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review 2015-07-10 23:37
A Winter Haunting - Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons returns to the territory of his classic novel Summer of Night in its sequel, A Winter Haunting. Taking place almost forty years after the events of its predecessor, Haunting sees Dale Stewart -- a recently divorced and suicidal college professor/author -- return to the small town of Elm Haven and the memories from childhood it holds for him.  He rents the home of a childhood friend for nine months, hoping to finish his latest novel and get a grip on his post-marriage life. 


From the start, I noticed this novel is a pretty brisk and succinct read -- usually, Simmons's novels are sprawling epics with a lot of back-story and world-building. A Winter Haunting clocks in at just over 300 pages, making it one of the briefest books in the Simmons canon. The action starts in the first chapter and does not let up until the last page. 


The idea of a man who has seemingly lost it all -- his wife, his kids, his stability, his will to live -- immediately brought to mind a novel that came out around the same time as this one, and that novel is Stephen King's Bag of Bones. In both, the story revolves around one man (with some peripheral characters, of course). Both of their marriages end brutally. Both are writers. Both hole up in a secluded house of importance, and both of those houses are haunted. Coming out in 2002, this book released four years after King's novel... and don't get me wrong! I don't think Simmons ripped off King in any way -- sure, the two novels are pretty similar at their cores, but King's tale is one of lost romance and moving on; Simmons's is of lost childhood and innocence. Perhaps Simmons was inspired by Bag of Bones, but whatever ideas it gave him blossomed into something radically different. I just thought I would point out the two books' similarities because I thought it was interesting. Maybe I'll read them back-to-back someday -- that could make for a very interesting blog post. 


Something I absolutely loved about this book is Simmons's ability to catch me off guard. I won't say too much because I'd hate to ruin the fun, so i'll just say this: nothing is what it seems. This place which Dale Stewart has returned to is not a nice place, and hasn't been a nice place for a very long time. It was bad in 1960 during his eleventh summer, but now -- here in 1999 -- it has only gotten worse. People aren't what they seem, and nothing is safe. There are horrors around every corner -- dark or otherwise. 


If I had to make a complaint, it would be Simmons's use of the "voice from beyond the grave" technique. The voice is that of a certain important character from Summer of Night. The voice narrates a good deal of the book, but not all of it. At times, I enjoyed his or her narration, but at other times it just felt intrusive and weird. By the story's end, Simmons's still hadn't given a satisfactory explanation of the voice to begin with, so I deducted half a star from my rating. It's not too big a deal, but it is sort of annoying. 


Of the two, I think I prefer Summer of Night if only because that book had more of an epic, all-worlds-are-involved feel. By comparison, this book is rather claustrophobic and chilly, but that is also fitting -- Dale Stewart has left the magic of childhood and grown into a depressed man with no real future prospects. It is prudent that Summer of Night be read before this one, but if you already have that horror classic under your belt.... then, by all means, look into this. 



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text 2015-07-07 20:51
Reading progress update: I've read 32 out of 303 pages.
A Winter Haunting - Dan Simmons

Ah, Dan Simmons. :) 

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text 2014-08-21 14:15
Book buying splurge to beat the blues :(
Nocturnal Emissions - Jeffrey Thomas
Afterlife - Douglas Clegg
Speak of the Devil: A Novel - Allison Leotta
A Winter Haunting - Dan Simmons
Wildwood Road - Christopher Golden
Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harrison
CLOWN - Matt Shaw
Lucky - Jackie Collins
Joyland - Stephen King
The Killing Kind - John Connolly


I also bought:




My book buying splurge is to try and make me feel better.


At the moment I'm struggling with work and feeling very overwhelmed with the upcoming workload which is set to increase with no extra staff to actually do the work. It's a struggle every day to maintain adequate staffing levels and being honest, it's taking it's toll.

Mid week I found that I almost at my breaking point, today I chatted (i.e. vented) to another manager and it was such a relief to not only get everything off my chest but to find that she too was feeling the pressure of the job.


On checking my ammy gift card balance, I found it was low and decided to top it up and send myself an animated gift card with the words 'It'll get better'. I know it will eventually but sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.


Thank crunchie it's nearly Friday.


Apologies for the downer post.

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review 2013-09-29 00:00
A Winter Haunting
A Winter Haunting - Dan Simmons Easy to read, but not a bit scary and the ending was a bit of a let down. I hade hoped to finally read a really scary book but I will have to continue to look for somehting that will scare me...
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review 2011-01-27 00:00
A Winter Haunting - Dan Simmons It turns out that this book is the sequel to a book, Summer of Night, that I've never read. It doesn't seem to matter much; I understood and liked it anyway.

It's a ghost story and a story about a man who has become self-destructive; an easy and entertaining read. It doesn't have the ambition of many Simmons novels, but it does have a few red herrings to keep you guessing about what is going on, as the past literally comes back to haunt the protagonist when he returns to his home-town and spends the winter trying to write a novel about his childhood in the home of his friend who died far too young.
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