12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Beautiful Darkness,
This review is from: 'Salem's Lot (Paperback)
Stephen King has always been regarded as more of a pop fiction writer than a literary author--but in 1975 he turned out a book which, although overshadowed by the massive success of his later work, will stand the test: 'SALEM'S LOT. Simple yet multi-layered, elegant yet grotesque, this is the book that shows what King can really do when he sets his mind to it.
The story opens with Ben Mears, an author who has come to his childhood home of 'Salem's Lot with the idea of writing a novel about the small town's "haunted house" of note. As he observes the town, he also becomes a part of it, meeting a young woman who might be more than a passing interest, making new friends and renewing old acquaintances. But there is something--indefinable. Something that is slowly going wrong in the town. And it is connected with the "haunted house" of his childhood memories.
King is clearly drawing from several sources for inspiration, most particularly Bram Stoker's DRACULA and Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, as well as from traditional vampire lore. But what he does with this story of a vampire infestation in a quiet New England town is completely original, peeling back the lives of the townfolk in layers and then showing their gradual corruption as the plague spreads.
'SALEM'S LOT is more subtle than most King novels. It builds with a deliberate slowness and gradually develops a sense of paranoia--that suddenly explodes into a classic horror that keeps you reading through the night with every light in the house turned on. And King's style here is extraordinary: everything about the book is very precise with not a word out of place, the plot at once fantastic and disturbingly logical. There are several Stephen King novels on my bookshelf, and I enjoy them... but this is the one to which I most often return. If you've never read it, prepare yourself for Stephen King at his best. If you have read it, it's time to read it again.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer