'Salem's Lot: Illustrated Edition Hardcover – Nov 1 2005
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Stephen King's second book, 'Salem's Lot (1975)--about the slow takeover of an insular hamlet called Jerusalem's Lot by a vampire patterned after Bram Stoker's Dracula--has two elements that he also uses to good effect in later novels: a small American town, usually in Maine, where people are disconnected from each other, quietly nursing their potential for evil; and a mixed bag of rational, goodhearted people, including a writer, who band together to fight that evil.
Simply taken as a contemporary vampire novel, 'Salem's Lot is great fun to read, and has been very influential in the horror genre. But it's also a sly piece of social commentary. As King said in 1983, "In 'Salem's Lot, the thing that really scared me was not vampires, but the town in the daytime, the town that was empty, knowing that there were things in closets, that there were people tucked under beds, under the concrete pilings of all those trailers. And all the time I was writing that, the Watergate hearings were pouring out of the TV.... Howard Baker kept asking, 'What I want to know is, what did you know and when did you know it?' That line haunts me, it stays in my mind.... During that time I was thinking about secrets, things that have been hidden and were being dragged out into the light." Sounds quite a bit like the idea behind his 1998 novel of a Maine hamlet haunted by unsightly secrets, Bag of Bones. --Fiona Webster --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Spine-tingling fiction at its best." --Grand Rapids Press
"A master storyteller." --The Los Angeles Times
"An unabashed chiller." --Austin American Statesman
“[The] most wonderfully gruesome man on the planet.” —USA Today
“A super exorcism...tremendous.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A novel of chilling, unspeakable evil.” —Chattanooga Times
“[King is] . . . the guy who probably knows more about scary goings-on in confined, isolated places than anybody since Edgar Allan Poe.” —Entertainment Weekly
“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) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Stephen King's stab at the vampire story hearkens back to these classics. His vampires generate disgust in those who see them; they look ill, and they smell bad. This is definitely not a book for those who think vampires are sexy.
That said, "'Salem's Lot" is a justifiable classic in the field of vampire literature. King is not apologetic or even romantic regarding the vampires, but rather treats them in the classic Stoker tradition, as foul monsters. However it is not his treatment of the vampires themselves that makes this a good book.
What makes King's book stand out is his talent for portraying ordinary people in extraordinary situations. The town of Jerusalem's Lot is full of the petty little conflicts and foibles that most small towns have, and King explores tham very well. The vampires find all of these weaknesses and exploit them to tear the town apart. The inevitable conclusion of the book is disturbing, not because of what it says about vampires, but because of what it says about how easily people are corrupted.
Also of note: this book marks the original appearance of Father Callahan, who has taken on a prominent role in the recent volumes of King's Dark Tower series.
This book has been adapted to the small screen twice (one of them very recently), but both attempts pretty much missed the mark. Though both adaptations have their good points, the book has more depth and more meaning than either TV-movie version managed to capture.
This is a great vampire novel (though not for the vampire apologist), and one of King's best books.
Having read many books in the "vampire genre" which really emerged after Salem's Lot, I liked getting back to genuine creepy, disgusting, horrifying vampires instead of sexy and fashionable. The best vampire novel is still Bram Stoker's original, and this is probably the second best.
Its biggest strength is also its biggest weakness: there's just too many characters. King focuses on many characters in the small town of 'Salem's Lot, but that means that some of the characters only get one or two chapters devoted to them. The characters that do get the spotlight are just less interesting than the rest (well, save for a few) and I feel the book is at its best when it focuses on the more "scummy" characters of the book.
There is a heavy similarity to "Dracula" in more one ways than one: namely, how closely the main characters parallel ones from Stoker's masterpiece, and how the vampires spread their infection and their weaknesses.
Overall, it is worth a read, but remember it is King when he was still learning how to write effectively, so it is rife with errors. But, it still makes its mark as a good piece of horror fiction (many scary parts, and ones that made me shudder just a bit) and as a vampire novel.
I'm an extremely fast reader, and recently devoured this novel while I was on vacation. Had I not known it was King's second novel (that actually meant something, that is) I probably would've been harsher on it.
You can definitely tell that King has grown as a writer from this point, but it is still a really engaging, thrilling novel. It develops at a far slower pace than most of King's novels, taking a hell of a lot of time to develop the setting, storyline, etc. It's funny, to see King go against some of the things he did in Salem's Lot in On Writing.
However, I mean none of this to bash Mr. King's work - this is still a modern classic, and should be respected as such. The characters are complex and original, the storyline (for the time period) is 100% remarkable, and it leaves you breathless when it's all said and done.
No matter what criticisms I may have had, this is a must-read novel for anyone either well-versed in King, or a new Kingphile alike.
Most recent customer reviews
Scared me so much as a teenager with a vivid I started wearing a cross!Published 2 months ago by Wendy Bruens
I can not afford the secondary market prices on an original print-run of the Centipede Press edition of Salem's Lot. Read morePublished 7 months ago by r_duke
Put this book off for years. I wasn't disappointed when I finally read it.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Not as fantastic as some would say, but a decent read.
That;s the inherent issue with "classics". Read more
Loved it !! Haven't read it for years ...wasn't disappointed! !Published 12 months ago by Rockin ' Connie .
THE BOOK IS VERY SMALL, WHEN YOU OPEN TO READ IT IN THE MIDDLE..THE BOOK BREAKSPublished 13 months ago by Joanne Mackenzie