Summer of Night

by Dan Simmons

“Nothing was as simple as stupid people assumed it to be.”

When it’s all stripped away, are there stories more instantly likeable than coming-of-age? Some of the great books of all time use the structure, and it works perfectly because the required growth of the character is built in. Additionally these stories, well done, resonate with us because we still partially believe. We’re no longer children susceptible to monsters and boogeymen, but we never really forgot the magic of childhood. Not all of it.

Mr. Simmons hasn’t forgotten either. He captures this so perfectly that you become lost in your own childhood while reading about his characters’ lives. Very few authors can move from rip-roaring adventure to sickening dread, to full-blown terror, and then leave you fighting back tears all within a few pages. This is rich, intelligent storytelling at its finest, the type that saddens you when you finish the book as part of your life just passed. A comparison to Stephen King’s IT can be made, not because it’s the same story, but because it’s also a coming-of-age monster tale, it’s also a humdinger in length, and it’s also about a good as a story can get.

A small-town group of kids is forced to confront an unspeakable evil, the basic plot of many coming-of-age books in the genre. Except it’s not. Is it ever when holding real quality? Don’t let this one get away from you.

“There had to be many intellectual puzzles that could not be solved by a visit-or many visits-to a good library, but Duane McBride hadn’t found one yet.”

5 stars

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