About ‘Salem’s Lot:

‘Salem’s Lot is a small New England town. Like so many others it contains the usual quota of gossips, drinkers, weirdos and respectable folk. Of course, there are tales of strange happenings – but not more than in any other town its size.

Ben Mears, a moderately successful writer, returns to the Lot to write a novel based on his early years, and to exorcise the terrors that have haunted him since childhood. The event he witnessed in the house now rented by a new resident. A newcomer with a strange allure. A man who causes Ben some unease as things start to happen…

When did I first read this? 1976 or thereabouts (Genesis had just released Wind and Wuthering which was being advertised on the radio almost constantly as I was reading this so I think the date is about right)

What age was I? An impressionable 14

How may times since then? I can’t believe this is only the fourth time I’ve read this but the stats don’t lie (at least not in this case)

Thoughts about the book:

This wasn’t the first Stephen King book I had read; I had devoured Carrie earlier the same year, enjoying the thrill of unhappy teenager getting her own back and loving the style of the book with its mix of traditional narrative alongside eyewitness reports and newspaper clippings and so on. But ‘Salem’s Lot was the big one for me, setting two things in stone for the future (1) vampires are my monster of choice (even sparkly ones a la Twilight) and (2) I would read anything by Stephen King – and I’ve pretty much stuck to that in the (gulp) 36 years since then  though I sometimes come to his stuff a while after publication.

I wish I had been able to keep the paperback version of this that I read as a teenager; if memory serves it was completely black with an embossed (?) head, and the only colour was a drop of blood – who could resist that? Sadly I lent it to someone and never got it back, but I indulged a few years ago in the rather lovely illustrated edition pictured above, with wonderful photographs, a glorious design and loads of additional material (like deleted scenes etc); a real pleasure to read.

I just love this story – a wonderful cast of characters dealing with the supernatural in a realistic setting, a cliché now perhaps but to someone my age at the time a real revelation. Love, horror, bravery, evil – all there in spades. And I can confirm that the feeling of dread about characters you have come to care about is still there even after several re-reads.

Interesting how much of my view of the book was affected by the TV version starring David Soul, for which I have a real soft spot; some of the scenes are still very vivid. Not a bad adaptation though I was still surprised to be reminded in the book that Ben was dark-haired.

This is a real treat for anyone who hasn’t read it before and worth revisiting for those who have, one of my absolute all time favourites.

This is the third book in my Big Re-Read project.

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