"Salem's Lot" by Stephen King | Book Review
Genre: Mystery, Horror
Page Count: 653
First Published: October 17, 1975
Horror is a hard genre to write. A novel of that genre doesn't have the striking imagery of horror comics, or the endless toolbox of tricks a horror film can pull on its viewers to get their heart rate up. And yet, Stephen King knows something a lot of other authors don't, because his books never fail to make me feel uneasy. With 'Salem's Lot he takes his inspiration from Bram Stoker's vampire classic, Dracula, and manages to make his take on a vampire tale feel fresh and contemporary without sacrificing the eeriness or darkness of the familiar story.
King's writing style fits the setting particularly well. As someone who has criticized his obsession with details before, I have to say that I loved every word of this novel, which also feels very Gothic. The atmosphere he creates, and the autumnal setting play into the mood here, and every little detail helps create a unique reading experience. Anyone who is at least somewhat familiar with Stephen King's work already knows he is a master of character development (which is brilliant here as well), but there is a special character in 'Salem's Lot that comes to life through the pages: it's the town. Whatever the author is talking about, whatever the characters are experiencing—the town is always there, like some mysterious, bewitching entity that I just couldn't get enough of.
And then there are the vampires—dark, ruthless, and dangerous. Not the kind of glamorous, romantic, brooding vampires who are so often found in film, TV series, and young adult literature these days. King is not here to feed your romantic fantasies—he's here to fuel your nightmares. And yes, I did dream of the Marsten House a few times while reading this (which isn't an effect an lot of books have on me), and it was an unsettling experience, to say the least.
So, let's summarize: a small New England town, an old mansion, compelling characters, and vampires, all wrapped in an addictively eerie atmosphere, crafted masterfully by Stephen King. Can there be a more perfect novel to read during autumn? 'Salem's Lot is the way vampire novels should be.