Review – ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Salem's LotSalem’s Lot was first published in October 1975 and was only Stephen King’s second published novel.  1975 – that is over 37 years.  Think about that for a second.

What astounds me is that the story still feels fresh even given the time that has passed since it was pusblished and the glut of vampire novels that have been written in the last 35 years.  And, yes, it will still scare the pants off of you.

From stephenking.com: “Author Ben Mears returns to ‘Salem’s Lot to write a book about a house that has haunted him since childhood only to find his isolated hometown infested with vampires. While the vampires claim more victims, Mears convinces a small group of believers to combat the undead.”

That’s a decent, quick synopsis.  But, it’s actually much more complicated than that.  Ben is a widower (lost his wife in a motorcycle accident that he survived several years earlier).  He meets Susan Norton and they promptly fall in love.  He also becomes friends with a high school English teacher, Matt Burke.  A young boy, Mark Petrie, plays a major role in the fight against the vampires and becomes an important part of Ben’s life.  Father Callahan, the local Catholic priest, is called upon as well.

I’m trying to determine exactly what I love so much about Salem’s Lot.  Yes, it’s scary and an exciting read.  However, what sticks with you long after you finish a book are the people.  In this case, I can see Ben, Susan, Matt, Mark and Father Callahan so clearly in my head.  Their fates are important to me.  The descriptions of small town life are pretty spot on and made it that much more enjoyable.  It is pretty amazing that King had this kind of talent so early in his career.  The writing isn’t quite as full and rich as some of his later novels.  But, it still packs a punch and leaves you with the feeling that you are glad it’s over (because, hey, it’s scary) but still wanting more.

5/5 stars.  A classic!

3 thoughts on “Review – ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

  1. This is one of my favorites! I love how Stephen King often makes the town a character itself (I think this is true in Salem’s Lot, Bag of Bones, Insomnia, IT, etc.).

    It mes me inordinately happy to see old Stephen King books talked about.

    • I completely agree. He finds a way to make the town itself as interesting as the characters. While I love most of more recent work, I want to make sure people don’t forget that he’s been writing this well for so long. Some of his older work is just amazing.

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