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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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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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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    1 out of 5 stars

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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    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).

62 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

19 people found this helpful

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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.

86 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.

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.

14 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jimmy Beans J
  • 2015-11-12

went from great to struggling

Simmons does a great job for the first few hours. His characters are believable and he does an excellent job setting up the suspense with an in depth setting that is quite believable in it's attention to detail and small nuances of everyday life. The struggle for me began when he starts to explain who and what the antagonists are. It's kind of a huge let down to know that the ancient evil is just a .....no spoilers but still. even the pretence of tying it to renaissance era and ancient Egyptian occult doesn't do much to revitalize the creepiness that the early fog of not knowing what was going on instilled. it doesn't make the book unreadable per se just....disappointing, and by that time I invested so much time I just finished it.

6 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.

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.

5 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.

15 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ricardo
  • 2018-08-14

Nothing can prepare you for"Summer of Night"

When I was a young kid growing up on the farm in Loveland, Colorado I too had a group of friends that ruled the streets and alleys of that small town on our Schwinn bikes. Our gang of 4 guys and a gal grew up together and attended old 4 story Washington Elementary and just like the kids in "Summer of Night" we counted the days and then the minutes until summer break. We then spent those glorious 3 summer months slaying the monsters and beating back the Indians on our bikes. We too looked forward to a new modern school between our 5th and 6th grades. Old Washington school was to be raised to make way for a Pigly-Wigly store on the corners of Lincoln Avenue and Highway 34.

Life is so full of irony and sometimes weird similarities...... when I listened to "Summer of Night" I was thrown right back to my innocent youth. We doubled dared each other to go into the crumbling "haunted mansion" on 1st street. On Halloween we T-Peed old lady Garrison on 5th because we were convinced she was a witch and she only gave us pennies for trick or treat instead of candy. There were so many coincidental elements of our childhoods with "Summer of Night" it was really amazing.

Of course the story takes place in a small little town in the summer of 1960. I happened to be 13 in 1960. The story takes place in Ohio (I believe), but all small towns were very much alike in America in 1960. Even down to the movies that they would show in the park on Friday evenings with the mayor running the projector and the film showing on the side of Willards Pharmacy. I even painted the side of Willards with bright white paint in the summer of 1959 and got paid $5.00 dollars.

All in all this book was absolutely amazing for me personally. I also think it is written beautifully, with a great story line and perfectly believable characters. Great entertainment. For me it was heartwarming and nostalgic in many ways. Of course in my life our bike gang didn't have to fight
a black evil that takes over old Washington school and threatens all of our lives with a hideous monster that literally comes up into the space beneath our beds at night! Yikes! the "Summer of Night" is fun and SCARY!

3 people found this helpful