If you’ve ever seen the film Super 8, directed by J. J. Abrams, The Summer of Night is a lot like it except with more monsters and violence.
For students of Old Central in the small town of Elm Haven, Illinois, summer vacation means hot sunny days, running through the woods with friends, playing baseball, and adventures of all shapes and sizes. For Duane, Dale, Mike, Harlan, Kevin, and Lawrence it will be the last summer of childhood, and possibly of their lives, because when a student goes missing on the last day of school it is only the beginning of a series of strange events that begin to follow them. For an ancient evil has woken up inside Old Central and these boys have gotten its attention.
I don’t usually read horror novels, but last year I read The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. After posting about it bookguyreviews recommended to me that I read The Summer of Night. I feel terrible about how long it’s taken me to read it, but I’m hugely grateful that he did recommend it because this was a fantastic thriller and horror novel, and all around great book.
However, I know my own limits when it comes to books, and I especially know my limits when it comes to horror books. Movies included. If I read and/or watch a scary something during the darker hours I will undoubtedly scare myself silly. Not only that, but I’ll also be unable to fall asleep until the early hours of the morning. In short, I don’t do well with intense thrillers, which is why I read this book only during the day and I’m glad I did because the one time I was reading before going to bed I happened upon a rather frightening section and it took me longer than normal to fall asleep without fearing that something was going to burst from the closet and eat me. That or suck my soul. My imagination doesn’t slack off when fear grips me in the middle of the night. I write horror stories about numerous possible outcomes that leave me dead, dying, or wishing desperately that the gates of Saint Peter were within sight.
But lets get back to my inexperience with the genre.
I don’t know what most horror novels are like, but this one was raw, and I say that in the best possible way. Dan Simmons captures life in its uncut nature, luring his audience in before twisting reality into a nightmare.
When I first started reading The Summer of Night I began planning out what I wanted to talk about in this blog post. When considering how I would critique it, the first thing that came to mind was the slow moving plot. There was a great deal of character development and setting description which teased me with short, eerie scenes to wet the pallet, but things didn’t really pick up until about half-way into the book (which is about 300 pages, for those who were wondering). Before I even finished I was forced to revise my criticism because, for me, the plot moved at just the right pace. This isn’t an adventure, fantasy, or science fiction book; it’s a prime example of the thriller/horror genre. The action built gradually with suspenseful tidbits dropped just far enough apart to keep me engrossed and sustain my curiosity, leading me along by a fine cord until I was too invested to turn back.
So thank you bookguyreviews for recommending this book to me. I’m sorry it took me so long to follow up on it, but I can say for certain that this is one of the better books I have read this year.