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CompleteMartialArts.com - A Winter Haunting

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Manufacturer: HarperTorch
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 3.5/5Average rating of 3.5/5Average rating of 3.5/5Average rating of 3.5/5Average rating of 3.5/5

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Binding: Mass Market Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 813
EAN: 9780380817160
ISBN: 0380817160
Label: HarperTorch
Manufacturer: HarperTorch
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 384
Publication Date: 2003-01-01
Publisher: HarperTorch
Release Date: 2002-12-31
Studio: HarperTorch

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Editorial Reviews:

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 ...

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5
Summary: Simmons hits or misses with me; this is a miss
Comment: As a ghost story, Dan Simmons' A Winter Haunting disappointed me. It's neither scary nor thrilling. The storyline plods, the protagonist is not particularly likable, and the ending falls flat.

Maybe the novel is not a ghost story, but it is set up as one. In Elm Haven, Simmons presents a decaying, depressing place, the ideal setting for a ghost story. The protagonist, Dale, has bottomed out in his life, the ideal character for a ghost story. When things get weird for Dale, the author balances the supernatural explanations (ghosts) with more natural ones (sleeplessness, madness, pharmaceutical reactions), another staple of ghost stories. And of course there are ghosts.

In my opinion, Simmons ruins this novel with all the literary references/allusions. He has done this before, in Ilium and Hyperion, both of which failed to dazzle me. In this novel, the references to Beowulf, Henry James, and obscure languages obfuscate the plot; they do not enrich it. Additionally, the flashbacks to Dale's time with Clare retard the pace and atmosphere. I think that a ghost story relies on an escalation of tension, and the flashbacks stunt that buildup. Also, the author labors over the descriptions of setting; do we really need to know the models of various houses? Finally, the novel contains a mystery regarding Duane's demise, but Dale does not solve it. It gets solved for him. Shouldn't the main character solve the mystery? Instead of having Dale rush off to the library to decrypt some bizarre ghostly email, Simmons should have had him investigate the circumstances of his childhood friend's death.

I like Dan Simmons, and I like how he experiments with different genres. Song of Kali, The Crook Factory, and The Terror are excellent, atmospheric novels. When he chooses to tell a straightforward story, Simmons excels. For me, when he injects his novels with literary meaning, he stumbles. Simmons is a good writer, but in my opinion, A Winter Haunting is not a good book.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Loved it... One of the best "Haunting" stories I have read
Comment: This is my second Simmons novel, and I must say that he is fast becoming one of my favorite writers. I read this book without knowing that "Summer of Night" came before it... which is sad because I bought them both together an am now apparently reading them out of order. Never the less, I had no trouble following the story without having read the preceding novel. I think having read it would have filled me in a bit on some of the information that the sheriff seems to randomly blurt out toward the end of the novel, but it didn't really bother me.

Dale is an interesting character; pitiful, deplorable at times, yet not so appalling as to make him hard to root for. After destroying his life and his relationships through bad choice after bad choice, a failed suicide attempt sends him back to his childhood to try to write a novel while sorting through his past. Dale drifts in and out of possible madness, as the reader you are never sure... is he being haunted by ghosts? His past? Or simply madness? Is he loosing his mind or are there hell hounds growing and growling in the night outside of his childhood friend's house. The tragic death of his childhood friend has scarred him, though we are never sure how deeply. Is Dale writing notes to himself or communicating with his long dead childhood friend Duane?

Most of the complaints about the "slow pace" of the book come from the flashbacks Dale has of his life with Claire. Clair is not a very likeable person and we know that Dale has thrown his marriage away to be with her, and of course... it ended badly between them. Also we have chapters from the perspective of a spirit we assume to be Duane, watching Dale and telling us a bit of what he sees from the outside. The spirit chapters bothered me a bit; particularly at the end when I wondered why, if the spirit was so eloquent was it so cryptic in it's warnings to him. Perhaps it knew that Dale must traverse this path whether it wanted him to or not.

Dale's choice to live in his dead friend's farmhouse is a strange one, and when it seems that the reader has figured out what is going on, the twists guide you into a new direction. I went through a range of guesses hoping always to be wrong. For the most part I was, and I am glad for it. I like to be surprised by a novel. Though I didn't find the book to be "Hair Raising" or "Spine tingling" I did find it to be a wonderfully enjoyable read. Well written and perplexing without being confusing. You find yourself just as baffled by events as Dale and hoping that he finds a way to survive either the madness or the haunting. 4.5 out of 5 stars... excellent read!

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: wonderful sequel to summer of night
Comment: Dan Simmons is a great author.This was a very enjoyable and intense read.I couldnt put it down.I loved the characters in the book.Devinitlty a must read for any horror fan

Customer Rating: Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5
Summary: hard to stay with
Comment: I had a really hard time staying with this story.Some parts were good than it would very quickly get boring and drawn out,I found myself skipping over many pages.It is not a story that would stay with me,it just didn`t keep my interest.Not even half as good as the prequel.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: A Masterful Sequel to Summer of Night
Comment: Sequels seldom match the orginal book, but this story kept me reading. Actually, it is much more than a sequel: it's a novel in its own right, and you really don't have to read "Summer of Night" to enjoy it.

But if you haven't read "Summer of Night," I highly recommend that you do. Then read a "Winter Haunting."

In the original novel some boys helped save their town from evil forces. Centered around an abandoned school and the cemetery, this was a ten-star coming-of-age novel. In the sequel, the hero (now a man) returns to the town. Much has changed for the worse (the town has declined), and he finds that not all the evil characters he fought as a boy were destroyed.

The man meets a strange woman, but I'll stop here. I don't want to ruin the story. I'll just say that it's a great read.

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