Book Review | ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Published by Signet on October 17, 1975

Genres: Adult, Horror, Paranormal

Format: Paperback

Pages: 427

Source: Purchased

Goodreads: 

Something strange is going on in Jerusalem’s Lot … but no one dares to talk about it. By day, ‘Salem’s Lot is a typical modest New England town; but when the sun goes down, evil roams the earth. The devilishly sweet insistent laughter of a child can be heard echoing through the fields, and the presence of silent looming spirits can be felt lurking right outside your window. Stephen King brings his gruesome imagination to life in this tale of spine-tingling horror.

REVIEW

I continued on with my Stephen King project in March by reading ‘Salem’s Lot, his second published work. I went into this book blind, and I’m glad I did because there is a big build-up to the story. ‘Salem’s Lot opens with a man and a boy escaping to Mexico from a town in Maine called Jerusalem’s Lot. The reader knows they are both scared, and that they must return to the Lot in order to solve a problem. The book then rewinds to the start of the story when the man goes to Jersulam’s Lot for the first time since his childhood. This is a haunted house book that turns into a paranormal story, and one in which the writing is excellent.

Here’s the thing about my experience with ‘Salem’s Lot – it took me nearly three weeks to read the book, which is three times my normal pace. I had to force myself to continue on with the story, and at times I felt downright bored. That’s because King is creating a new world. Jerusalem’s Lot is a fictional town, and the true protagonist of this book. King writes in exceptional detail, describing characters in the setting in such a realistic way. So even though I didn’t like how slow the pace of this novel is, I can appreciate the work it took. I am really amazed at King’s ability to write such a developed novel so early on in his career.

In regards to the characters, I did struggle a bit in keeping up with the large cast featured in ‘Salem’s Lot. It became more difficult because so many of the characters have similar names, such as Mike, Mark, and Matt. Nonetheless, once I got into the story I was better able to keep track of everyone. If you have trouble with names, I would recommend keeping a character list nearby when you read, and simply jot down a quick note of each character’s role in the story.

Moreover, I was a bit disappointed that I never felt scared by this book. King is known for his horror novels, but I just was never creeped out or on the edge of my seat. I did find some of the real life scenes quite disturbing, but none of the paranormal elements got to me. Perhaps King is trying to make a point here, as I did sit back and wonder what was happening in my own town. Not including the paranormal elements, I’m sure people go through the same things that the characters in Jerusalem’s Lot do, and that is disturbing in and of itself. I’m interested to see if King’s next book The Shining will incite fear in me.

Overall, I’m glad I pushed through the slow pace of ‘Salem’s Lot. I did enjoy the story, and I think the book got better and better as I continued reading. The third-person narration was very well done, and I’m very impressed with King’s writing. If you are looking to get into King’s novels, I do not recommend starting here as it is a very long book. However, if you are familiar with his work, or really enjoy adult paranormal, this is a good book to read. I would love to hear your thoughts on ‘Salem’s Lot if you’ve read it, too!

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