Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Winter Haunting

A Winter Haunting

Dan Simmons

Date: 2002   —   $7.50   —   Book

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Fiction, Horror

In this semi-sequel to Summer of Night, one of the grown-up children of that novel returns to the town of Elm Haven forty years later in order to ostensibly write a novel about the summer of 1960, a summer he barely remembers. In reality, he is going back in order to deal with his own private demons, the depression and suicidal tendencies that came about after a marriage-ending affair fell apart. Of course, it's not going to be that simple. Elm Haven, while not as disturbing as Stephen King's Castle Rock, is still not quite firmly on the side of reality.

Dale Stewart has rented the farmhouse of his childhood friend Duane McBride, who was killed that summer under bizarre circumstances. Bizarre circumstances persist, first with sightings of strange black dogs, then with lights in the blocked-off portion of the house, and instant messages on the computer even though Dale has no telephone connection. Of course, the real-life danger of some Neo-Nazi skinheads who have taken a dislike to Dale (because of some articles he has written in the past) only adds to the dangerous feel of the isolated farmhouse. And as the novel progresses, it becomes a serious question as to whether Dale is going to survive, especially as Simmons has shown no reluctance to kill off major characters in the past.

This novel is particularly good at portraying a supernatural event, especially as Dale is unwilling to accept it as so. He well and truly believes that he is going off his rocker. Yet the occurences - without explanation - are a good example of an old-fashioned haunting.

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