Salem's Lot by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I tried reading Under the Dome last year. I found it to be poorly written and full of gore rather than plot. I gave up around 200 pages in.
I had no plans to try Stephen King again, until last week, when I discovered a reference to this book in an article I was reading for a paper I should be writing instead of this review. I decided to read at least the scene that was mentioned because it sounded relevant.
A few days later, I had the book in my hands and I settled down to read it, not looking forward to it and hoping that the scene I wanted would come soon. The poems at the beginning did little to alleviate my doubts. Neither did the prologue which, although well-written, did not seem to me to bode well for the coming novel.
Fifteen minutes later, I was remarking to everyone I met that Stephen King could actually write. I only stopped because I wanted to keep reading the book and I had limited time. I didn't read it one sitting, but it only took two or three. The book is remarkably well-written, and it's exactly the sort of writing I like (except for the unnecessary stuff put in only to make it an adult book so it'll sell, but it wasn't hard to ignore). The setting was done beautifully, although the metaphors were sometimes a little too vague. The characters were well set up, and narrowly avoided going over the line from the perfect amount to far too many, which when it works is a good thing.
This book wasn't particularly scary, especially once the vampires actually showed up, but that was okay with me. It was suspenseful and interesting, and I didn't need it to be anything else.
It was more religious than I'd expected, which was a little weird at times since I wasn't expecting it.
The characters were well done, although a few were killed off for no particular reason (I thought Jimmy would serve a purpose since he was the only one Barlow didn't mention in the letter... apparently not). I didn't particularly like any of them, but I almost never like book characters. Matt's Van Helsing impersonation annoyed me, but at least it was conscious. I do wish Father Callahan's ending hadn't been so sad and vague, but oh well.
And, of course, the best part: evil vampires taken straight out of Dracula (well, sort of, Dracula walked in the day). The retroactive invitation bit was cool; I don't think I've ever seen that before (speaking of which, does anyone know where the invitations come from in the first place? No one seems to have any idea). He didn't go with the OCD myths (yes, Count Von Count is a real vampire after all), which was a little disappointing since no one ever does... but then again, no one ever does. The vampires were also modernly pale, rather than ruddy like in all the legends, but again, no one ever does.
Okay, this has gone on way too long and I really do need to write my paper. Basically, this book was surprisingly good and I plan to give Stephen King a second chance.
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