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Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Salem's Lot (original 1975; edition 1976)

by Stephen King

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9,104153329 (3.93)139
Title:Salem's Lot
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Signet (1976), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 428 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Salem's Lot by Stephen King (1975)

  1. 130
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    Death_By_Papercut: Stephen King does vampires...quite well!

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English (146)  French (3)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (153)
Showing 1-5 of 146 (next | show all)
Not my favourite King novel at all. Perfectly good horror novel with some frightening set pieces, but it dragged often. But then, it's an earlier work, before he really found his footing. ( )
  Violetthedwarf | Oct 23, 2014 |
Not my favourite King novel at all. Perfectly good horror novel with some frightening set pieces, but it dragged often. But then, it's an earlier work, before he really found his footing. ( )
  Violetthedwarf | Oct 23, 2014 |
The town nickname of ‘Salem’s Lot evokes images of witches and devil worshipping; yet the novel involves an entirely different group of mythical nightmare figures done with typical King flair. It is a story that starts slowly, carefully building the setting and a rapport between characters and readers before the suspense builds to heart-stuttering levels. As in all of King’s novels, it is also a story not just about the external evils of monsters but also about the hidden evils inside a person. The evil is not just the undead who prey on the townspeople at night but also in the townspeople themselves, their New England isolationism, and their refusal to recognize the dangers they all instinctively feel is possessing their town.

Mr. King freely admits that ‘Salem’s Lot is his own personal homage to Bram Stoker and the pulp fiction horror novelists of his childhood, which is good because there are many similarities between Stoker’s novel and this one. There is the small band of heroes who are the only ones who know the truth. There is a seemingly insurmountable foe. There is the one elderly vampire expert who provides guidance and advice to the heroes. There is even the inclusion of newspaper articles and headlines to introduce the epistolary feel of Stoker’s novel.

Yet, there are enough differences to thrill any King fan. Most importantly, there is no guarantee that the story ends well for any of the characters. The unease with which readers will close the book or turn off the audiobook is unique to King and his realization that no one who faces such terrifying circumstances can emerge entirely unscathed. Also of vital importance and a lesson King drives home particularly well in ‘Salem’s Lot is that life very rarely ends with a happy ending. Good does not always triumph over evil; in fact, most of the time good ends up with a pyrrhic victory. It is an unsettling realization that makes the entire story just that much more frightening because of this one element of frank realism in a story filled with fantasy and myth.

Ron McLarty does an excellent job narrating ‘Salem’s Lot. His is an understated performance,, choosing to let the story provide the chills and shivers of terror. The cast of characters, as is any King novel, is quite large, and yet through subtle manipulations of voice, tonality, and pitch, listeners have no problems discerning among them. In fact, it becomes quite entertaining to listen to him switch from the rich volubility of Father Callahan to the nasal smugness of Barlow. As with any good narrator, Mr. McLarty’s performance enhances the story and improves the richness of the characters and spookiness of the setting and is yet another in a long line of narrators who make listening to King’s novels an absolute pleasure.

‘Salem’s Lot is one of King’s first novels, and it does show. There is a lack of research and depth to it that is much more prevalent in his more recent works. However, this is not enough to prevent one from thoroughly enjoying the story. It is every bit as frightening and gripping as one expects from King. Readers fall in love with the characters, making their eventual fates that much more suspenseful and gut-wrenching. It also has that stylistic signature of his, in which the ordinary become suspect and potentially threatening. In fact, after finishing ‘Salem’s Lot, readers will never drive through a small town again without wondering just what is occurring behind the closed curtains and blinds. In other words, it is a true King novel.
  jmchshannon | Oct 17, 2014 |
This book was slow at first for me. I mean, really slow. I understand the build-up, but usually I have a character or two I am interested in, so it isn't a big deal. It wasn't the case here. For almost a fifth of the book, I was almost bored. I wasn't interested in any of the characters and those more colourful were of the sort you wish they'd die. But then the story switched, its characters became alive, a couple of them were added into the mix and it simply became a great horror story.

I won't compare this classic take on vampires with some other. There is enough of that already and it is better written than I would write. The vampires of 'Salem's Lot are truly evil. They cannot be redeemed.
But as much as one can blame the vampire for the destruction of the small town, the people living there are to be blamed too. Those living in Salem's Lot are broken and imperfect. I wasn't even sorry when some of them died. They are that bad. Below the surface of the small-town normality are festering fears, doubts, suspicions, even hate. Then again, there are a few of those who are outstanding even with their own flaws (Ben, a writer who came back to conquer his fears; Matt, an old teacher who was introduced later in the story; Mark, a very brave boy).

Children in horror stories are among the creepiest things ever with their laughter in the night. Their cruelty is always more hair-raising than anything an adult does. And that is just one of the scary things in this story.
( )
  Irena. | Aug 26, 2014 |
Perfect. ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (56 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
King, Stephenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Piatti, CelestinoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wagner, ChristophÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winger, IlseÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
The town knew darkness...and the awful, heavy silence of terrifying images grotesquely dancing in and out of the shadows...and stark white faces, huge empty eyes and long gnarled hands that reached out with lustful insistence...and the paralyzing fear of a diabolical corruption and a hideoous peril more dreadful than death. But no one living in Salem's Lot dared talk about the high, sweet, evil laughter of a child...and the sucking sounds... (0-451-12545-2)
Haiku summary
Quiet wooded town.
Darkness draws across the night.
Leaf strewn silent paths.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671039741, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:13 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

Stephen King's second novel, Salem's Lot, is the story of a mundane town under siege from the forces of darkness. Considered one of the most terrifying vampire novels ever written, it cunningly probes the shadows of the human heart, and the insular evils of small-town America.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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