Melissa McShane's Reviews > 'Salem's Lot

'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
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it was amazing
bookshelves: own, horror, dark-fantasy, vampires, workshop

I read this as part of the workshop I'm attending in April, and one of the rules is that we're to read the books for enjoyment--not analyzing or looking at them like a writer. I originally decided that meant I wouldn't review the books at all, but I changed my mind. I did my best to follow instructions, but I don't think it means I can't look back on it and think about what I liked, or didn't like.

This gets bonus stars because I was both reluctant to read it and convinced I wouldn't like it. I don't enjoy being scared, I don't read horror, and Stephen King in general is a brilliant writer whose books are often too coarse for my taste. But this was simply amazing. It's terrifying without being frightening, if that makes sense: I didn't have any trouble sleeping afterward, but I was haunted by images and moments that taken as a whole made for an evocative, horrifying, thrilling read.

I wonder, however, what I would have thought of the book if I hadn't known what it was about. I don't know if this is a spoiler or not, but...(view spoiler) At any rate, since King doesn't come out and say what's going on in 'salem's Lot, I had to wonder how soon I would have picked up on the truth. And whether I would have liked it better. I love puzzling out mysteries--not mysteries as in the genre, but mysteries where the details of what's going on are doled out over time. (I do like the mystery genre as well, but it's different.)

So, since there's a chance of people who live in caves seeing this, I'll stick to more spoilers: (view spoiler)

And King really is a master. I enjoyed every moment of the story, even the longish digressions, because it all felt like it contributed to the totality of the book. The early section that's a day in the life of the town, highlighting a lot of the lesser characters, was particularly effective because I couldn't help wondering if he did it because they were all going to die. And the question of the nature of evil is satisfactorily addressed throughout (I love the references to Shirley Jackson), with the ending being both a triumph and a failure. (view spoiler) Overall, I loved it, and I'm grateful to the workshop because I would never have read it otherwise.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 10, 2018 – Finished Reading
March 12, 2018 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Audrey (new)

Audrey I live in a cave. I’ve heard of this book but don’t know anything at all about it.


message 2: by Melissa (last edited Mar 12, 2018 09:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Melissa McShane Audrey wrote: "I live in a cave. I’ve heard of this book but don’t know anything at all about it."

It's old enough (1975) that I wasn't sure if the plot was well-known. I don't read Stephen King's books in general, so it's like...does everyone know Christine is about an evil car? That kind of thing. I'm glad I used the spoilers, then. Really, I don't know how I managed to learn what it was about, and I think it would be way better going into it blind. Plus the cover copy is very coy about it, so I have to assume they want people to be surprised.


message 3: by Audrey (new)

Audrey I like being completely blind-sided. I hate when blurbs give away half or even more of the plot.


message 4: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Forrest I live in a cave too, and have actually never read Stephen King! I think because my suspicion was that I'd feel about his books the way you say you've felt about some of them--though in recent years I've realized I might like some... I just have never gotten around to it.

I don't mind spoilers, though, so I read your spoiler :-)

This course you're taking seems great. What's the title, and where is it offered?


Melissa McShane Francesca wrote: "I live in a cave too, and have actually never read Stephen King! I think because my suspicion was that I'd feel about his books the way you say you've felt about some of them--though in recent year..."

The kinds of problems I have with the Stephen King books I have read (aside from this one) make it unlikely that I'll read others. I suspect 'Salem's Lot is an outlier. Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong.

The workshop is the Fantasy coast workshop taught by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. They do a number of these week-long workshops, some on genre fiction, some on business, and there's an Anthology workshop that's supposed to be amazing. It's in Oregon in April. I'm actually nervous about it because there's a lot of short fiction writing involved, and I'm not experienced with short fiction. But that's part of why I'm going--that, and to get a fresh look at fantasy literature. The reading list is interesting. I've read about a third of it recently enough that I don't have to read it again, and about a third of it I've never read. I've reached the point where (after the fables and fairy tales) I'm re-reading, and there are things on the list like The Haunting of Hill House and Akata Witch I'm looking forward to.


Melissa McShane Audrey wrote: "I like being completely blind-sided. I hate when blurbs give away half or even more of the plot."

Me too! Now that I have to write blurbs for my own books, I'm conscious of how difficult it is to not give stuff away. It's a fine balance.


message 7: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Forrest Thanks--certainly following along with your reading has been/is fascinating.


message 8: by Audrey (new)

Audrey Melissa wrote: “The workshop is the Fantasy coast workshop taught by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith.”

Fun!

I haven’t read much King – first was 11/22/63, then Christine, then Joyland. Christine is the closest one to horror, but it’s more creepy than scary. They were all big on nostalgia.


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