I must start by pointing out that the 3 stars awarded here are not for the novel itself; it still remains a classic vampire tale and a great contemporary reworking of Bram Stoker's Dracula. If you haven't already done so, read it, especially on a cold autumn night when the wind's blowing and the trees outside are rustling. As King himself implores in the new introduction here '...why don't you turn off all the lights except for the one over your favourite chair?-and we'll talk about vampires here in the dim.'
No, the 3 star rating depicts my disappointment in this actual so-called 'special edition.' When The Stand was re-released in the early 90's we were treated to an extra 400 pages of text which were originally excised before the original publication as King was a relatively untested author and those extra pages would have made the cost of publication, binding, etc, prohibitive. When we were finally able to read the novel in it's 'uncut' form we were shown a whole new character arc with a new journey, as well as additional experiences and backgrounds of already well-loved characters. The chance to experience Salem's Lot all over again in the same light was too good to pass up.
But that's not what we get here. The novel is presented in it's original form with the promised 'previously unpublished fifty pages of material' added on afterward, a bit like the extras on a DVD. Why some of this wasn't included in the book is a mystery. In these pages we find Barlow's (originally called Sarlinov) daytime guardian is an army of rats, resulting in a much more gruesome death for Jimmy Cody; an extremely disturbing sequence involving a vampire baby; a longer sequence in which our heroes travel through the Lot staking and exposing vampires to the sun, and various additional character background pieces. Some of the scenes are alternate takes on events: Callahan meets a different fate here than in the book- which would have left a major story arc in The Dark Tower books turning out very different!- and the final showdown is slightly different. As interesting as these pages are I personally don't interpret this to be 'the novel as the author intended'. It would appear that we've already had that for the last 30 years!
It's a nice touch to include the connected short stories 'Jerusalem's Lot' and 'One For The Road', previously only available as part of the 'Night Shift' collection, the latter being a wonderfully creepy sequel to the main book and the former a prequel of sorts, but the inclusion of a half-dozen arty black & white photos which bear little relevance to the text does not make an 'illustrated edition' in my humble opinion. Some drawings or paintings by previous King collaborator Berni Wrightson would have been so much more entertaining and appropriate...
So, a beautifully produced and bound hardback package for those who are unfamiliar with the town of Jerusalem's Lot, or for those who only know Father Callahan from The Dark Tower and want to know his back-story and origin; otherwise it's only for those who must have everything that Stephen King has published. You know who you are. And, dammit, I'm one of you!