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Summary

At midnight comes the point of balance. Of danger. The instant of utter stillness when, between two beats of the heart, an alternative reality can slip through, like a blade between the ribs, and switch you into a new and terrifying world.

Four Past Midnight: four heart-stopping accounts of that moment when the familiar world fractures beyond sense, the fragments spinning away from the desperate, clutching reach of sanity....

©1990 Stephen King (P)1991 Penguin Highbridge Audio

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Stephen King goes to the twilight zone.

Would you consider the audio edition of Four Past Midnight to be better than the print version?

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As a fan of the original Twilight Zone and as a Constant Reader I loved what in my mind was four episodes of the one created by the other.

One Past Midnight, "The Langoliers" The characters awake on a airplane to find that everyone else has disappeared. This soft science fiction novella focuses mostly on characters rather than science fact. This story has the least amount of tension due to the crowdedness of the characters. It does have its moments though. The characters are all interesting, I did care about them and I thought they complemented the concept to make a good listen. Willem Defoe's narration was excellent. He does a descent English accent (as an Englishman I appreciate that) and I liked the background sounds as well.

Two past midnight, "Secret Window, Secret garden" centres around a theme of confrontation. John Shooter thinks Mort Rainey owes him a story, Mort disagrees, physiological warfare ensues. From the off its clear which direction this novella is heading, King doesn't disappoint. This was the story I wanted The Dark Half to be plus James Woods narration was fantastic, again I liked the back ground sound editing. As an audiobook fanatic its nice to hear creativity outside of the narrator. Seriously though, James Woods sounded like he enjoyed reading it.

Three past midnight "The Library Policeman". My mind's eye converted this story to black and white, it had nearly all of the Twilight Zones tropes but was also a lot darker. Sam needs to spice up his public speech. He goes to the local library to get some extra material, but he gets far more than he bargains for. The secondary characters in this one have lots of hidden depths. This was a nice listen, Ken Howard delivered a smooth story as well as moments of tension. A word of warning on this one though, I did find one scene really disturbing, I don't want to ruin the story but be warned if the reading is going to a place you don't like skip it a couple of minutes or so. Still a stellar listen though.

Four Past Midnight 'The Sun Dog'. A broken camera takes the same haunted picture over and over again, or does it? This story follows father and son, son and scoundrel. Plenty of twists and turns. Tim Sample's narration was first class. He made multiple voices, each of which elevated the characters.

I was disappointed that the introductions were missing. In
the hardback book Stephen King gives an overall introduction and individual introductions to each story. Also in a perfect world I would have loved to have Rod Sterling narrate one of these stories but still really enjoyed this collection.

19 people found this helpful

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It crawls through the back of your neck


Four long novellas for the price of one book, what more could you ask for. Most writers would have padded the stories a little bit and sold them separately, but not Stephen King, his output is amazing and the stories are solid King territory, America at its best and worst, drunks and monsters, children and the terror of growing up with dark secrets and abuse ( a recurring theme in all of his books) these themes get put aside for in favor of emphasising the gore when discussing his work.

I have been re-reading his books and doing so I find patterns and repetitions that point to a man that is concerned with children's suffering and what changes them, alcohol is a big character in most stories a presence that changes lives a hiding place were horror gathers all its toys.

The Library policeman is the best story for my taste and the most disturbing. Sun Dog is surrealistic and the best father-son he has written. Langoliers is a very different time travel story. Secret Window Secret Garden, is a breakup story like no other. Take your pick, I take them all.

13 people found this helpful

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Worth a listen

As expected some great stories but not as strong as some of his other 'novella' collections. Let down by poor narration. The narrator's British accent in the Langoliers is both comical and awful

8 people found this helpful

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Turgid nonsense, badly narrated

I am a Stephen King fan, but these four short stories must be the worst things he's ever written. All four are pointless and meandering codswallop.
But worse still, the four narrators are awful. The first seems to think English and South African accents are interchangeable. The second....actually I'll leave it there.
Avoid at all costs!!

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Four stars for four tall tales

Langoliers: Willem Dafoe reads what is essentially an updated version of the Twilight Zone's 'King Nine will not return' while confusing English accents with South African. Brings a two star story up to a four

Secret Window Secret Garden: Hades is by far the best star narrator since Paul Giamatti, taking a predictable thriller and turning it into the verbal equivalent of a Three Card Monty game. You don't really care what happens as long as Woods is narrating at his rat-a-tat pace

Library Policeman: Excellent buildup to a terrible conclusion, saved by the fantastic narration of Ken Howard. Think RC Bray reading Stephen King and you'll savour this one

Sun Dog: Finally, both sides balance out. A great story, a fine narrator. Should have traded with Dafoe and it would have been an extra half star.

Buy if it's on offer but otherwise leave it on your wish list. I also should add at this point it's still better than anything King has conjured with in this century

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Good stories but the accents are distracting

Why do Americans have so much trouble with British accents? You’d think there were enough examples to learn from. However I’m currently listening to a “British” character who sounds like an uncomfortable fusion of Australian and South African with a large dollop of Dickensian Cockney thrown in for good measure. I find it really distracting, which is a shame as the book itself is very entertaining.

2 people found this helpful

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4th story hard to get into other 3 very addictive

4th story hard to get into other 3 very addictive , 4th does pick up so worth sticking with

2 people found this helpful

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Obsessed

Great choice of narrator for The Langoliers. Not so great the rest. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed all 4 novellas but I felt that Willem Dafoe was the only one who put his heart in to his narration. I love all 4 stories in here. Put it this way, I just plain LOVE Stephen King. A must have for any constant reader

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Never let's me down

Each story takes you into itself so completely that continued listening is mandatory. The narrators added a splash of interest but as usual it is the masterful stories that make this a five star read. Thank you Mr King.

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Mary Poppins meets Stephen King

Love Stephen King and this is a good collection of books but the narration spoiled it for me. Everytime Our ex SAS hero opened his mouth, I was filled with horror. Not because I was terrified but because I couldnt believe how bad the English accent was. He sounded exactly like Bert from Mary Poppins. it was cringeworthy and spoiled the whole collection. I never thought I would see the day when I returned an SK book but it has finally come.
Sorry Stephen, nothing to fo with your talent. Have to ask though, what were the production team thinking? Or maybe they just weren't.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-03-22

a heading is required

was great being able to revisit this book in audio book format, I found The Langolias was a bit of a hard listen at times due to the narrator but still love the 4 stories in this series