performance did you like?

He was able to make a clear representation of each character

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. I finished in a little over a week

Any additional comments?

The imagery, sense of nostalgia, and suspense made for an awesome experience.

8 people found this helpful