Customer Reviews: Salem's Lot
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on November 7, 2005
The Illustrated Edition of 'Salem's Lot is set up much like a 'Special Edition' DVD. The book boasts over 50 pages of 'deleted or alternative' scenes, a new introduction, and two previously published short stories ("One for the Road" and "Jerusalem's Lot"). The short stories don't have much to do with the characters or plot of the novel but certainly flesh out the 'special features' that the Illustrated Edition has to offer. If you've never read 'Night Shift' (or maybe even if you have, and it's been awhile), then they'll serve as an added treat.

If one is a fan of Stephen King, this is a must own. A somewhat already infamous passage (mentioned by King before) where one character is offed by a gang of rats in a basement is restored in all its deliciously gory glory. While we're on the topic, the bonus passages are NOT inserted into the text of the novel but offered in a later section. This is not a 'director's cut' of the book but set up like a DVD where one can flip to and peruse the deleted sections if one chooses to do so. It's the same novel as before, so if you're looking for something completely new a la Revised version of 'The Stand', this may not be what you're looking for. However, if you are interested into further delving into the world of 'Salem's Lot or interested in what King and/or his editors decided to take out from the original text, then you'll be in Stephen King heaven.

The photographs are stark, chilling, and beautiful... though sparse throughout the book. Basically, they seperate the sections and serve as covers.

As for the novel itself, it is both a compelling and entertaining read. As mentioned in the Amazon review, all the King staples are here (i.e. small town, secrets, and darkness pervading the ordinariness of life). I read this when I was probably way too young to have read it, and it scared me for weeks and turned me into a King junkie for life. If you're a King fan, horror fan, or just looking for a great read, you cannot go wrong with 'Salem's Lot.
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on July 11, 2011
Today's readers, first becoming introduced to Stephen King, are jaded. They have been spoiled by the explosion of more graphic and explicit entertainment of late. When I first read 'Salem's Lot as a young teen, I was horrified, terrified, petrified. It was (and still is) brilliant storytelling. I was scared, not by the graphic scenes (which were few) but by the *implications* and the unwritten horror, there between the lines.

I feel sorry for today's readers who seem to have little or no imagination left. For us old fogies, who discovered King in the dark, under the sheets and with a flashlight after Mom went to bed and knowing she'd take the book away *for good* if she found you reading it, 'Salem's Lot is a delicious masterpiece of terror.

This Kindle edition was a great treat. I downloaded it without reading much about the edition...what was there to "know?" It was 'Salem's Lot, the only King novel to give me NIGHTMARES. As I was reading, I remembered a short story about "The Lot" from one of King's other books, about a guy who left his wife and kid in a snowbank in the car...and I was straining to remember the name of the story or the book it was from....imagine my delight at the "end" of 'Salem's Lot to discover it wasn't THE END...there was MORE! The story I was trying to recall was "One for the Road" and there was another one I hadn't read before called "Jerusalem's Lot" and then there were the "deleted" or edited scenes from King's original plan for 'Salem's Lot....oh the joy! You hate to see a good book end, and so I was happy that 'Salem's Lot didn't end quite so soon. :)

For unimaginative readers who desire an author to spell out lot of blood and gore and graphic sex, 'Salem's Lot is not for you. For the rest of us, who love to curl their toes at the unspoken, who break out in goosebumps at the subtlety, who long to feel the emotions and terror of the characters....'Salem's Lot welcomes you.
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on September 2, 2004
Jerusalem's Lot is an unassuming small town in southern Maine. It is the kind of town where everybody knows everybody else and most of the residents have lived there all of their lives. In this atmosphere it was odd indeed when three strangers came to town at almost the same time. One of these strangers wasn't really a stranger at all. He had spent part of his childhood there and had returned in hopes of ridding himself of some old demons. The other two strangers also had an old connection with the town but it was a much darker and sinister connection.

Stephen King starts his macabre tale with these facts and then begins to weave a fascinating tail. He introduces the reader to the town in such a way that it makes one feel as if he had actually been to this fictional place. The reader will get to know many of the residents, some all too well. Some are likable, some are loathsome, and some are described so well that the reader will actually mourn their passing. One can easily feel Ben Mears' pain when he finds out that someone that he is very close to is gone.

As the dark cloud of vampirism spreads across the town there are a few residents who figure out what is going on. Some refuse to believe what logic and their senses tell them and they fall victim to the curse while others figure things out in time to flee. A few try to stop the spread of this evil and pay dearly. For those who have not seen one of the movies based on this book, this is all of the story that I am going to give away. For those who have seen the movies, neither movie follows the book too closely and the book is far superior to either film.

King's flair for this type of story is well known and I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with this book. It will entertain you, it will scare you, and it will delight you. While reading parts of this book I was able to feel the sense of dread that many people in the Lot were feeling. King is indeed a master when it comes to bringing gloom and doom off of his pages and into the hearts of his readers.

There are a few places where it is a little hard to follow just who is saying what in some of the conversations but beyond that I could find few flaws. I found it very interesting that the reader would not be able to figure out what was happening to the town until about the same time some of the characters do. Of course, that was when this book first came out. I dare say that few people who start this book now, nearly thirty years after it was written will be surprised by the basics of the story. The creepy factor must have been much greater before the plot was given away by the movies, but rest assured, there are still plenty of creeps between the covers of this book.
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Stephen King has always been regarded as more of a pop fiction writer than a literary author--but in 1975 he turned out a book which, although overshadowed by the massive success of his later work, will stand the test: 'SALEM'S LOT. Simple yet multi-layered, elegant yet grotesque, this is the book that shows what King can really do when he sets his mind to it.
The story opens with Ben Mears, an author who has come to his childhood home of 'Salem's Lot with the idea of writing a novel about the small town's "haunted house" of note. As he observes the town, he also becomes a part of it, meeting a young woman who might be more than a passing interest, making new friends and renewing old acquaintances. But there is something--indefinable. Something that is slowly going wrong in the town. And it is connected with the "haunted house" of his childhood memories.
King is clearly drawing from several sources for inspiration, most particularly Bram Stoker's DRACULA and Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, as well as from traditional vampire lore. But what he does with this story of a vampire infestation in a quiet New England town is completely original, peeling back the lives of the townfolk in layers and then showing their gradual corruption as the plague spreads.
'SALEM'S LOT is more subtle than most King novels. It builds with a deliberate slowness and gradually develops a sense of paranoia--that suddenly explodes into a classic horror that keeps you reading through the night with every light in the house turned on. And King's style here is extraordinary: everything about the book is very precise with not a word out of place, the plot at once fantastic and disturbingly logical. There are several Stephen King novels on my bookshelf, and I enjoy them... but this is the one to which I most often return. If you've never read it, prepare yourself for Stephen King at his best. If you have read it, it's time to read it again.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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on June 6, 2009
Salem's Lot was the very first Stephen King book I ever read. I was 13 years old and already had an overactive imagination before this book walked right in to that imagination, smacked it around and demanded recognition and respect.

For many weeks after reading this book, I was petrified to look out my bedroom window at night lest I see a vampire hovering there, asking to be let in. To this day, I cannot watch that particular scene in the movie adaptation.

I love a good thriller; a book that will scare the ever loving garbage out of me and this is THE book that did it. This book had such an impact on my 13 year old mind that I have been too scared to pick it up and read it again in over 20 years. However, now that I have a Kindle on the way, I'm adding it to my soon to be built up electronic SK library. And I will read it again.

This time I'm leaving all the lights on.
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on October 24, 1999
This is King's best book. I read it fifteen years ago, when I was the last student still living in my gothic dormitory at Yale. It scared the hell out of me. Too bad, but by now, almost everyone knows that 'Salem's Lot is a vampire novel. I consider that a spoiler. What was so frightening for me the first time through was not quite knowing what was wrong with this town. Much is made of the old vacant Marsten house, and I thought I was reading a haunted house story. It's not until well into the book that King makes any overt reference to vampires, and when he finally does, it is with a sense of both discovery and inevitability that the reader learns the true nature of what is afflicting the town. Why, of course it's vampires. What else could it be but but vampires?
As for the book being a ripoff of Dracula--well, yes. In the same sense that the movies Blade or The Hunger rip off Dracula, or that the novel Mary Reilly is a ripoff of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They are retellings. The Dracula thing isn't much more than an imaginative launching point. As someone who's actually read Stoker's Dracula, I think it's an important Gothic novel and preFreudian allegory -- but not all that scary. Not nearly as frightening as 'Salem's Lot.
King is at the top of his game here, and he portrays people who make sense, who belong in this story, and whose character is their destiny.
For all his prolific output, I wish King would do a sequel. This remains his most elegant, most successful, taut and transporting novel.
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I don't think many people would argue the fact that 'Salem's Lot is the best novel produced in King's "early period." In some ways, it was a gutsy novel for King to write. For one thing, his editor warned him about becoming viewed as a "horror writer" (as opposed to a "real writer"). All great writers write what they have to write and don't care how it is viewed, so this book really made a statement that this young author loved to write and was going to do it his own way. For another thing, it is a great challenge to write a vampire novel that does not just sift through the ashes of millions of pages already consumed by the public. I wish I could read this book today without knowing so much about it (having first read it many years ago, having seen the miniseries, and having heard and read so much about it since then)--I wonder at what point the wide-eyed reader actually understands that vampirism is responsible for the Evil overtaking Jerusalem's Lot.
Literally hundreds of readers have already reviewed this book, so I am sure anything I say is just a rehash of what has already been said. I will mention the fact that this novel is quite different from Carrie, its immediate predecessor. Where the events of that book were somewhat disjointed, this story unfolds quite smoothly. The characters in this book are much more "real" than those in Carrie. Rather than jumping from one viewpoint to another, King's prose now allows itself to take root and grow, yielding a bumper crop of complex, realistic, knowable characters. While I felt as if I were watching the events taking place in Carrie, I felt much more like a character myself in 'Salem's Lot. If anyone out there has yet to read Stephen King, I would recommend reading this novel as your introduction to his work. The blood and gore is there, as it should be, but most of the horror is below the surface, always present and ready to spring out whenever King's imagination bids it to do so. It is a wonderful reading experience. I can picture Stephen King saying to his readers the exact same thing that the vampire says to Father Callahan: "Taste my communion." Millions of us have tasted it, and we have been held under the sway of our master ever since.
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on July 31, 2000
This is classic Stephen King, written long before he was a brand name, when he was still writing to mostly entertain himself. And doing that, he entertains the reader. "Salem's Lot" begins mysteriously but soon becomes a straightforward chiller, with plenty of comfortable characters, believable suspense, tragedy, and awesome horror.

The main characters--Ben Mears, Sue Norton, Mark Petrie, Matt Burke--are very well-drawn. Other townspeople, like the Glick family, Parkins Gillespie, the town constable, the tippling Father Flanagan, and seedy real estate agent Larry Crockett--are also drawn with simple skill and strength, making them as known to us as our own neighbors. We enjoy reading about their everyday pursuits--and are thus horrified by the horrible deaths they will come to.

Here, as in many of King's later works, are a many great insights into childhood--and adult--fears, whether rational or not. King can write about adultery and its repurcussions as well as bloodthirsty vampires, and make them both fascinating and convincing. He understands the writer's mind, the lives of the working class, and the pace of small-town life. Some of the best writing here is in the chapters entitled "The Lot," in which he explores both the secret lives of many of the characters as well as the town itself... secrets that will eventually materialize into the forms of Straker and Barlow... and the innocent will suffer along with the guilty.

This book is one of the few that made me feel a physical fear, a dread the crept over me as I read. The writing is plain and this contributes to the general sense of mounting fear and unease. Perfect example: "And all around them, the bestiality of the night arises on tenebrous wings. The vampire's time has come." Nice. Even this early in his published career, King really knows what he's doing.

I can't imagine any horror or Stephen King fan that *hasn't* read this book, but if you haven't, read it now, for it is a milestone in horror/vampire fiction.
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on November 24, 2001
Stephen King's second book... starring the small Maine town of Jerusalem's Lot and the pervasive evil that comes to inhabit it. The town knows horror, of course. Years before, a man named Hubie Marsten (prisoner to psychosexual disorders he can't control) committed a murder, and now his house stands empty, seeming to watch over the town. The Marsten House becomes the symbol of evil, a central place from which terror and death resonate.
Introduced to the town are three strangers: Ben Mears, a writer who lived there as a child, Mark Petrie, a kid obsessed with monsters and horror movies, and Mr. Barlow, a mysterious figure who opens up a shop in town (a precursor to Leland Gaunt in Needful Things?). Though Barlow doesn't make an appearance in the novel until more than halfway through, his assistant, Mr. Straker, takes care of his business while Barlow takes care of the town's business.
Following the arrival of these strangers, a young boy is found dead. The scene at the funeral in which the boy's father throws himself at the coffin screaming for his son to wake up is perhaps King's most gut-wrenching. Then, when darkness falls on the town, the boy emerges from his coffin and his father's wish becomes prophecy - though not the way he would have wished.
Death invades the town. Worse than death, Salem's Lot is gripped by the ravages of the undead. By the time Ben Mears, Mark Petrie and their friends discover the truth, the town is almost beyond hope. Their only chance is to destroy Barlow, burn the town, and escape.
The novel begins and ends with Ben and Mark leaving to once again visit the Lot, as they have discovered the vampire threat hasn't vanished. Salem's Lot ends with a cliffhanger that will probably never be balanced. What we have, though, is one of King's most intense and scary books. After the steady buildup, the moments of terror come in one-two knockout style, and King's mastery of vampire myths and legends is first class, especially the way he infuses them into modern-day society. The fact that the major villain stays behind the scenes for the first half of the novel only adds to the excitement and anxiety.
Salem's Lot is not just a vampire novel. It is a novel of pure and unbridled fear, a truly scary book. It is about small towns and the nature of evil. It is about love found, love lost, and the persistance of hope. And, well, it has those vampires...
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on September 6, 2001
In my opinion Salem's Lot definitely is the second best modern vampire story ever told. Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend" is the best.
This is a typical Stephen King book: quiet small town, mysterious stranger arrives and settles in the Marsten House (which has already a history of its own), vampires start to knock on your windows. The story is fast-paced, with well-written characters, and interesting twists and turns that make the hair at the base of your neck stand up.
And even if you have already read it, it's certainley a book you can reread without losing the original thrilling atmosphere you experienced when diving into the story for the first time.
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