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'Salem's Lot Hardcover – April 1, 1990
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'Salem's Lot is a small New England town with white clapboard houses, tree-lined streets, and solid church steeples. That summer in 'salem's Lot was a summer of homecoming and return; spring burned out and the land lying dry, crackling underfoot. Late that summer, Ben Mears returned to 'salem's Lot hoping to cast out his own devils and found instead a new, unspeakable horror.
A stranger had also come to the Lot, a stranger with a secret as old as evil, a secret that would wreak irreparable harm on those he touched and in turn on those they loved.
All would be changed forever: Susan, whose love for Ben could not protect her; Father Callahan, the bad priest who put his eroded faith to one last test; and Mark, a young boy who sees his fantasy world become reality and ironically proves the best equipped to handle the relentless nightmare of 'Salem's Lot.
This is a rare novel, almost hypnotic in its unyielding suspense, which builds to a climax of classic terror. You will not forget the town of 'salem's Lot nor any of the people who used to live here.
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“Stephen King has built a literary genre of putting ordinary people in the most terrifying situations. . . . He’s the author who can always make the improbable so scary you'll feel compelled to check the locks on the front door.” —The Boston Globe
“Peerless imagination.” —The Observer (London)
“An unabashed chiller.” —Austin American Statesman
“[The] most wonderfully gruesome man on the planet.” —USA Today
“[King is] the guy who probably knows more about scary goings-on in confined, isolated places than anybody since Edgar Allan Poe.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Spine-tingling fiction at its best." —Grand Rapids Press
“A super exorcism. . . . Tremendous.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A novel of chilling, unspeakable evil.” —Chattanooga Times
About the Author
- Publisher : Doubleday; Reissue edition (April 1, 1990)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0385007515
- ISBN-13 : 978-0385007511
- Lexile measure : 860L
- Item Weight : 1.7 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.57 x 1.45 x 9.56 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #72,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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1. Its not what you might expect. Yes, its about vampires visiting a small town and good vs Evil (capital "E"), but Salems lot is a soap opra, with vivid characters only King can create and vignettes of life in a small town that will make you feel nostalgic and disgusted at the same time. They beat their children, cheat on their husbands, drink and bully. Yet its hard to pin them on a good vs bad board, there are shades of grey with everyone you meet. This town is Anytown USA, more a charcter than a setting and you realize the evil man can do is more destructive to society than a thousand year old vampire.
2. It is King at his finest - the writing, the transitions and use of the third person narrative makes the story come alive - its a slow build I admit but by the time the bodies start dropping King makes you care in a way most horror novels dont bother to. You feel for the Glicks, you root for the alcoholic priest trying to reclaim enough faith to battle the dark one and you are happy for Dud in his new life. King will do this again in the Stand and in It, but once you read SL you realize hes sampling from his earlier works and no other book will make you laugh cry and turn on the lights like this one will. The genuis of starting the book with the tall man and boy in Mexico is you kind of know whats going to happen (much like a Columbo episode where you see the murder up front), but it raises so many questions you simply have to hang on.
3. Its the best kind of horror story - it follows the rules and tells classic tale. Straker and Barlow may be the villans but they arent blood thirsty monsters either - they are true to their nature. A vampire kils and a watchdog protects. In one seen where Straker does something awful, King takes the time to tell us about the look on his face which enlightens the reader about his motivation. They follow all the vampire rules - sunlight and crosses and of course the need for an invitation (in fact they were invited to the town by Marsten). They arent invincible foes but they are formidable ones. And its the townspeople that drive the action and turn SL into an apocalypse.
This is a rich story full of great themes about society, the power of faith, men vs boys (my favorite chapter is the inner monologue Mark Petrie has after a close call where he muses about how adult fears are nothing compared to what a child dels with under the bed at night) and even love and salvation. Read it and decide for yourself if this is a horror novel or a novel about the horrorz of man.
Stephen King is not the only guilty party when it comes to altering released versions of his art - many recording artists from the Sixties apparently arrived at a point in their career where they felt they could improve upon the originally-released version of their work. What they fail to consider in doing so is the fact that those original releases have become a part of their audience's subconscious to which changes are most unwelcome, especially if the 'new and improved' version becomes all that is available.
One of my favorite books of all time is Stephen King's The Stand, and while I would have found his unedited version interesting from a writer's perspective, I vastly prefer the original edited version as a reader. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be available any longer. Same goes for Salem's Lot in Kindle form. If it's the original horror you seek, hit the used book stores, and I wish you luck!
Top reviews from other countries
At the time of writing (Oct 2019), I’m forty-seven.
Remember that number, OK?
Right, the book: ‘Salem’s Lot.
In no particular order.
It started slowly. Very slowly. It crawled. But, round about 15%
(Yes, I read on a Kindle so talk about % now rather than page numbers…)
of the way in, I realised that the crawling plot had, in fact, been tying loose knots around my imagination. And when the first few people disappeared, those knots started tightening. That didn’t stop until the end of the novel. And that’s the thing – no one and nothing is sacred in this story. From the initial, chilling sacrifice to the Lord of Flies to the final show down. People drop like, well, flies, I guess. They are there and then they’re gone.
The problem is, most of these people come back. After dark. And these are not nice vampires. They don’t sparkle. They don’t come armed with comedy accents and cliches and dress in cloaks. They are unpleasant and, in some cases, tragic. But the nastiness doesn’t stop there. There’s a house – The Marsten House. Its cellar is almost as scary as some of the monsters. As the author says in the foreword: ‘it’s one of the scary ones.’
But, outside of Barlow and his vampires, and the Marsten House and its cellar, and the superb depictions of some very messed up people there were a few things that jarred.
1 – the vast number of peripheral characters was hard to follow. We’re talking about a town’s worth. Many appear and disappear then reappear and I wasn’t always sure who was who. Are you the useless cop? The horny (pervy) dump manager? The wifebeater. And so on…
2 – the ending was over too quickly. The set up to the final moments were chillingly good, but the final resolution? Over too soon. Maybe it’s better that way rather than turning the last pages into a B-movie gore schlock fest?
3 – where are the rats? They exist in the deleted scenes at the end of the book but were culled from the finished version. I’d have preferred they were kept as some of those scenes are terrifying.
All in all, though, this is another one of those books where I found myself wondering why I had never read it before.
So. Back to my age. You remember how old I am, right? Go check it you’ve forgotten. I’ll wait.
I read the bulk of this book whilst staying in a largish flat in London. I was on my own. Reading late in the evening. Suffering from insomnia. One night – I think it was near the end of the book when things had really gone belly up for the inhabitants of the Lot – I couldn’t sleep. Not because of my insomnia, but because a doubt had crept up on me, rat-like, whiskers tickling the toes of my imagination. Who, or what, was in the other rooms in the flat? I was there on my own, right? Of course I was. Just me. No one else. Not a soul. Only little old me…
A forty-seven year old man got out of bed to check there were no monsters in the closet, under the bed, in the other rooms or hiding on the landing.
Are you laughing at me?
You should be…
Now go read the book. It’s scarily good.
Stephen King needs no introduction and this book highlights why he is one of the best-selling writers alive. His books read like a movie, you can imagine and picture every detail and visualise the story in your head - yes almost everyone does this with any fiction book they read but with King there is a level of visualisation and detail that is rarely found - he is a true storyteller.
The book itself is about a writer who returns to Salem's Lot after many years to write a book. He learns on arrival that the creepy, empty house he was hoping to rent (this house has a strong connection to an episode during the writer's childhood), has already been let to two mysterious men. What pursues is a story of residents that suddenly go missing, people seemingly coming back from the dead and what seems to be a town silently becoming overrun by a growing group of vampires and a plan by remaining residents to stop them.
One of the highlights of the book is the short story 'One For The Road' at the end. This short story was even more creepy than Salem's Lot and a fantastic end to the read. I had read Dracula before this and must confess that I found it slightly disappointing. Whilst the book has a very eerie vibe, the characters are not particularly likeable and the narrative can get bland at times. Salem's Lot is of course completely different to Dracula but if you are looking for a great horror/vampire book then you must purchase this!
It's hardly a spoiler to write that this is a vampire novel. The point is that it's more than that.
A sleepy New England town is subject to an attack, a virus. The question is who can see this and try and resist? In the end it is rather tortured writer and a young boy, who knows fear but has read enough stories to conquer that fear. This village of the damned plays out as a gradual death of a functioning American community. The New England setting suggests that the virus is both old and new.
The difficulty faced by the intrepid band of vampire hunters becomes clear only gradually. The rate at which the evil spreads is beyond their joint efforts to eradicate it. And so the novel reaches the only conclusion possible, fixated on place and terror. The whole town is cursed and even the purification wrought by the protagonists cannot remove the horror permanently.
So? If you haven't read this Stephen King classic, read it now - you're in for a treat. For those who read it years ago and have lost touch; there are two connected short stories which complement the book.
Yes, it's scary. But so is real life. Read and digest. Understand how one plague can destroy a community.