Books by Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons was born in 1948 in Peoria, Illinois. He attended Wabash College, graduating in 1970 with a degree in English. Simmons' first novel, Song of Kali, won the World Fantasy Award. In 1989, his Hugo Award-winning novel, Hyperion was published. It i


THE FIFTH HEART by Dan Simmons
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 24, 2015

"It's a lot of fun, too, once disbelief has been suspended and tongue tucked firmly into cheek."
"They were the footprints of a gigantic dove!" Sherlock Holmes meets the Brahmins in this lively, imaginative mashup, done in trademark Simmons (The Abominable, 2013, etc.) fashion.Read full book review >
THE ABOMINABLE by Dan Simmons
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 22, 2013

"Simmons never once blinks in the face of the improbable, and he serves up a lively, eminently entertaining adventure that would do Edgar Allan Poe—and even Rudyard Kipling—proud."
A yeti? Jawohl! Read full book review >
BLACK HILLS by Dan Simmons
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 1, 2010

"There are rewards here, but Simmons (Drood, 2009, etc.) buries an appealing protagonist and an intriguing story under the crushing weight of a tome. "
At Little Big Horn, Custer's ghost enters the body of an 11-year-old American Indian and commingles there for close to 500 pages. Read full book review >
CARRION COMFORT by Dan Simmons
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 1, 2009

"A satisfying story that delivers everything it promises."
Does evil exist? You betcha—and you will obey it. Read full book review >
DROOD by Dan Simmons
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2009

"A lively entertainment, reminiscent of Nicholas Meyer's Seven-Percent Solution—and a worthy rejoinder to Dickens's swan song."
A suspenseful and spooky descent into the last days of Charles Dickens, who expired before he could complete his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Read full book review >
THE TERROR by Dan Simmons
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 8, 2007

"One of Simmons' best."
Horror novel based on an ill-fated 19th-century polar expedition. Read full book review >
OLYMPOS by Dan Simmons
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: June 1, 2005

"Ambitious, witty, moving: Simmons at his best."
A sequel to Simmons's Ilium (2003) offers up the Trojan War along with elements from The Tempest, The Time Machine, Victorian poets and pop SF. Read full book review >
HARD AS NAILS by Dan Simmons
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 13, 2003

"No one changes lanes from SF to horror to crime fiction more dextrously than the prolific, protean Simmons, who however, whenever, seldom provides less than a page-turner."
Ex-p.i., ex-con Joe Kurtz (Hard Freeze, 2002, etc.) is on the dodge from gunslingers galore bent on rendering him just plain ex. Read full book review >
ILIUM by Dan Simmons
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 22, 2003

"Just as unwieldy and pretentious as it sounds, but Simmons (Worlds Enough & Time, 2002, etc.) never lets the story get away from him, using copious amounts of wit to keep the action grounded—and utterly addictive."
A three-pronged start to another gigantic series from Simmons (the Hyperion Cantos) that will leave most readers waiting breathlessly for the next installment. Read full book review >
WORLDS ENOUGH & TIME by Dan Simmons
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Dec. 4, 2002

"Like a book by Stephen King, whom Simmons references, this is an uneven if always readable collection highlighted by his charmingly chatty introductions to each story."
An easily absorbed, if none-too-challenging, batch of five long stories from the creator of the Hyperion series. As Simmons ("Fall of Hyperion") explains it, the volume should be considered a Zen garden, with all the elements in balance and plenty of room for reflection. It doesn't bode well if you're on the lookout for absorbing fiction, but fortunately the pieces here are more dramatic than his somewhat (as even Simmons admits) pretentious pronouncement would suggest. Falling more into the vein of an adventure tale is "On K2 with Kanakaredes," in which a team of hard-core mountaineers make a deal to stay out of jail by agreeing to bring the son of an alien visitor with them on their treacherous K2 ascent. The climb is intricately detailed and wrenchingly dramatic, even if the climax comes out of left field. The most engaging and confusing entry is "The Ninth of Av," set in the year 3001 and populated by a seemingly small band of humans and a mysterious race of "post-humans" who can be teleported around the world by a process referred to as "faxing." The humans are getting ready for the "final fax," a Rapture-like event that will send their beings whirling into the ether for 10,000 years while the posts fix the damaged Earth for their return. There's a grimly poetic On the Beach feel to the tale that carries through its baffling and chilling denouement. Of lesser interest are the bland "The End of Gravity," about a millionaire American who buys his way on to a Russian rocket, and "Orphans of the Helix," a spin-off set in Simmons's Hyperion universe that is too slight a construction to be of interest to most non-Hyperion fans. "Looking for Kelly Dahl," in which a schoolteacher hunts through a world created by a crazed ex-student of his, has an old-fashioned tinge to its simple story that keeps it interesting without being especially memorable. Read full book review >
HARD FREEZE by Dan Simmons
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 26, 2002

"Kurtz, out of Simmons—a spellbinder who hops from SF (A Winter Haunting, 2002, etc.) to thrillers (The Crook Factory, 1999, etc.), leaping genres like a literary rabbit—makes a riveting protagonist for the noir-is-beautiful crowd."
Joe Kurtz, out of Joe Conrad, out of Heart of Darkness, and clearly out of luck after 12 bitter years in Attica, knows that someday he'll die violently. But he's not about to let that day come today or tomorrow, and certainly not at the hands of stumblebums as inept as the Three Stooges, those ham-handed hit men sent after him by crime boss "Little Skag" Farino. Swiftly doing for two of his feckless assailants, Kurtz leaves the third Stooge to freeze in a typical Buffalo blizzard. Little Skag, last encountered in Kurtz's slam-bang debut (Hard Case, 2001), and now himself an Attica resident, seems decidedly ill-disposed, and Kurtz can't figure out why. Never mind; he has other enemies to worry about, from Little Skag's gorgeous, lethal sister, busily hiring her own corps of Kurtz-hunters, to Chief of Detectives Robert Gaines Millworth. Captain Millworth, a sociopathic chameleon and rampant nutcase, is a ring-tailed wonder at shedding identities and merrily murdering everyone in sight as he fashions each new made-for-homicide persona. He knows Kurtz is on to him. In a bristling climax, these two stone killers take each other on mano à mano, the loser to exit in a body bag. Read full book review >
HARDCASE by Dan Simmons
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 16, 2001

"Genre-hopping Simmons, who made his bones in SF before switching to thrillers like The Crook Factory (1999) and Darwin's Blade (2000), handles the carnage here as confidently as if he'd teethed on a .45."
Joe Kurtz emerges from Attica, after doing his 11 years for killing the man who killed his partner/lover Samantha Fielding, as stoic and focused as he went in. True, he'll never hold a private eye's license again. But that setback doesn't prevent him from telling Arlene Demarco, his former secretary, to quit her job, find a new office, and start looking around for computers and phone equipment. Even before he's settled into his new storefront, the windowless basement beneath an X-rated video place, Kurtz has already landed a job investigating the disappearance of Buell Richardson, missing accountant to Buffalo's once-powerful Farino crime family—except that isn't exactly what the job really involves. Kurtz's actual terms of employment will take him into the bed of wheelchair-bound Don Byron Farino's ambitious daughter Sophia, up against a Farino bodyguard who's perhaps a tad too sensitive about the harmless names he's called, and onto a collision course with nine different killers—ex-Crip Malcolm Kibunte, his wild-eyed sidekick Cutter, his associate Doo-Rap, Kurtz's mortal enemy Manny Levine, a professional assassin called the Dane, and the four Alabama Beagle Boys—who'd love nothing better than to empty their weapons into him, and get repeated chances to try. Old hands at this genre will know better than to form foolishly sentimental attachments to any of them. Read full book review >
A WINTER HAUNTING by Dan Simmons
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

"A rich read most jackals will take kindly to."
Sequel at half the length to Simmons's 1990 baggy-pants small-town Illinois childhood nostalgia fest, Summer of Night, told partly through the hovering spirit of Duane, an 11-year-old genius chewed to pieces by a corn combine 40 years ago. Read full book review >
DARWIN’S BLADE by Dan Simmons
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 1, 2000

"Peppered with amusing descriptions of accidents, some reminiscent of urban legends: a solid bit of entertainment, and Dar a likely prospect for a series."
A smart, well-researched thriller, heavy on macho accessories like sniper rifles and sports cars, from Hugo Award-winning, genre-hopping Simmons (The Crook, 1999, etc.). Read full book review >
THE CROOK FACTORY by Dan Simmons
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 10, 1999

Simmons leaps from fat genre novels (suspense/horror/sf fantasy) to fat mainstream historical suspense in retelling the story of Ernest Hemingway's submarine-chasing exploits off Cuba in 1942—43. As is often the case with the author's overplanned and hyperdetailed novels, this one boasts proliferating plots and subplots. At its center lolls the brawnily bravura Falstaffian bully/braggart Hemingway, who at age 43 lives with fourth wife Martha Gellhorn in their finca outside Havana, coasting on the great reviews of For Whom the Bell Tolls from two years earlier and editing his anthology Men at War; Hemingway is also overdrinking and trying to assemble a raggle-taggle spy group (or crook factory) in Havana to support his pursuit of Nazi subs with his famed fishing boat, Pilar, while falling under the spell of the FBI and IRS (who undermine his sanity, causing the paranoia that later leads him to suicide). And that barely scratches the surface. Simmons also takes on Hemingway's sense of "the-true gen"—that is, how things work: guns, boats, boxing, fishing—and rivals him at his own game by creating a smartly characterized narrator, FBI agent Joe Lucas, who reads no fiction, has never read a word of Hemingway, and outsmarts Papa on boats, boxing, guns, and the true gen of spycraft. Simmons claims that ninety-five percent of his book is "true," derived from FBI files. Regardless, though, what helps vastly is that utter pragmatist Joe Lucas, fatally ill, has only nine months to write the book, unburdened by any strivings for an artistic excellence he knows nothing about. Thus when Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman show up to talk about filming For Whom the Bell Tolls, Joe has only the vaguest idea of what's under discussion. Also on hand: foppish top spy Commander Ian Fleming, getting charged up for his James Bond novels. For a change, Papa never utters a syllable that rings false. Meantime, Simmons (Children of the Night, 1992, etc.) more than handily ladles out suspense, a German Mata Hari, and a steady stream of solemn bemusement. Read full book review >
THE RISE OF ENDYMION by Dan Simmons
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 11, 1997

Another (maybe final?) installment in Simmons's massive far- future odyssey (Endymion, 1996, etc.). The Pax of the Church has formed an unholy alliance with the TechnoCore of artificial intelligences. In return for the cruciform parasites that offer personal immortality, the Pax declares holy war on the peaceful Ousters, whom the Core considers a threat. Meanwhile, on distant Earth, the hybrid girl Aenea—who can perceive parts of the future- -prepares to outwit both the Pax and the Core. Aenea's champion and lover, Raul Endymion, protected by the fearsome robot Shrike, enters the defunct forecaster network to locate his ship, while Aenea shares her blood with her growing band of followers: The blood drives out cruciforms and also allows everyone to develop the empathy necessary to commune with the Void Which Binds, a sort of virtual-space shared consciousness that confers both understanding and super-powers. The Core, being hyperparasites, cannot develop this empathy. Finally, Aenea must suffer a dreadful martyrdom in order to spread her message throughout the human universe, whereupon the Pax collapses. As hypercomplicated as ever, though with less story and more explanations and padding; still, Simmons's scope is truly staggering, his inventiveness continues to impress, and the narrative offers something for everyone—at least some of the time. Read full book review >
ENDYMION by Dan Simmons
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Jan. 1, 1996

Another episode in Simmons's vast and hypercomplicated far- future saga (The Fall of Hyperion, 1990, etc.). Now, the repressive Pax of the Church rules human space through its possession of ``cruciforms,'' symbiotes that allow the dead to be resurrected. On planet Hyperion, woodsman Raul Endymion is snatched from death row by the thousand-year-old poet Martin Silenus and given the task of protecting the child Aenea, who will shortly emerge from the Time Tombs having time-traveled from 264 years in the past; Aenea is destined to save humanity, and Raul is her designated hero. Other matters on Silenus's list of things for Raul and Aenea to do: find planet Earth, long since mysteriously vanished; defeat the TechnoCore, a hostile and immensely powerful alliance of advanced artificial intelligence; form a friendship with the weird space- dwelling Ousters—oh, yes, and destroy the Pax and topple the Church. Unfortunately, the Pax knows about Aenea, and sends Father Captain de Soya in his state-of-the-art, superfast spaceship to capture her. So Raul, Aenea, and the ancient android Bettik flee into the planet-hopping network of ``farcaster'' portals. Eventually, an invulnerable construct, sent by the Core back from the future, will show up to assassinate Aenea—but she'll be defended by the enigmatic Shrike, previously considered hostile to all humans. Intriguing ideas and above-average characters in a choppy narrative marred by friable plotting: gripping sometimes, though equally often glutinously overdetailed—and series regulars will note the endless scope for further installments. Read full book review >
FIRES OF EDEN by Dan Simmons
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 27, 1994

A period romance masquerading as a metaphysical thriller disguised as a buddy movie, this latest novel from Simmons (Lovedeath, 1993, etc.) bridges two centuries and offers lots of plucky fun along the way. The smoldering garden of the title is Hawaii, where the golf- starved Japanese who have come to purchase billionaire Byron Trumbo's sprawling resort are as likely to discover severed hands on the 14th green as they are to encounter a giant talking pig that devours souls. Historian Eleanor Perry has a different motive for her visit—to solve the mystery of her Great Great Great Great Aunt Kidder, whose Hawaiian adventures with Mark Twain in 1866 will be paralleled by Perry's own. In each era, a grumpy cabal of local priests summons the forces of darkness to rid the islands of an unwanted white plague—missionaries in Aunt Kidder's day, real- estate tycoons in Perry's. Shifting deftly between the mid-1800s and the present, Simmons uses Aunt Kidder's journal to recount her unlikely romantic gambol with Samuel Clemens, not yet Mark Twain but acid-tongued nonetheless. The pair's climactic scene together, in which Kidder and Clemens slather themselves with rotten kukui- nut oil and descend naked into the underworld, approaches inspired hilarity without compromising suspense. Never really too cloying in its symmetries, the novel supplies Perry with her own confederates, who, while not possessed of Clemens's legendary wit, are substantially more than cardboard action figures. In a useful twist, it's Cordie Stumpf, Perry's hard-drinking sister in arms, who, with a reluctant Trumbo as her Twain, battles the novel's pig- god Mephistopheles to reclaim Perry's captured ghost and save the imperiled resort. Allying the women, literally, with female volcanic deities, Simmons even wedges a feminist angle into his already bulging anthropological primer. The flip side of a Don Ho single, short on poi and ukuleles but long on elemental carnage, vengeful immortals, and nimble plotting. Read full book review >
LOVEDEATH by Dan Simmons
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 9, 1993

Five darkly erotic short novels that entwine love and death, with horror boosting the sex, by World Fantasy Award winner Simmons (Children of Night, 1992, etc.). Simmons has never been more stylish than here, with the short novel form compressing his effects and squeezing a lurid glow from each page. Best of all, each piece stands richly distinct from its companions and casually shows fearful labors of research uncommon to the horror genre, with writing of an unhackneyed freshness seldom found among the kings and queens of gore. ``Entropy's Bed at Midnight'' tells of the woes and fears of an accident-insurance investigator, his mind a library of fatalities, whose young son died in a freak driveway accident and who now watches his five- year-old daughter set forth alone on a screamer slope for sleds. ``Dying in Bangkok'' unveils a sucker-tongued female vampire in a superbly drawn Bangkok, whose Thai clients pay her to suck blood from their erections—a revenge tale whose twist would delight Poe. ``The Man Who Slept with Teeth Women'' tells of the astral initiation of an adolescent Sioux who will be the wise man of his tribe, of his need to choose a bride from lovers with teeth in their vaginas, and of his climactic penetration. ``Flashback'' is an sf story about a near-future family hooked on a drug that induces flashbacks so that one may relive high-intensity and even imaginary moments in one's life. Explosively gory, ``The Great Lover'' is a relentless tour de force that may well become a classic (along with ``Dying in Bangkok''). Drawing on poems by WW I poets and attributing them to a single poet, this works a variation of the visionary Angel of the Somme (a glowing woman whom soldiers saw walking the battlefield) and turns her into Death as a languorously sexual Pre-Raphaelite goddess whose embrace transcends life. Enduring stuff—even more memorable than Simmons's novels. Read full book review >
THE HOLLOW MAN by Dan Simmons
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

Psychic fantasy science novel with a touch of horror, just enough to allow Simmons (Children of the Night, p. 564; Summer of Night, etc.) to keep his foot in that field as well. A promising device goes amiss into routine thuggishness and ends in ``probability reality.'' Gail and Jeremy Bremen are telepaths who met and married ten years ago. Together, they find relief from the psychobabble of voices around them, the minds of people they meet and a larger psychobabble grounded in the whole ``wave'' of human intelligence. When Gail dies of an inoperable tumor behind her eye, Jeremy freaks out, burns down their house, abandons his professorship, and goes on the road. In Florida, he witnesses a mob murder, is kidnapped by the mob, later escapes. Taken up by Miz Morgan, a rancher, he finds himself facing razorblade dentures over his important parts and escapes from her too. In Las Vegas, his mind-reading stands him well at the poker table; he's a huge winner, but the mob is back. After saving his life still again, he winds up in the hospital, enters the closed- off mind of a retarded blind boy, and finds Gail alive in a probable reality that the boy has put together from particles of Jeremy's mind. Throughout, in flashback, we are treated to far-out wave-particle theory about a unified wave of human consciousness that allows for transfer of mind or being. From this description, you might expect a lyrical novel featuring great psychic leaps of imagination. Simmons leaps, but where he lands in a parallel probability is far less vividly experienced than possibilities allow. The nostalgic opening chapter of Summer of Night is better than this whole novel. Nearly everyone whose mind gets read is sour and meanspirited. Big brainy equations, small rewards. Read full book review >
CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT by Dan Simmons
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 1, 1992

Simmons (Summer of Night, Carrion Comfort, Song of Kali, etc.) slips into Bram Stoker/Anne Rice territory and writes his best novel ever. The title's children of the night are those frail, ravaged infants we see televised from Romanian orphanages. Is it bad taste to suck blood from those fly-covered kids to pump up a commercial horror novel? Well, Simmons puts them to such imaginative use that ghastliness disappears. It seems that the late dictator Ceauescu and his wonderful wife Elena—in the pay of Romania's strigoi, the vampire family haunting Romania since the 1400's—outlawed birth control so that orphanages could burgeon as living blood banks for needy vamps. Vampire ruler Vernor Deacon Trent (Lord Dracula), who has had Castle Dracula rebuilt—after many, many centuries—is tired of life, wishes to die and to invest his title in his offspring, the infant Joshua. However, Joshua, now being kept in an orphanage, is adopted by American research hematologist Kate Newman, who takes him to America. Using marvelous equipment, she discovers that Joshua has both an extraordinary, all-encompassing blood type and an organ in his stomach for digesting blood and rebuilding it as a vehicle for superimmunity. Clearly, Joshua's blood, once the chemists can break it down, will supply agents that can lick AIDS, cancer, and you name it. (Simmons's strongest ploy is the superb panache of his immense and endless pedantry about blood types, which he treats as if Jesus were being reborn in this amazing blood gift.) But the strigoi chase down Kate and Joshua in the States, trash Kate's lab and research, and kidnap Joshua. Kate takes off for Romania in the company of a soon-to-resign Catholic priest (don't miss the bathtub scene as he breaks 18 years of celibacy), and once there fights her way to Castle Dracula on the eve of Joshua's investiture.... Toothsomely well written. Read full book review >
CARRION COMFORT by Dan Simmons
Released: April 24, 1989

Gigantic horror potboiler, weighing in at 636 pages and stuffed with boiled lamb, boiled beef, boiled chicken, with plenty of gouged-out eyes, burst brains, and a vat of human blood. Three mind-vampires meet in Charleston, South Carolina, to tote up their annual winnings in The Game and see who's ahead. These very, very old folks are two women, Nina and Melanie, and their friend Willi. Nina is a semiretired big businesswoman who now concerns herself only with her boutiques; Melanie doesn't do much of anything; and Willi, formerly a concentration-camp commandant, is now a Hollywood movie producer. They have the power to cloud men's minds and to Feed on the energies of the dying. In The Game, they kill dozens annually, love to sup on the works of serial killers and other lowlifes. It's 1980 and Nina wants to take credit for the death of John Lennon. Melanie wants to quit The Game. In the ensuing battle among them, each tries to murder the others. Within three chapters, Charleston police are trying to account for a bloodwave of ten deaths, most of them innocents. Nina, meanwhile, is going for the big time and a giant Feeding on mass slaughter. But a Jewish psychiatrist, who as a child had been mind-raped by Willi at Chelmno concentration camp, saw Willi's face in newsreels of Jack Ruby shooting Oswald and is now tracking him (and them) down. Also meanwhile, a secret US group called The Club, well aware of the mind-vampires, has mounted a vast battle against them, using its own mind-vampires to seek them out. And ugly, stunted mind-muncher Tony Harod, a Hollywood agent, who loves to rape stewardesses in the men's room during jet travel, has captured the brain of Shayla Berrington (Brooke Shields), had her strip to the buff by his Jacuzzi and go into orgasm. . . Simmons (1985-86 World Fantasy Award-winner for Song of Kali) never for a paragraph, much less a page—despite a fine-tuned sentence here and there—rises above footslogging. Nonetheless, should sell. Read full book review >
NIGHT VISIONS 5 by Stephen King
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 1, 1988

Seven old-fashioned, mostly dead-weight horror tales by three high-profde monster-mongers; only Martin's closing—and rousing—werewolf novella saves this collection from the Hall of Shame. In his opening three contributions, King again proves that the price of being prolific is occasional mediocrity. Kicking things off is "The Reploids," which Douglas Winter in his unctuous introduction calls "a virtual pastiche of the ironic, science fictional horror of the 1950's"; translate that to mean "tired"—as here King replays the soggy notion of someone from an alternate universe popping into ours (on the Johnny Carson show). Bad taste undermines his "Sneakers," unscary business about a haunted public toilet, and "Dedication," a truly repulsive tale of witchcraft that hinges on the eating of semen. Simmons, winner of a 1986 World Fantasy Award (for his first novel, The Song of Kali), fares little better with: "Mestastisis"—more ashes-in-the-mouth stuff, this about the real cause of cancer ("cancer vampires" that grow tumors inside people as a food supply); "Vanni Fucci is Alive and Well and Living in Hell"—flat satire in which an irate soul from Hell takes a bow on an evangelical talk-show; and "Iverson's Pits," an atmospheric but turgid period piece wherein Civil War vets fight their last battle on the blood-soaked and evil-drenched fields of Gettysburg. Thankfully, there's a pot of gold at the end of this muddy rainbow: Martin's "The Skin Trade," the longest entry here, a jet-powered, marvelously inventive and suspenseful tale brightened by flashes of humor and of true terror—about a female P.I., her werewolf pal, and their pursuit of a grim beast who's slaying and flaying victims in a gothic urban jungle. Advice: King—stop pulling dusty stories out of your drawer; Simmons—write another novel; Martin—rest easy, you've come up with a scream of a werewolf story. And reader—a more sophisticated horror collection by far lurks in the forthcoming Prime Evil (p. 570). Read full book review >

Illinois horror tale by a hot genre novelist whose recent works (Carrion Comfort, The Fall of Hyperion—both 1990) have disappointed but whose first novel, Song of Kali (1985), won the World Fantasy Award. After a superb opening chapter describing the chalkdust memories of a huge old elementary school building—a monster of architectural diversity that is about to be boarded up as a relic—Simmons begins gathering pages as if for a New Grub Street three-decker. Many familiar with Stephen King's "The Body" (filmed as Stand by Me) will feel they've been here before, as six preteen lads and a tomboy try to unravel the horror that stalks Elm Haven. How sweet they are, those 1960 childhood memories abloom under shadowy evening elms, and Simmons does a nice job feeding us endless rustling branches and darting black blobs and working up hellholes under a boy's bed while the novel treads water and grows fat on the crawlies. The first kid to be lost is Tubby, who goes down to the basement boy's room and finds a hole in the wall, climbs in, and is pretty much eaten alive. A second kid, Jim Harlen, climbs the closed-up nighttime building to its second floor and witnesses one of his old lady teachers talking with the phosphorescent corpse of an even older lady teacher—at which point he falls off the building and into amnesia. We think we are with Duane McBride for the story's run, but Duane is chewed to pieces midnovel by a rampaging corn combine. Along with the evil combine there is also a death-stinking dead-animals truck, called the Rendering Truck, that (shades of Christine) has a gory half-mind of its own. Among a boy's radio set that talks when it's not turned on; a WW I Old Soldier's ghoul-ghost whose nose can turn into a mosquito's bloodsucking proboscis; the haunted Borgia Bell in the school's belfry; and the wildly betoothed, burrowing, nine-foot black eels of back-rippling nastiness, we find ourselves (Simmons's big joke) in a live-action, flesh-rotting world of the infamous Sixties horror comic Tales from the Crypt. The King-like cursing of these kids is unconvincing, but this is otherwise a superior read in the genre. Read full book review >