Four Past Midnight by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A re-read after more than twenty years. Will it stand up?
Short answer: Absolutely. :)
The Langoliers fits snugly in the New Weird category, pretty much entirely esoteric SF with gremlin-types, alternate dimenions and/or time travel on a plane... There are no snakes here! :) The characters are a blast and we've got a firm horror vibe going on here where we are kept guessing as to who among all these random sleepers will make it to the end. Thoroughly enjoyable novella, but not my favorite. It's probably best that it was relegated to a TV movie. :)
My favorite is a toss up between Secret Window, Secret Garden, and The Library Police.
First, though, Secret Window, Secret Garden, which only slightly resembles the movie with Johnny Depp, or at least more or less. :)
This one was pretty fantastic for the writing insights, the plagiarism scare, the descent into paranoia, and the general ultimate break from reality. What's better than a writer being driven completely crazy by a story and/or a man with a definite grudge over a story? No spoilers, but so many wonderful twists happen, couldn't help but fall in love all over again.
And then there's The Library Police, which is a wonderful twist on early childhood nightmares, a diatribe on fear, Red Licorice, and a cool twist on vampirism. It was definitely probably the most effective and convoluted of all the novellas in this book, I think, and also the most scarily fantastic, diving into some of the most weird and eerie escapades, even outdoing Secret Window, Secret Garden on several levels, but maybe not as much for the MC.
The last novella, The Sun Dog, is classic SK not only for setting dropping and character dropping, but also in the twist he's known for... turning everyday objects into a nightmare of continuing and evolving proportions, driving all those involved into a deeper and deeper despair and fear. :)
Does SK have a think about mad dogs? Even Cujo was referenced here. But the dog in the photograph has got to be even better in this novella. It's absolutely more elusive and menacing, giving up on immediate danger and far-off menace for a much more paranormal and evil menace that gave me, at least, a more pervasive and ongoing fear.
It also happened to be my least favorite of the bunch, but it was still effective. :)
The middle two were plainly amazing, though. :)
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