I’ve read Stephen King since I was a kid. I have vivid memories of reading It one summer with my head propped up on the top bunk of my bed, reading to the bathroom light, absolutely terrified. I like a lot of his early stuff (except Christine. The only scary car I know of is a Yugo). ‘Salem’s Lot is King’s second published book and it’s a good one. Not terribly scary for me for the most part, but some very satisfying gore.
‘Salem’s Lot revolves around a small Maine town called Jerusalem’s Lot that quickly becomes overrun with vampires. A small band of intrepid citizens set out to stake every last one of those suckers (ha!). Mayhem ensues.
This novel moves at a clip. None of King’s bloat is in evidence here. Moreover, he nails the ending. One of the things I find utterly frustrating about King is how nine times out of ten he botches the ending. He builds up all this momentum and then seems to flop out at the end. Not so for ‘Salem’s Lot. It’s clean and satisfying.
There are a ton of characters to keep track of, and none of them are particularly deep, but that’s fine. King’s characterizations can be a little simplistic at times, the characters just being a conduit for the horror. I have no quarrel with that. There is one particularly dumb relationship where a guy and a girl fall in love in like five minutes for no discernible reason with no discernable chemistry. Everybody is named John or Tom or Susan.
I would have been terrified of the book when I was younger, but it’s wasn’t that scary to me in the present. Maybe I’ve read so much King that I kind of know the schtick. But that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book. It’s well done, tightly paced, and creepy as hell in parts. That’s all I ask of horror.