Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
'Salem's Lot Mass Market Paperback – December 27, 2011
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
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 the Audio CD edition.
*Starred Review* Before vampires became sympathetic characters with their own alternate worlds, complete with vampire coffee shops and vampire politics, they used to be bad guys, scary not sexy, and they preferred wreaking havoc in horror novels rather than exuding tortured sensitivity in YA coming-of-age fiction. Fortunately, we don’t need to go all the way back to Dracula and Boris Karloff to remember those halcyon days: we have Stephen King’s ’Salem’s Lot, from 1975. Oddly, it’s not the vampires that make ’Salem’s Lot great popular fiction. Mr. Barlow, our lead vampire, is no Dracula. He doesn’t even appear until the story is nearly half over, and he is perhaps the most one-dimensional figure in the book (but that single dimension is enough: unadulterated evil). The real main character isn’t a person at all, human or vampire: it’s the seemingly idyllic New England town of Jerusalem’s Lot. King once said that in ’Salem’s Lot, he set out to create “a fictional town with enough prosaic reality about it to offset the comic-book menace of a bunch of vampires.” He did just that by drawing on our universal fear of outsiders, and nowhere is that fear more recognizable than in our traditional image of the New England small town, where insularity itself becomes a defense against incursion by strangers. The stereotypical Yankee, befuddling outsiders with a series of cryptic yups and nopes, may be a comic character from folklore, but he is also a soldier defending his Maginot Line against potential blitzkrieg. And behind the crotchety Yankee’s seeming impregnability, there is the constant fear that one day a stranger will come to town who won’t take nope for an answer. That juxtaposition of prosaic reality against outlandish terror has always been central to King’s technique for scaring his readers. In ’Salem’s Lot, he does it by looking beneath the surface of idyllic New England. We see the pastoral beauty, the close-knit community, and the unpretentious lifestyle, yet from the beginning, we also see the harbinger of something else, something other. The novel begins with a stranger, not Barlow but a writer, Ben Mears, returning to the Lot, where he’d lived briefly as a boy. Mears has come home again not to reclaim his innocence but to expunge his demons—the memory of the body of a man dead for decades, still hanging in the closet of the Marsten House. Mears believes he hallucinated this horrible scene, but he wants to explore why it happened, why this house prompted him to imagine evil. What Mears finds when he returns to the Lot is that the Marsten House is now occupied by another stranger, our Mr. Barlow. As the known gives way to the unknown, King shows how the small-town insistence on maintaining the illusion of tranquility makes easy pickings for a vampire intent on fomenting a little evil. If ’Salem’s Lot were just another old-fashioned vampire novel, it would portray a straightforward struggle between good (people) and bad (vampires). It would not portray the arrival of vampires in the Lot as a kind of supernatural manifestation of the town’s distorted sense of itself. King feels both affection for and anger toward his small town. A part of him wants to see ’Salem’s Lot get its comeuppance, and this part gives the novel a degree of frisson that most vampire stories lack. And yet, in the end, the vampires don’t win, at least not exactly. Yes, Ben Mears pounds a stake in Barlow’s heart, but that isn’t enough. The evil continues to thrive. The town needs its own stake. Writers of every kind—from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Grace Metalious to John Updike to Carolyn Chute—have wrestled with their mixed feelings about the small towns of New England. But it took Stephen King to burn one down. --Bill Ott
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
With Twilight, Vampire Diaries, and all these romantic, obnoxious, poorly acted vampire movies and shows out, I couldn't imagine that a book about vampires could possibly be anything but lame.
Holy moly was I wrong. Absolutely terrifying. It goes from "fun spooky" to "swear out loud terrifying" about midway through.
If you love King, this is right up your alley. Obviously a classic book. Made me afraid to look out the window at night. NEVER thought I'd find vampires scary.
The story begins with a prologue about “the man” and “the boy” (it isn’t that hard to figure out who they are, but I played along) hiding out in a border town, then moves into Chapter One and Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine, where Benjamin Mears comes home to a small town and to perhaps face up to an old monster. He meets up with Susan Norton, sparks up a romance, and we are slowly introduced to the rest of the town as something sinister creeps its way into the tale. Up until the point Mike Ryerson’s dog is found hanging on a cemetery fence and terror strikes two young brothers in the woods, it’s like a piece of small-town Americana where everybody knows everybody, and the sidewalks roll up after dark.
I love a story where the supernatural or the ‘terror element’ seeps in sloowwwwlyyy. It’s like a novice swimmer who’s partially afraid of the deep water and at the same time enjoys the thrill. You tiptoe in from the banks, go a little at a time, and before you realize it, you’re to the point where you either sink or swim. To me, that’s what makes a good horror story. Don’t give away all the cookies out the gate. Dangle a few here or there and give them away as the reader goes. Kind of a thank-you for sticking with it. Take someone along on the little ride and slowly immerse them into the deep dark lagoon before they’re too wise to figure out it’s swim time.
I felt the only weak points of the story came in the second half where Matt Burke is laid up in a hospital bed consulting texts and fiction (carted in from the local library) to help Ben, Mark Petrie, and Father Callahan battle the evil at the Marsten House. At times, it felt like a more adult version of Scooby Doo, but the rest of the novel is so strong and powerful, I was hooked and couldn’t not play along.
The other thing I wanted but didn’t (quite) get was a more brutal comeuppance for baby-beating teen mom Sandy McDougall. Outside of my gripes in these last two paragraphs, it’s early Stephen King at his finest.
Again, this is only King’s second published novel, and even though he was more than established by 1975 (the year this was written), fans of his latter works will note he was just a smidge less refined here than what he’s gone on to in a prolific career.
Anyone who’s a fan of the 1979 TV miniseries and hasn’t read the book MUST read the book. You’ll probably like the movie just a little less when you realize how watered down it is compared to the novel.
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.