Inverarity (inverarity) wrote,

Book Review: A Winter Haunting, by Dan Simmons

A tepid but literary sequel to Summer of Night.

A Winter Haunting

HarperTorch, 2002, 371 pages

A once-respected college professor and novelist, Dale Stewart has sabotaged his career and his marriage - and now darkness is closing in on him. In the last hours of Halloween, he has returned to the dying town of Elm Haven, his boyhood home, where he hopes to find peace in isolation. But moving into a long-deserted farmhouse on the far outskirts of town - the one-time residence of a strange and brilliant friend who lost his young life in a grisly "accident" back in the terrible summer of 1960 - is only the latest in his long succession of recent mistakes. Because Dale is not alone here. He has been followed to this house of shadows by private demons who are now twisting his reality into horrifying new forms. And a thick, blanketing early snow is starting to fall.

This book is a sequel to Summer of Night. Dan Simmons, a prolific author better known for his science fiction, often seems to be imitating Stephen King when he writes horror. Summer of Night was extremely reminiscent of King's It, and in A Winter Haunting, one of the kids in that book returns as a washed-up college professor forty years later to the little Illinois town where it all went down. Just as King's Doctor Sleep featured a grown-up Danny from The Shining.

Dale Stewart isn't a psychic, though. He's just a guy who helped his friends save their town from an ancient evil when he was 12 years old. Then he grew up, became a writer and college professor, and had an affair with a hot young graduate student and became completely unhinged when she dumped him. So he returns to Elm Haven, rents the house his old friend Duane used to live in, supposedly to get some solitude and writing time, but really to run away from the mess he's made of his life.

Few of the other characters from the first book really feature in this one, though. There's a ghost-narrator, and Dale's childhood bully returns, of course, but this story is mostly independent of the first one. Dale experiences hauntings, gets run off the road by skinheads, almost bangs the hot girl from his teen years, and questions his sanity.

Dan Simmons is a very literary author, so this otherwise typical ghost story is full of classical references, and a well-executed story arc, but there really isn't much connecting it to the previous book.

Also by Dan Simmons: My reviews of Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, The Rise of Endymion, Ilium, Olympos, and Summer of Night.

My complete list of book reviews.
Tags: books, dan simmons, horror, reviews

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