‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

From Goodreads: “‘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 home-coming 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.”

‘Salem’s Lot is the second novel Stephen King wrote and, in my opinion only of course, considerably better than his first. I am rather ambivalent about Carrie; I neither liked nor disliked it. I am glad it wasn’t my first Stephen King novel, as my unadulterated love for all things Stephen King might not have been born. Like Pet Sematary, I put ‘Salem’s Lot in the “classic King” category. It’s a solid, scary vampire novel (as vampire novels should be).

Jerusalem’s Lot, vernacularly known as ‘Salem’s Lot, is the quintessentially pastoral Maine town – on the surface. Scratch that surface and you get the usual lies, corruption, prejudice, and bullying. Scratch a little harder and you’ll discover ‘Salem’s Lot hides abuse, violence, and now, something deeply menacing*. One of my favorite aspects of this novel, like many of King’s novel (particularly Bag of Bones, IT, and Under the Dome), is that the town of ‘Salem’s Lot functions as a character as well as place. The collective psyche of the town’s inhabitants is as sordid as any big city, perhaps more so, thus leaving the town vulnerable and oblivious to the current and new residents. This is ultimately their undoing.

At its core, ‘Salem’s Lot is simply a well-paced, well-plotted novel. The book’s ability to make a simple invitation or an errant scratching noise deeply menacing are what make it terrifying (and what better month to read such a novel than October). Moreover, some of the most disturbing scenes have nothing to do with the vampires and are entirely due to the horrifying proclivities of some of the town’s residents. This is not a novel for the faint of heart. It deals with many of humanities darker issues, the ability of an entire town to look the other way, the triumph of evil and the loss of an entire town. Bottom line: 5/5, I’d highly recommend it.

*On a separate note, I immensely enjoyed the evil nature of vampires in the novel. Originally published in 1975, neither the author nor novel could have predicted the state of vampire literature today. The average vampire novel today is more likely to romanticize and sexualize the bloodthirsty (vegetarian) undead than to make them menacing. In general, I prefer my vampires to be supremely evil (as long as they’re fictional).

Disturbing literature deserves comfort food: Macaroni and Farmhouse Cheddar and Bacon. Feel free to omit the bacon.

Photos: Williams Sonoma

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  • Kelly

    I’m hoping to finish this one before Halloween. Glad you loved it! One of the few very well-known King novels I haven’t read yet.

    • Rory O’Connor

      It is definitely a great October read. Enjoy!

  • ifnotread

    I’m a wimp. There’s no way I could read this kind of book – I wouldn’t sleep for days!! Love the foodie contribution. There’s nothing like comfort food. A great post.

    • Rory O’Connor

      I cannot watch horror movies, I am terrified and can’t sleep at night. Why I can read horror? I have no idea…

  • Rachel

    I loved this book too. It was good old-fashioned creepy. 🙂

  • lynnsbooks

    You’re right about this being the right time of year to read this. I read this quite a while ago – it’s brilliant and creepy as is the film! bbbrrrr…
    Lynn 😀

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  • Americas Studies

    I have to get my hands on this one! I have heard nothing but positive things about it! Thanks for your great review!

    • Rory O’Connor

      If you read it, let me know what you think! It’s one of my favorite vampire novels!

      • Americas Studies

        Will do! Going to read your Desperation review later. Hope you can take a look at my reviews posted on the Stephen King project page. 🙂

  • ice

    Thank you for sharing. I like novel of stephen king.

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  • Nish

    I’m currently reading this one, and I had to come over to your blog and see what you had to say.

    I’m glad it is generally considered scary. I wondered if I was losing my nerve!

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