Four Past Midnight Collection by Stephen King – Book Review

Four Past Midnight is a collection of four different horror novellas from Stephen King.

 

  1. The Langoliers

This is by far one of my favourite Stephen King stories. It is a science fiction, horror, mystery thriller with a chillingly spooky time travel theme. You can read my full review of the Langoliers here.

 

  1. Secret Window, Secret Garden

This story of a writer accused of plagiarism is probably known better in film format, as it starred Johnny Depp. However, as a book I couldn’t really get into it, finding it rather dull, boring and predicable.

 

  1. The Library Policeman

This one held the promise of an intriguing tale to scare the kiddies into returning their library books, but it just seemed to be a never-ending story. It started well, but eventually I just couldn’t wait for the end. Far, far too long. I lost interest altogether.

 

  1. The Sun Dog

The final novella is part of the Castle Rock Series and gives me goosebumps and chills all over, with its terrifyingly realistic descriptions and paranormal events. Don’t read it in bed at night when its dark, or you’ll be apt to get nightmares. Fair warning to those faint of heart.

 

Overall, at 4 out of 5 stars this is a great collection. With my personal favourites ‘The Langoliers’ and ‘The Sun Dog’, the best picks of the four stories.

The Hatching 3: Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone (Book Review)

Zero Day is the third instalment of Ezekiel Boone’s terrifying spider apocalypse trilogy, and after reading all of the edge-of-your-seat suspense and action in The Hatching, I had high hopes that this would be a really exciting and creepy set of books.

In The Hatching the world has been overrun with an extremely ancient species of cannibalistic, human-eating spider. After wreaking absolute chaos all over the planet, these terrifying spiders suddenly retreat, appearing to die in the process. At first, the monstrous threat is believed to be over. Then, thousands of egg sacs are discovered in various locations all over Los Angeles, including a large infestation covering the interior of the Staples Centre. These egg sacs are soon discovered all over the world.

Unfortunately in Skitter, book 2 of The Hatching trilogy, just when people begin to think that they are handling the situation, burning these egg sacs before they have a chance to hatch, it quickly becomes apparent that the problem is far too large and widespread for their initial efforts to be successful; Many strategically hidden egg sacs will survive and the spiders will return. Also as if all of this wasn’t bad enough, a massive glowing, pulsating egg sac as large as a pickup truck is discovered in Shinjin Prefecture, Japan.

Now, faced with the knowledge that 10% of the people in Los Angeles who survived the first wave of spider attacks are carrying egg sacs inside them, and that a large proportion of these individuals have been released from the quarantine zone, the President of the United States of America must accept that the spider problem is no longer contained, and drastic measures much be taken to ensure the survival of the human race.

How far will the American government go to safeguard their country, and how many people will die as a result? Can these spiders be defeated? Is anywhere safe from this terrifying threat? And just what is up with these giant glowing egg sacs?

 

Zero Day, like both of its predecessors, contains rather a lot of unnecessary dialogue, and persistently jumps around from one location to another. Some of these locations and events are meaningful and play an integral role in the story, however some are only briefly mentioned and simply serve the purpose of showing the epic scale of the disaster. As mentioned previously in earlier reviews, I think it would have made more sense to have stuck with a smaller number of strategic locations, helping to slim down the story a little and helping readers to keep track of events with a more limited number of characters.

Since this is the final book of The Hatching trilogy I had expected there too be far more action, and squeamishly terrifying events than there actually turned out to be. As such it was a little disappointing, rating at just 2 out of 5 stars. It did however, wrap the story up with a nice neat bow, bringing all of the different strands of the story together and coming to a satisfying conclusion.

 

See Also:

Book 1: The Hatching

Book 2: Skitter

The Mansion

The Hatching 2: Skitter by Ezekiel Boone (Book Review)

Skitter is the follow-up novel to Ezekiel Boone’s terrifyingly creepy debut The Hatching.

An extremely ancient, calcified egg sac has been unearthed beneath the Nazca Lines of Peru, and despite having been buried deep in the Earth for 10,000 years, the egg sac hatches releasing a cluster of creepy, ancient, flesh-eating arachnids upon the unsuspecting world.

Unfortunately, Peru isn’t the only place that these scary, carnivorous spiders have been discovered. With outbreaks in China, India, Europe and now the USA, the entire planet has descended into chaos, as these human, flesh-eating, carnivorous spiders quickly take over major cities across the entire world.

However, just as soon as the spiders appear they seem to suddenly die out. At first glance you might expect this horrific threat to be over, but in reality the real threat is only just beginning.

As scientific experts, government officials and the armed forces race to destroy the egg sacs which have popped up all over the globe, a disturbing discovery in Japan heralds a much larger, and more devastating problem, a second wave of spiders are coming.

 

Skitter is the second book in Ezekiel Boone’s spider infestation trilogy, and to properly understand and get the most out of this terrifyingly creepy story, it would be best to have already read its predecessor The Hatching. For those familiar with the original outbreak of arachnids, Skitter pushes forward with the spine-tingling reality that the spider situation is only going to get worse.

In similar fashion to the earlier book, Skitter is littered with a large number of different characters and locations. Some, many readers will recognise from the events portrayed in The Hatching, while others are newer, and quite often short-lived. It can be difficult and frustrating to keep track of such a wide variety of characters and locations, and I know many people will dislike the novel for that reason, myself partially included.

Unlike its predecessor though, it takes a little while before the real action of Skitter begins. While The Hatching was a ferocious onslaught of creepy-crawly, skittery things on eight, hairy legs, this is essentially the calm before the storm, in that quiet place between the first and second attacks. Therefore it can feel as though the reader is cheated a little when the story fails to reach a satisfactory conclusion, especially when the story hasn’t moved very far forward, and there are many questions requiring detailed answers. We’re asked to be patient, and wait for the release of the final instalment, if we wish to know how this terrifying story ends.

As much as I love the premise of this quite well-written, but creepy, arachnophobia inducing tale of terror, it has some problems and is unfortunately, nowhere near as entertaining as The Hatching resulting in a rating of just 3 out of 5 stars. I hope that the final novel will bring all of the numerous characters, locations and action sequences to a rewarding and satisfying end.

See Also:

Book 1: The Hatching

Book 3: Zero Day

The Mansion

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone (Book Review)

The Hatching, debut novel from writer Ezekiel Boone is a horrifyingly creepy, skin-crawling tale of apocalyptic proportions that will have you terrified of anything you see scuttling around on eight hairy black legs.

The book begins with a hiking expedition in Manú National Park, Peru, where a swarm of spiders attack a rich businessman and his associates. These scary, human flesh eating carnivorous beasts bury themselves in the body of Bill Henderson as he flees from the carnage, unwittingly transporting the deadly arachnid back across the border to North America.

Meanwhile, Peru is not the only place that this new, never before encountered species has hatched into existence, as it soon becomes clear that swarms of spiders are being spotted all over the globe. From Peru, to China, India and even the most remote of Scottish Islands are soon overrun by the black poisonous beasties, in a worldwide epidemic of devastating proportions.

But when the masses of spiders seem to suddenly die out, people mistakenly begin to think that the threat is over. Surely we can’t possibly be THAT lucky?

 

The Hatching is not for those unlucky enough to suffer from arachnophobia, or a squeamish disposition towards insects or any other creepy-crawly things.

Ezekiel Boone fills his novel with a large number of different characters, many of whom serve only to signify the global extent of the crisis rather than to play any real importance in the narrative, and as such it can be difficult to keep track of the wide variety of characters and locations.

While I understand the purpose behind it, I can’t help but feel that it may have been more beneficial to stick with a smaller number of characters scattered across a few major locations. While I enjoy seeing my home country, Scotland being mentioned in a novel, I don’t feel that the short snippets of dialogue bring much of any real importance to the novel, other than to convey the fear of isolation during such a terrifying event.

The Hatching is also another novel that leaves the reader very unfulfilled as the ending paves the way for its sequel, Skitter. However, at 4 out of 5 stars, it remains a highly recommended thrill ride through fear and the true night-time terror of all things that skitter around in the dark, as an ancient species reawakens.

 

Favourite Quotes:

“Own your mistakes and move on, or pack your shit and get out.” – A Henderson Tech company mantra. (p77)

 

‘He sneezed. He saw a fine spray of blood coat the wall. Snot dripped from his nose. It felt like something was skittering around in there, and when he wiped at it, he realised something was skittering out of his nose. He felt the hairy, hard leg and pulled it. Holy fucking shit. It was a spider. He just pulled a fucking spider out of his nose.’ – (p81)

 

‘Mike started to reach for his gun, but he quickly realised that shooting a spider might be overkill.’ – (p100)

 

“You think because you kill one spider in your bathroom that there aren’t others hiding somewhere else in your house?” – Melanie Guyer. (p266)

 

See Also:

The Hatching: Book 2 – Skitter

The Hatching: Book 3 – Zero Day

The Mansion

The Stupidest Angel – A Heart-Warming Tale of Christmas Terror (Book Review)

The first, of two, book reviews of this week is currently one of my favourite Christmas holiday themed novels to read at this time of the year, The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore.

Arriving home late one night, convinced he’s now on the naughty list just a few days before Christmas, little Josh Barker witnesses Santa being murdered with a shovel. Christmas in Pine Cove is well and truly ruined, so Josh decides to do the only sensible thing he can do, pray for a Christmas miracle.

Unfortunately the only person around to hear Josh’s plea is the inept Archangel Raziel, who’s been tasked with the mission of this year’s Christmas miracle by losing at cards to the Archangel Michael. He has one job, bring Santa back to life for little Josh Barker, what can possibly go wrong? Rather a lot as it turns out.

Meanwhile, in walks down on his luck DEA pilot Tucker Case who surreptitiously sweeps Lena Marquez off her feet by lending a hand with her unfortunate problem, but his pet fruit bat, Roberto lands him in hot water with the authorities.

The authorities being local cop and supposedly ex-stoner Theophilus Crowe, investigating the sudden disappearance of Dale Pearson, Lena Marquez’s ex-husband, last seen dressed as Santa for the annual Caribou Christmas Party. His quiet chat with Tucker ends in stalemate.

When the residents of Pine Cove meet in the Chapel for the Lonesome Christmas party on Christmas Eve chaos rears its ugly head in a hunger for juicy brains.

 

Favourite Quotes:

“That Volvo was chasing a pine tree.” – Tucker Case. (p41)

 

Theo: “How do you know the ceiling is thirty feet tall?”

Molly: “From our wedding pictures. I cut you out and used you to measure the whole building. It was just under five Theos tall.”

(p48)

 

“If you think anyone is sane you just don’t know enough about them.” – Tucker Case. (p117)

 

The Stupidest Angel is a cracking Christmas tale, at 5 out of 5 stars, surrounding a useless angel who grants a young boy his holiday wish, unleashing pandemonium on an unsuspecting coastal California town.

Christopher Moore’s sense of humour mimics my own sarcastic and somewhat sadistic tones, which may explain why I love him as a writer and why his books never disappoint. The Stupidest Angel is one of many novels that take place in the town of Pine Cove and include numerous characters that have appeared in previous tales, however he never leaves you feeling like you’re missing something important if you haven’t read the previous books, meaning it can be fully enjoyed on its own as a dark Christmas horror imbued with laugh out loud comedy and “holiday quaintage”.

However I am a little confused about the lasagne made with noodles for the Lonesome Christmas festivities? Are lasagne noodles an American thing?

Anyhoo, please head the author’s warning before choosing whether or not to purchase The Stupidest Angel as it sums the story up quite nicely:

“If you’re buying this book as a gift for your grandma or a kid, you should be aware that it contains cusswords as well as tasteful depictions of cannibalism and people in their forties having sex. Don’t blame me. I told you.” – Christopher Moore.