Synopsis: Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem's Lot in hopes that exploring the history of the Marsten House, an old mansion long the subject of rumor and speculation, will help him cast out his personal devils and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods, and only one returns alive, Mears begins to realize something sinister at work - in fact, his hometown is under siege from the forces of darkness. And only he, with a small group of allies, can hope to contain the evil that is growing within the borders of this small New England town.
Date Published: October 17, 1975
Published By: Doubleday
Number of Pages: 653
Ah, yes. Stephen King's classic vampire novel. Seeing as how vampires in pop culture have evolved so drastically in the 40 years since this book was released, can readers today still enjoy vampires that bite instead of sparkle?
I can't speak for everyone, but this reader sure did.
I have read this novel before but I decided to revisit it because I seem to have a vampire theme going this month. (I also read Christopher Moore's vampire comedy series.) It was nice to read about vampires that were scary and disturbing as Bram Stoker originally intended. (Confession: I have not yet read Dracula. It's on my TBR list.)
I can best sum up Stephen King's story about vampires by saying that it's basically your typical All-American novel where it focuses on a small town and the people in that town. And then, he adds vampires into the mix. And that's why it's so brilliant.
King really takes his time describing the daily lives of the resident's in Salem's Lot in the first half of the novel. You get to know the main character, his love interest, her parents, the milkman, the town drunk, the school bully, the real estate agent, even the guy who works at the town dump. And quite a few other characters besides. Sometimes, it's a little hard to keep them all straight but I think, for the most part this technique works. People might complain that the book is too slow in the beginning but I think that's actually what makes it work so well. You get invested in Salem's Lot, it becomes so real that when vampires show up it doesn't feel forced or like an impossible plot twist. It feels like the most natural thing in the world.
And that is what makes this book so terrifying. King creates such an atmosphere of slowly-building terror that your dread increases with each page until about mid-way through when all hell breaks lose (literally.) By then, you're entranced and it is impossible to look away. You just sit and read in horror as evil descends on Salem's Lot.