6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
IMO best horror novel ever written,
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This review is from: Salem's Lot (Paperback)
I remember going through my dad's VHS drawer (these were the days before DVD's came out - never mind Blu-Rays) and one VHS caught my eye like no other. It was `Salem's Lot, based on the novel by some guy I'd never heard of called Stephen King (I was only twelve). I begged my dad to let me watch it, but he said it would scare me. When I had done my best impression of Bart Simpson ("Dad can I watch `Salem's Lot?) over and over again, he finally gave in and I sat down to watch it. It was an old film but that didn't bother me. I was captivated by the settings and the scenes and the brilliant acting by the likes of David Soul. But this is a review on the novel and not on the film.
I had recently read Carrie and I wanted to read more Stephen King, based on how much I had loved the `Salem's Lot film. I saved up my pocket money for a few months and went into town and brought about seven books by Stephen King, one of them being `Salem's Lot. I had no idea what I was in for, but as soon as I sat down and read the first page, I knew I was in for one of the greatest literary journeys I had ever been on.
This was only King's second novel, but already he had let his talent grow and he allowed himself to reach higher levels and pass boundaries he had limited himself to on Carrie. The novel had more depth and more structure to it. It was a real whirlwind of both character development and story.
The novel's main character is Ben Mears who comes back to his hometown of `Salem's Lot, Maine, to write a novel based on a house he went into as a child that haunted him up to this day. He finds that the house has been brought by two strange figures - a man named Straker, and mysterious entity that no one has seen known as Barlow. The town of `Salem's Lot soon becomes the domain of evil and people strangely disappear into the night, never to be seen again until they re-awaken as vampires. Ben and a few of the other human residents travel by day to try and stop the evil that has come to the town, the evil that will take over if the vampires and not found and staked. But Ben Mears must stake more than the vampires - he must now stake his childhood fears and save those closest to him.
King originally wrote this as wanting to do a modern version of Dracula and it works. I have read a lot of vampire literature in my time (Twilight is not counted as vampire literature) and I have to say that a long with "Interview with the Vampire" by Anne Rice, this novel is the closest that comes to bringing about the genius of Stoker's Dracula novel. It has everything - an evil vampire who wants to take over a town, an everyman guy who with the help of a group of close friends of doctors and academics become vampire hunters who have to grapple with the horror that has not even bespoken through their nightmares.
What I also love about this novel is the humour that King imposes throughout the characters and scenes. It is not forced either - it feels real and for the reader who is going on this journey, it is much needed humour that they themselves are encompassing in this very dark, horrific tale. What is also a work of genius on Mr King's part is that rather than force the horror of the undead and darkness on to the reader, some of the real horror comes from behind the doors of the houses the townspeople of `Salem's Lot inhabits. What secrets is this small town hiding and what consequences will it have on them and the people?
This really is one of Stephen King's best novels and for me it stands as probably not just my favourite Stephen King novel, but also one of my favourite novels by anyone of all time. It is a book I love coming back to again and again. I love visiting the small township of `Salem's Lot and getting to know its residents again and again, finding out their secrets and rushing through the town with Ben and Co staking the vampires, trying to find their master. There is no book like it and I envy you if you have not read this novel yet - you are going to be really delighted. Just make sure when you do start reading it that you save yourself enough time because when you start this masterpiece, you are not going to want to put it down until you reach the end. And if you are like me, once you have got to the end, you might go right back to the beginning and start all over again.
Believe me, it's that good!