(Note: As I wrote this I realized I have yet to pick up The Terror, Simmons’ NEW novel released this year. Guess where I’m going this weekend. . .)
Call me a Dan Simmons fanboy if you like, because I’m proud as hell of it. And with good reason. That man can write like the devil.
NOW, Two of Dan Simmons’ classic horror tales have been reissued in paperback, and I highly advise you to buy them both. I have all of his books already, but I’ll probably get new copies of these since mine are dog-eared beyond belief. That happens when you keep re-reading books again and again.
Briefly, and without spoiling anything:
The first is Summer of Night, which has been called reminiscent of Stephen King’s IT or The Body (which was later made into the movie StandByMe). While I can see the comparison, Summer of Night focusing as it does on four young boys in a midwest town complete with cornfields and the cornfed, the Evil force that these boys confront is much more insipid than Pennywise in IT. Frankly this one gave me chills.
The second is Children of the Night, in which one of the boys from Summer of Night is now an adult who must once again contend against a supernatural foe. While not quite as gripping as Summer of Night, it’s still a compelling read and worth the time. This time, however, Dracula is involved, with a pseudo-scientific reason for existing, and the admixture of science and fantasy makes for a solid story.
HOWEVER, in my never humble but always honest opinion, if you really want the socks scared right off of you, there is a third Simmons book that will do the trick quite nicely. (Actually, “third” may not be technically correct because Amazon lists it as only his second novel.) I’ll warn you that it’s quite graphic in a few places, but if it’s horror you want, you won’t sleep for nights. Though it hasn’t recently been reissued, I’m confident that you can find copies of Carrion Comfort at your local bookstore. While “psychic vampires” may sound weird, this novel is among the cream of the horror crop. (I can’t understand how Abebooks can list them so cheap. I may have to buy a couple extra copies.) I lent it to a friend of mine who loves scary stuff as much as I do, and it gave him nightmares. Damned good story, though. As one Amazon reviewer put it:
If you’ve got anything more than a passing interest in Dan Simmons or horror, you owe it to yourself to set a week aside and devour this book.