Review of 'A Winter Haunting'

A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons

a_winter_haunting.jpg Dale Stewart, a college professor and writer of trashy action novels returns to Elm Haven, the town he grew up in, to escape from a life that has been unravelling around him. His career in tatters as is his marriage he finds accommodation in the long-empty home of a boyhood friend killed in a tragic farm accident as a child. It is not as peaceful as he hoped as he is repeatedly troubled by unexplained lights in the unoccupied second story of the house, large black blood-thirsty dogs, a childhood bully who is now sheriff, mysterious laptop messages from someone fluent in medieval English, seemingly never-ending snowfall, his haunting memories of a difficult childhood, and a group of skinheads hell-bent on killing him. The odds are stacked against him and with a prior attempt at suicide how long will he survive?

It is a bit slow to get going but then as light starts to be thrown on some of the goings-on it picks up pace leading to a somewhat anti-climatic finale. This story will keep you guessing all the way avoiding as it does many of the familiar clichés of ghost stories. Indeed in the course of the novel these tropes are often directly referenced and dismissed by Dale.

Stephen King is quoted as “I am in awe of Dan Simmons” on the cover though it is unclear whether this is awe of Dan Simmons' horror writing or his more well-known Science Fiction classics. Judging from what I have read here his horror is quite good, if not fantastic as his SF writing undoubtedly is.

A fairly light read that I found enjoyable. Only really enthralling me in any way as I approached the end.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2015-06-26

Genre: Crime/Mystery

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: 2002

ISBN: 9780380817160

Other reviewed books by Dan Simmons: