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Four Past Midnight

Author: Stephen King
Published: 1990
Review by: CL5 missMaul

Two of the four stories in this book were my first experience with Stephen King (in Holland this book doesnít exist in one, but two books). And not a bad experience either. In this book you find four stories. All of them scary and about something that isnít possible, but they seem very close to reality. Maybe a bit too close for the liking of some people.

The first story you find is "The Langoliers", a story about an airplane, the present, the past and some of the passengers. It all starts when a pilot, Brian, enters an airplane, not to fly it himself but as a passenger. The stewardess tells him the Aurora Borealis can be seen, but heís seen it often and goes to sleep. A couple of hours later a blind girl, Dinah, wakes up but canít find her aunt. And then find out that there are only a couple of people left in the airplane. All of them were asleep, but still in the plane. Weird enough only the bodies are gone, all their luggage is still there. And theyíre still flying. When Brian lands them they find a deserted world being eaten by strange ball called Langoliers.

"Secret Window, Secret Garden" is the second story. This tells of the mildly successful writer Morton Rainey with a marriage that wasnít successful at all. Then one day in the summer someone wakes him with a knock on the door. When he opens the door he find a man called John Shooter Rainey: "You stole my story". Rainey had stolen the story he called Sowing Season, but Shooterís version is Secret Window, Secret Garden. Rainey denies and tries to find proof of his innocence. Only all the proof seem to be gone: stolen, burned, etc. At this point Rainey slowly starts to fair for his sanity and his life.

"The Library Policeman, Three Past Midnight." It all begins when Sam Peebles gets a book at the library to prepare a speech. The librarian warns him not to return it too late. But at the point he wants to return it, he canít find the book. Then he gets a visit of a tall man who says heís from the library police. He gives him 24 hours to return it. When Sam goes to the library the next day it has changed and the librarian appears to be a woman who died in 1960. She was a child murderer and commited suicide. But the library policeman is still after him, and he is very real.

And the last story is "The Sun Dog". At his 15th birthday Kevin Delevan gets what he asked for, a Polaroid "Sun 660" camera. Only every picture he takes shows a salivating "hell hound" coming closer and closer. The only one who seems to be able to help him is an untrustworthy antique dealer.

I especially enjoyed reading "The Library Policeman", since this was the very first Stephen King story Iíve ever read. Itís a exiting story about dealing with the fears of your childhood. The ending is a bit weird though, and a bit too long and complicated. Personally I would have let out the final part, since it is a bit too far-fetched. And it slows the story down completely. My second favorite is "The Langoliers". In this story stuff keeps happening, it doesnít get boring and the ending is good. Most of the characters are a bit flat, but that didnít disturb me. It has a lot of speed and action. For all who love that, a must read.

"Secret Window, Secret Garden" was a story I didnít like very much at first. The story doesnít have as much speed as "The Langoliers" and itís quite complicated. But when I started thinking about it, it really is good. The plot is good, and is well told. The characters are interesting, well the one character is. And because the main character tells the story and he is slowly loosing his sanity, you really have to think what is real and what not. This is a story for people who like to keep thinking during a story and want a smart plot. "The Sun Dog" is least of them all. Itís too long and slow. I really had to force myself to keep reading and almost came at a point where a wanted to put the book away. The ending is good, the plot aswell. But itís told with too many details. It could have been a lot better.

Itís a good book put together. Really good if youíre still a layman in the horror genre, but also if youíre diehard.