Yes you read that correctly, I am reviewing a book that was written by the King way back in 1975.
Because I’ve just finished a reread of it and I was blown away by the huge difference in Stephen King’s writing style of back in the day. ‘Salem’s Lot’ is so phenomenally well written, I had a huge new appreciation for the book. There are pages of prose entwined with detailed descriptions, enough characters to fill a classroom; yet each have their own individual personalities, their own mannerisms and their own agendas.
I was first introduced to King’s work in my early teens. I inhaled his books and even watched some of the old ‘B’ movie translations of them (lets face it, it took years before any film maker could handle a Stephen King book with the respect it deserved. These stories need BIG budgets) I collected the paperbacks, and after I had devoured them, they stood proudly on my shelf for quite a few years. Then I finally realized I had to donate them. One of the problems with keeping paperbacks on display for a long time is the discoloration they suffer. So I reluctantly handed them over.I like to keep my books pristine.
For a while I read other genres, slipping into each of his new releases as I found them, but using the library as my main source. Then last week I was in Books-a-Million when I stumbled across a new cover design for ‘Salem’s Lot’.
I am a sucker, a marketers dream. I fell head over heels in love with it. I picked it up and popped it in my cart (yes I shop with a cart, I believe the store managers invested in them especially for me) My intention was to rebuild my collection with these spiffy new cover designs but not to actually reread them because goodness knows I have more books waiting to be read than I have room to house them.
However, as I stepped into my waiting car (read that as my husband picking me up) I began rifling through my new haul, and the book lingered in my hands for just a moment too long. At this point I have to tell you that I had ‘Outlander’ waiting for me at home. It had taken me three attempts to get into the ‘Outlander’ book and I had finally read past the first fifty pages. I was finally ‘in’. But I made the mistake of opening the pages of ‘Salem’s Lot’and reading the first line:
“Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.”
I read on, for a page or two, (or so I intended) and before I knew it we were home and twenty minutes had passed and I knew then beyond all reasonable doubt that I was reading this book right now and ‘Outlander’ would just have to wait patiently for me yet again.
You see there was ‘something’ about King’s writing in this book. Something precious and rare. Something that I missed the first time around.
Don’t misunderstand me, I love King’s signature style of character driven novels with fast paced action, witty repartee between characters and things you would never believe, being, well…believable. But here in ‘Salem’s Lot’ we have all this and more!
Salem’s Lot was Stephen King’s second book, right after ‘Carrie’. Can you imagine how hard it would be for a new author to tackle a book about Vampires and make the reader be able to suspend reality? No pressure right? So my theory is that he put everything into this book…and it worked.
Its only a few months ago that I finally read Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ for the first time. This is hard for me to confess, especially since I was born and bred in a small town not far from Whitby, where much of the book is based. Shame on me. Its one of my favorite towns to visit when I go back to England too.
Stoker’s writing is spectacular. It is timeless. It is absorbing and intriguing even after being written almost one hundred and fifty years ago.It was an amazing read. And I really believe now that Stephen King wanted to pay true homage to Stoker with ‘Salem’s Lot’. He does not copy Stoker’s style at all- that’s not what I am saying- but I feel like King tries his very best in this book. It’s like all his other books are a (very tasty) quick bake and Salem’s Lot is fine cuisine. It sounds paradoxical to say that his effort on this work shows, yet it appears effortless too.
Please pick it up if you get a chance. I’d even recommend this book to someone who doesn’t particularly choose Horror as an enjoyable genre, Just for the phenomenal writing.It really is too good to miss.
Needless to say, I have since purchased two more of his books to reread: ‘The Shining’ and ‘The Stand’ (I may be a while with a review of ‘The Stand’) These covers are so stunning!
If you are interested in the covers that got me hooked, they are the Anchor paperback edition, part of Random house. And if you want to watch the ‘B’ movie version (as I did afterwards) you can buy it cheaply from HERE Enjoy!
Lots of love,