Tuesday, December 9, 2008

'Salem's Lot

I have finally finished ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King.

Several years ago I attempted to read another work of King’s and I couldn’t get into it, so I never tried to read another book by him until now. I really had no desire to read the ‘Salem’s Lot but I figured I should give it a try because I have not read in months and I had nothing else to read.

SL is about a town of people who experience evil by way of a cursed house and a savage vampire. The story focuses mostly on Ben Mears – a writer going back to the town he spent his childhood at, to write about the old house that watches over the town. This old house has been abandoned ever since a man killed his wife and hung himself. Ben and the other residents, however, are caught off guard when an odd man comes to town to open an antique shop. Of course, it only goes downhill from there.

SL starts out by mysteriously describing a man and a boy in present time that use to live in Jerusalem’s Lot (‘Salem’s Lot). You aren’t quite sure what has happened, but you know that the town has been deserted and they seem to be on the run from something. The book then changes to several years past when the town was still alive and nothing bad had happened. The end of the book takes you all the way back to the beginning of the town’s founding.

The vampires in this book are not sympathetic; they aren’t sexy and mysterious and they don’t become adoring lovers. The vampires in ‘Salem’s Lot are evil. As you read, you also find out that maybe there is more evil in the town then just the vampires.

Overall I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the writing and the suspense, even though it took me forever to read. The characters are diverse but similar in the way all small town residents are similar. Ben Mears, Callahan the Catholic priest, a young brave boy, and an old teacher make a great team and offer insight into the evil of the world.

The book ends with letters from the beginning so you don’t quite feel it is the end. I didn’t feel mad, sad, or happy with the ending because it didn’t seem like it had ended. I was left with more understanding, which left me content.


Steve said...

I read a lot of King and I've read that one twice.

The thing is with Stephen King books is that, if you read enough of them, things and people from one book tend to crop up (often just briefly) in another. Take Father Callahan for instance, he turns up again in Wolves of the Calla (the fifth book in King's Dark Tower series) and you finally get to know what happened to him after he left the Lot.

Amateur Vampirologist said...

You can also read a bit of the back story of King's fictional town here.

It mentions a prequel of sorts ("Jerusalem's Lot") and a sequel ("One for the Road")...of sorts to it as well.

King also had plans to write a "proper" sequel to the 1975 novel, but, alas, it never eventuated. However, as Steve mentioned, a continuation is found in The Dark Tower: Wolves of Calla. King alludes to it in his "FAQ" page.

So, you can regard it as "canon".

If you get a chance, not sure if you have, try and get a copy of the Salem's Lot miniseries (1979) on DVD. It was directed by Tobe Hooper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) fame.

There's also a direct-to-video sequel (in name only) called Return to Salem's Lot (1987).