Tomes of Shadowstalking

Welcome to the land of shadows, where evil is the greatest power, where nightfall marks the birth of terror, where your very soul is at risk. Join me as I investigate worlds filled with black magic and dark souls and encounter the monsters rule these wicked places.

W A R N I N G !

This review does not represent the opinions of the general public. It reflects my personal thoughts and opinions on the book.

That said, on to the review!

Title: A Winter Haunting
Author: Dan Simmons
Publisher: Harper Torch Fiction
Format: Paperback
Copyright Date: 2002

Dale Stewart has returned to Elm Haven, Illinois. Not to his old childhood home, but to the home of his childhood friend, Duane McBride, the same friend who, in that far off summer of 1960, was killed by a haunted piece of farm equipment. But Dale remembers very little of the events of that terrible year. The years between then and now--or perhaps a desperate unconscious desire--have buried those memories so deeply that he can recall only a time of terror, and no details at all. Now, though, with his return to Elm Haven, he has awakened something old and ancient that threatens to destroy his sanity entirely. Who is sending the strange messages to Dale's laptop? What is the meaning of the strange dogs that are stalking around the McBride farm, where Dale is staying? Who are the strange people from his past that he's seeing everywhere, people who to him are as real as life but whom most everyone else acknowledges as dead? And will he survive the skinhead Neo-Nazis who are determined to hurt him for his attacks--all unknowning--of their beliefs? In the end, which will get to Dale first, the ghosts of the past or the fiends of the present?

A Winter Haunting is, like its predecessor, a creepy, haunting novel. And although it is in most ways a sequel to Summer of Night, this book could ostensibly be read all by itself without reference to the events in the other. Actually, given that Dale is himself unsure of all the events of that dark summer, the reader is no less in the dark about it all than he is. Or, rather, the reader is as in the dark as Dale is...or something like that.

There are two things about this book that I really enjoyed about this book. One was the continual references to all sorts of old literature, from Old English (Beowulf) to other languages. Although I read most of Beowulf in Old English and in translation while working towards my Master's degree, I couldn't immediately recall all the references, but it still tickled my memory to see it still so important to modern fiction. I also enjoyed all the supernatural details that came to light, especially everything that Dale related about ancient Egyptian legends and folklore (which, if you've read Summer of Night, played a large role in that book). I found it especially interesting that a minor character in the first book, Cordie Cook, should be brought back to life in another of Simmons' books, Fires of Eden as Cordie Stumpf. Okay, that's three things, but who's really counting?

A Winter Haunting is precisely what its title says it is about: a winter's haunting. You can take the title any way you want--about a ghost story in the winter, a man in the darkest period of his life dealing with the ghosts of his past--it doesn't change the fact that the book is a good, captivating read. Enjoy!

Rating:Thumbs up! With nothing left to lose, will Dale let his past swallow him whole?

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This page posted February 16, 2002.

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