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Four Past Midnight (Signet) Mass Market Paperback – September 3, 1991

4.2 out of 5 stars 207 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jet passengers are stuck in a time-slip, a psychopath accuses a writer of plagiarism, a man with an overdue book encounters a demonic librarian and a boy's camera snaps photos of a huge and nasty dog in these four horror novellas. According to PW , "None is wildly scary, and only "The Library Policeman" offers King's typical, colloquial, hard-driving conversational style with its compulsive readability."
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-- Like some denizen of the dark, King weaves a spell evoking terror and shivers as he takes readers on a nightmarish journey in this quartet of novellas. In "Longoliers" a group of airline passengers awake to an empty plane, and an empty world. They have become stuck in time, out of sync with the present at 20,000 feet. "Secret Window, Secret Garden" finds novelist Mort Rainey confronted by an eerie character who accuses him of plagiarism, and has come to settle up. In "Sun Dog," Kevin Delevan gets exactly what he wanted for his 15th birthday, a Polaroid "Sun 660" camera, but every picture he takes shows a salivating "hell hound" getting closer and closer. In "Library Policeman," the best of the four, Sam Peebles borrows two books from the library late one night, and the librarian warns him not to be late returning them. What Sam doesn't know is that she was a child murderer who committed suicide in 1960, and when he loses the books, her library policeman pays him a visit. Four Past Midnight is one of King's best recent works. It is hard to put down, truly chilling, and sure to be enjoyed by YA horror aficionados everywhere.
- John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Signet
  • Mass Market Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Signet (September 3, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451170385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451170385
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.7 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (207 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I never thought I'd pick up a Stephen King book. The macabre is not an area which interests me; paper cuts produce enough blood to give me nightmares, thank you. However, after watching "Langoliers" on television one evening, I decided I would take a peek at the source material just to see how it compared.

I was honestly amazed. King may be hailed as the Master of the Macabre, but this man is first and foremost a *good writer*--all four of his novellas in this volume drew me in and gave me no choice but to keep turning pages to find out what happened next. It was a pleasant surprise to find so much wit and humor buried amidst the horror, and I can't help but be in awe of a man who can make you laugh out loud in a library one moment and make you hold the book out at arm's length with a mutter of, "Ew," the next.

Like so many others, I would call "Langoliers" my favorite--clever, engaging, and well-paced, it has a delightful coterie of characters and a Twilight Zone-esque plotline. Next would be a toss-up between "Secret Window, Secret Garden" and "Library Policeman." I'm not certain why so many people dislike SWSG; Mort Rainey was perhaps the most strongly drawn character of the lot. And while LP is certainly excellent, it had too much gore for sheer gore's sake to win an unchallenged second favorite slot. (Some say that LP is nothing but perversion. I would disagree. Its scenario is revolting, yes; disconcerting, yes... and entirely too plausible in real life.)

"Sun Dog" is probably the story that cost the book a star in my rating, for while chilling in its way and well-written by all accounts, it seemed the most shallow and downright absurd in retrospect. (Yes, I take the licorice from "Library Policeman" into account when I say that.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The shorter Stephen King keeps his stories, the better they often are. "Four Past Midnight" is very effective because he doesn't have room for unnecessary flourishes and simply sticks to the story. The first of the four stories, "The Langoliers," is one of his most imaginative and all time best. The other three stories are also quite good. Frankly, King would be an even better writer if he told all of his stories with the economy of words that he gives the tales in "Four Past Midnight."
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I liked all the stories, some more than others.
The Langoliers - This was definitely my favorite story out of them all. It was interesting and different from the other things that I've read. Sometimes the characters got a little boring though. I think the ending seemed a bit rushed so it was a let down from the rest of the story. You should read this if you're on the plane or if you're planning to fly soon... it'd make you think again.
Secret Window, Secret Garden - At first I found this story quite boring and simple, but then it turned out to be much more. My favorite part of this story was the ending because it was just completely unexpected. It was a nice twist.
The Library Policeman - I think that this story just progressed too slowly. Many parts seemed to drag on forever.
The Sun Dog - Like "The Library Policeman", this story progressed too slowly. Some parts of it were interesting, but there were a lot of parts that I just wanted to skip! The ending was a disappointment as well
What I like about all the stories is the detail that Stephen King often includes. While reading certain parts, you can see the whole scene happening in front of you in slow motion because of the detail.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Truth be told, I am not a great Stephen King fan. The first book I ever read from him was Desperation and, unfortunately, I did not like it. By nature, I am more into the Michael Crichton type of authors.

Nonetheless, about two or so years after reading Desperation, I was searching around for a book to read and came upon this by Stephen King, so I asked myself why not? I was pleasantly surprised by how well written and exciting the stories contained with this book are.

Let me break it down story by story.

1) The Langoliers - A fine story by any measure. I started reading this sometime in the afternoon and I simply couldn't put it down until I finished late in the evening

Not only is the premise of the story incredibly interesting, but the execution was well appreciated. The pace of the story and the character development (save for a few characters) left little to feel disappointed about, but the plot was especially deserving of praise.

Normally, it is advise that one saves the best for last but the Langoliers is hardly a small feat of story telling. Great story no matter how you look at it!

2) Secret Window, Secret Garden (SWSG) - Also a finely written story. Has a finely woven plot and I consider a great second read about finishing the Langoliers.

But as they say, even the best stories has its fair share of flaws. SGSW's most obvious flaws, at least for this reader, lies in the pacing of the given clues and the ending.

By the pacing of the clues, what I mean is how King spread out the clues to the final answer. SWSG contains an a very enjoyable mystery to solve and like any good mystery stories, the clues were given out accordingly.
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