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Summer of Night

(Seasons of Horror #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  20,994 ratings  ·  1,552 reviews
It's the summer of 1960 in Elm Haven, Illinois, and five 12-year old boys are forming the bonds that a lifetime of changes will never erase. But then a dark cloud threatens the bright promise of summer vacation: on the last day of school, their classmate Tubby Cooke vanishes. Soon, the group discovers stories of other children who once disappeared from Elm Haven. And there ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 600 pages
Published March 1st 1992 by Warner Books (first published 1991)
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 ·  20,994 ratings  ·  1,552 reviews

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Always Pouting
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly most horror or suspense books feel lacking because it's hard to build a plot that keeps someone interested without giving everything away while balancing that with interesting characters and a unique plot line but some how this manages to do that. I honestly haven't read anything else like this but I don't really read that extensive an amount of horror so take that with a grain of salt. I really appreciate how well the ending was written too because honestly the only other writer I've r ...more
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
What all happens during the summer of night? . . . . . . it's not pretty

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, thei
Johann (jobis89)
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"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."

This book is a story about five 12-year old boys who live in Elm Haven in 1960. It follows them through their summer holidays as they encounter a number of strange happenings
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing

And there we have the coming-of-age horror trifecta.
After some research on the net and some reviews on Goodreads by people whose opinion I trust, I've decided to find the best three coming-of-age stories in the horror genre. In my opinion, this is the third and final leg of the triangle - the others being IT by Stephen King and BOY'S LIFE by Robert R. McCammon.

What makes these books so great?
Well, the writing is superb - it has to be, with this one being the shortest at 601 pages.
They h
J.L.   Sutton
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dan Simmons' Summer of Night is an engaging and creepy page-turner. The novel follows a small group of friends who are up against a malevolent entity. I enjoyed the characters and the way they came together to battle evil (and save their town). Summer of Night is a satisfying coming of age horror tale. My biggest regret has little to do with the actual book and more to do with reading this almost immediately after reading Stephen King's It (which has a very similar story line and structure). It ...more
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of horror.
Shelves: horror
The thing that impressed me about this book was not so much Simmons' ability to scare, but to build characters and the world they live in. Simmons draws a map of this small town in your head so well that the reader can see everything that happens vividly. I read other reviews criticizing the time the story takes to develop, but I feel that this is one of the strengths. It is a couple hundred pages in before something scary actually happens. By this time, the reader is anticipating these events, ...more
Dan Schwent
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, 2018-books
When Tubby Cooke goes missing on the last day of sixth grade, Mike O'Rourke and his friends, the Bike Patrol, go looking and stumble upon Elm Haven's secret history of missing children and a turn of the century lynching. But what do those things have do with mysterious holes in the ground and a strange soldier stalking Mike's invalid grandmother?

While I loved the Hyperion and Joe Kurtz books, Dan Simmons has been hit or miss for me. This was definitely a hit.

Honestly, the first chapter almost ma
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
I know many will call it blasphemy, but this book put Simmons ahead of King in my mental list of great horror authors. "Summer of Night" is closest in story to "It" only without the haphazard ending (and 400 pages shorter). When you pick this book up at the store, you will notice that it is a thin book, and make the same assumption that I did, which was that I was about to read a 200-300 page story. About 100 pages in, it dawned on me that there was still a long way to go, flipping to the back I ...more
Summer Of Night is a bloated book (I have a 500 page hardcover) that could really, really use some good editing. Dan Simmons clearly has good intentions, but most of them are lost in complete staleness and cliches of the plot.

So far, one of my favorite books I've re-read this year has been King's IT, which I consider one of his true masterpieces. After finishing Summer of Night, I can't help but think that Dan Simmons also shared my enthusiasm and sat down to write his own IT. Ultimately, though
Excellent story!

Schools out and four friends have a wonderful summer to look forward to until something evil appears and turns their summer into something else. I loved the detailed information of the story and how the author weaves the story around you till it feels like you are experiencing what the boys and the town were going through.

This is definitely a masterpiece and it has become a favorite for me.

Will be putting this on my favorites shelf and will re-read it in the future. Five stars f
Edward Lorn
May 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Horror fans and that one dude I knew in school.
Preface: Some of you will read this review and wonder why I gave it such a high score when I had such a big problem with a certain aspect of the storyline. Those of you who feel confused by my rating should know that, yes, this book is terrific. It transported me to another time and place. For me, it effortlessly captured a sense of nostalgia for something I never experienced. I wasn't alive in the 60s. I didn't grow up in a small town, though I did live in one for my final years as a teenager. ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Zoeytron by: Dan Schwent
1960 Elm Haven, Illinois.  The old Central School, a four-story monstrosity, is about to close its doors forever.  School's out for summer, and the fun is about to begin.  Except that's not what happened at all, was it? 

A rendering truck with scabby red paint, cornfields that are growing too tall and unnaturally fast, darkness that is absolute.  A glint of teeth, shadows that seem to slither, and steps leading down from the basement.

A harrowing coming of age tale that will almost certainly pleas
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
4.5 stars

Summer of Night is one of those books where the story is a delight to read but the review is kind of hard to do. It's also my first novel from Dan Simmons. After finishing this book, I definitely want to read by the author.

The story is a sort of coming-of-age tale, although instead of focused on one as is typical, it centers around a group of children growing up together in a small town in the 60's. The author brings alive the excitement of that first summer day when school ends and onl
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
Loved this book! It goes right to the top with Boy's Life, Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Body as one of my favorite small town, coming of age books. If you like any of those books you should enjoy this story. A group of friends band together to battle a supernatural menace and in the process take me back to my days of adolescence. I have struggled with some of Simmons's work in the past and even though this was just over 600 pages I never felt like it bogged down. There were a couple o ...more
May 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Summer of Night was one of the most incredible books I have ever read and mind you it's not because I'd rather read a book on a Friday night than party, much to my boyfriends dismay as I so often do.

Dan Simmons wove a masterful tale of 1960's Illinois with its cozy little town and streets, Saturday outdoor movies and the kids who were the true heroes of the story. It reminded me of Goonies in places as we quickly grow to like Dale and his younger brother Lawrance, Mike, Duane and Kevin and Jim H
Donna Backshall
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who aren't scared of massive books
If I'd actually read Summer of Night instead of listening to the Audible version, I never would have made it across the finish line. This is a LOOOONG novel. A beast of a book, one might say. But it's a worthy investment, this "beast".

As the reader, you are welcomed into 1960's Elm Haven, a small and not even approaching middle class town in rural Illinois. You settle in as a nostalgic resident while a tragic story slowly unfolds. Something is wrong because something was very wrong before. Only
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, horror
To me, SUMMER OF NIGHT is not only a modern horror classic, but it's also a brilliant coming-of-age story set in the 1960's. This offering from Simmons is simply one of the best books that I have ever read (3 times to date). ...more
I read "A Winter Haunting" it is the sequel to this book. The characters in this book are a group of friends when they are tweens. In a Winter Haunting, (Dale), one of the boys, returns to this area as an adult. It is not as YA as this one.

Anyway, this was a good horror that starts in a soon to be condemned school the day before summer break is to start. After a blood curdling scream the disappearance of a young student, strange sightings and odd deaths, a group of young buddies feel obligated
Sadie Hartmann
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's the end of 6th grade. Summer has just begun. You're 11 years old and don't have a care in the world with nothing but hot summer nights and adventures with your buddies to look forward to...unless you live in Elm Haven and you get to fight evil all summer. Death and destruction lurks around every corner for a small group of friends who have made some very serious enemies. If you loved Stephen King's IT, you'll love Summer of Night!!! ...more
Considering how long ago I read this the first time around, I had forgotten most of the "little details" concerning this book. Still one of my favorites. :) ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

4.5 Stars

This may have “summer” directly in the title and take place during that magical time of childhood where kids are set free from the confines of the school house for a few months, but lemme tell you it is the perfect read for . . . . .

When Tubby Cooke goes missing on the last day of school, the rendering truck seems to be chasing people down, a fella dressed as a olde timey soldier begins wandering the streets and a long-f
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's really odd, but out of all these old 80's early 90's-era massive horror tomes to come out, few of them really strike me as worthy of a massive nostalgic revival.

But then, just look at Stephen King's IT. The popularity of Stranger Things. Regular coming of age stories like Bradbury was so fond but twisted into dark horrible screaming nightmare shapes. :)

You know what? THIS book really deserves a read or a re-read, ya'll. It's like a cleaned-up version of IT without the parts that make us sq
Adam Light
I'm not sure I would go as far as to say that Dan Simmons' Summer Of Night is a "must read" for all horror fiction fans. I made it forty years before ever hearing about it.
What I will say is that I find it almost criminal that this coming of age horror tale is so obscure. I am thankful for the freinds I have on Goodreads for cluing me in on Simmons.The first one of his books I read was the astonishingly complex and brilliant Carrion Comfort, which is a "must read." This one should be read by any
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All Dan Simmons fans know that he can write successfully in any genre he chooses and that he likes to mix horror into various other genres. Here is his YA/horror novel. It's a bit too horrific, profane, violent, sexy and grim to actually appear in the YA section of any bookstore, though, what with all the guns, swearing, incipient sexuality amongst eleven year-olds, kiddie-crime and gruesome, well, horror. Which is, of course, why it's great and worth any eleven-year-old's time (or that of any o ...more
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
When I was a kid I loved John Bellairs. His books were horror for the pre-teen set. All of them were steeped in Catholicism and involved small town kids from bygone eras who had to fight some sort of ancient evil. Usually there was an adult there to lend a hand, but for the most part the kids were on their own when it came to saving the world. Summer of Night is like John Bellairs for adults in the best way.

The kids in this novel! I loved every one of them. My copy had an introduction by Simmons
Thomas Strömquist
First of 2016 - Buddy read with Edward Lorn - first one to enter my favorite shelf in quite some time!

In what should be a perfectly normal summer of 1960 in Elm Haven, a group of kids gets aware that a great evil is waking up. On the last day of school, one boy vanishes and other strange things starts happening. All seems to be connected to their school itself, the Old Central. As the kids starts to tentatively investigate some of the odd happenings, sightings and strange behaving townspeople th

My 500th book since records began (i.e. Goodreads)

I was totally unaware of this little beast until I read Dan’s great review that lured me in and it was everything he said and more. What a little treat for my earbuds!

I’m drawn to these coming of age tales set in a time long before I was born in a land across the pond. Something about the innocence of youth in a time which, on the surface, seems simpler than life today. This is one of those stories but added in to it is a dormant horror ele
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a rainy, grey, uncomfortable and cheerless Sunday morning in January..
This will bring me in the right mood for writting a review about "Summer Of Night" by Dan Simmons.
If you love horror novels, then you must be familiar with names like Stephen King or Dean Koontz..
So, you can count Dan Simmons also to this club ..

I'm sitting here in my living room before my notebook, and asking myself how to review a novel like this!!!
What about this:
Awesome, gripping, tantalizing, or even a compulsive rea
Cindy Newton
I loved this! I listened to it on audiobook, and found myself making excuses to run errands so I could listen in the car. It's the tale of a group of young kids and the hellish summer they spend battling the forces of evil in the shape of horrendous monsters. It reminded me a lot of It, but at the same time, it is a completely different story.

The mayhem starts quickly as the story opens on the last day of school. As the last bell sounds and the student body rushes out to begin summer, there is o
Stephen King book blurb says: "If Summer of the Night isn't the best horror novel of the last five years, it is surely one of the best three - a gorgeous and terrifying story of five boys who come face to face with a monstrous entity during an enchanted Illinois summer thirty years ago. Simmons writes like a hot-rodding angel, loading his American nightmare with scares, suspense, and a sweet, surprising nostalgia. This is one of those rare must-read books, easily surpassing Clive Barker's Books ...more
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Dan Simmons grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest, including Brimfield, Illinois, which was the source of his fictional "Elm Haven" in 1991's SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002's A WINTER HAUNTING. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, journalism and art.

Dan received his Master

Other books in the series

Seasons of Horror (4 books)
  • Children of the Night (Seasons of Horror #2)
  • Fires of Eden (Seasons of Horror #3)
  • A Winter Haunting (Seasons of Horror #4)

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