By Dan Simmons
William Morrow, 303 pp, 2002
This book is a sequel to Dan Simmons'
excellent horror novel Summer
of Night, which I read years ago and, to be honest, don't remember
much of it. I do remember it being very good, very scary, original, and
well-written. So when I saw this in the library, I snatched it up.
Simmons has written other fine horror
novels, like Carrion
Comfort and Children
of the Night, but then he went into science fiction and I lost
interest in him. I'm glad he's returned to the horror genre.
This book picks up with a fifty-something
Dale Stewart in a full mid-life crisis. He's divorced from his wife and
daughters because of a torrid affair with a hot young college student
(Dale is a college English professor in Montana) and being treated for
depression. He's already tried to kill himself, but the shotgun misfired.
In an effort to get his life straight, he
decides to spend his sabbatical year writing a novel in the home of his
old friend Duane, the fat, genius kid who was killed in Summer of Night.
Dale is the author of a popular series of mountain man novels, but now he
wants to write a serious novel about that long-ago summer in 1960, a
summer he only dimly remembers.
Needless to say, strange things start
happening at the house and around town, and that's all I'll say about
Duane is in this novel, although he's long
dead. It's a nice little twist that could have turned out very badly but
Simmons makes it work.
The novel is hard to categorize - it could
be a straight ghost story, or horror novel, or even psychological
thriller. It's really all three. Again, such a tactic is risky, but
Simmons is a great writer and, in my opinion, pulls it off wonderfully.
This is a great book, eerie, moody, full of
atmosphere, a tad slow in the beginning, with several flashbacks about
Dale's affair and how it ended. It all comes together in the end, in a
satisfying and unique way. Again, I can't say any more or I'll give it
I hate it when people give away endings.