Book Review: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

salems lotFinally finished reading Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. I’m not sure how this one escaped my plate from my younger self’s King buffet days — perhaps I’ve never been that into vampires — but I came across the book at a thrift store and decided to pick it up.

Salem’s Lot has much of the King tropes within it: a town full of people, each with their dark secrets; a reluctant hero, who step by calloused step becomes more intertwined in the supernatural mystery taking place; some fascinating and fun side-characters, who breathe as if they were your neighbors next door; and a climax that isn’t all that climactic.

I was hoping for a little more originality with the vampire lore here, but King almost reverently hits every cliche that’s come about since the dawn of vampiredom.

  • Garlic — check.
  • Holy water — check.
  • Crosses — check. (And who cares if the heroes even believe in God, it still works)
  • Not being seen in mirrors? Check.
  • Sleeping in coffins? Check.
  • Stakes through the heart? Oh yeah.
  • Sunlight burning their flesh? Yep, that too.

For someone as inventive as King can be, it was a little disheartening not finding something new or different. Then again, this was King’s second novel; perhaps he was still playing it safe at the time.

A far more interesting look at this novel would be to compare it to Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. If you remove “vampires” and replace it with “pod people,” the two novels are so close, both thematically and plot-wise, as to make them almost identical. In my opinion, however, Finney wins for sheer originality.

So, yeah, I can mark this one off the few books I haven’t read by Stephen King, but had it remained on that shelf I don’t think I would have missed much.

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