'salem's Lot is about Jerusalem's Lot, a small town in Maine that becomes infested with vampires, and the few people who realize what's happening and...more'salem's Lot is about Jerusalem's Lot, a small town in Maine that becomes infested with vampires, and the few people who realize what's happening and try to stop it before it's too late.
'salem's Lot is a first for King in a few ways; it's his first foray into the world of vampires, his first novelist as a main character, and it's his first story with a young boy forced to dig deep for strength who fights for the white or the goodness of all mankind.
The problems with this book appear to be due to over editing rather than lack of writing skill. There are spots in the story that, while crisp, don't feel as fleshed out as they could be. The dialogue is a little dry and seems forced at times but not altogether unbelievable.
That being said there are many passages that stand out as great writing. King showcases his understanding of fear and pop culture and in doing so brings you closer to the characters. Some examples:
.....and you wondered what might be in there besides mice--what madmen, what monsters. Maybe they were peering out at you with yellow reptilian eyes. And maybe one night watching would not be enough; maybe some night that splintered, crazily hung door would be thrown open, and what you saw standing there would drive you to lunacy at one look. And you couldn't explain that to your mother and father, who were creatures of the light. No more than you could explain to them how, at the age of three, the spare blanket at the foot of the crib turned into a collection of snakes that lay staring at you with flat and lidless eyes. No child ever conquers those fears, he thought. If a fear cannot be articulated, it can't be conquered. And the fears locked in small brains are much too large to pass through the orifice of the mouth. Sooner or later you found someone to walk past all the deserted meeting houses you had to pass between grinning babyhood and grunting senility. Until tonight. Until tonight when you found out that none of the old fears had been staked--only tucked away in their tiny, child-sized coffins with a wild rose on top.
She found herself thinking of those same drive-in horror movie epics where the heroine goes venturing up the narrow attic stairs to see what's frightened poor old Mrs. Cobham so, or down into some dark, cobwebby cellar where the walls are rough, sweating stone--symbolic womb--and she, with her date's arm comfortably around her, thinking: What a silly bitch...I'd never do that! And here she was, doing it, and she began to grasp how deep the division between the human cerebrum and the human midbrain had become; how the cerebrum can force one on and on in spite of the warnings given by that instinctive part, which is so similar in physical construction to the brain of the alligator.
'salem's Lot has some awesome characters. Mark Petrie is like an early draft version of Jack Sawyer (The Talisman) and Jake Chambers (The Dark Tower Series). Straker is one of the coolest sidekicks ever. Barlow is one of my favorite vampire characters of all time. He is badass. The scene where he comes face to face with Father Callahan is amazing, memorable and worth reading the book for.
While this may not be either King's best work or the best vampire story, it's still an important novel in horror fiction.
I'd recommend it to fans of vampires -- real vampires, not the sparkly Day-Glo kind. (less)