Salem's Lot by Stephen King

see article on Stephen King as a literary influence click here


Salem’s Lot is small town America. The pace is slower, it seems quiet, but feelings are deep and just under the surface.  The townspeople still take care of their own. Stephen King has created this world for us and we find ourselves a part of it, anxious to read the master story teller’s tale.

The novel, Salem’s Lot, was Stephen King’s second novel published in 1975. King in two separate interviews, said this book was one of his favorites.  It is set in in Maine, of course, with a cast of interesting characters. We know King is not afraid to kill off his good guys and girls, so we start to care about, and root for them, when they must fight to stay alive. 

Marsten House sits on a hill above the town, a cemetery is just down the hill, and no one has lived in the house for years. The house has been recently purchased by Kurt Barlow an Austrian immigrant and his partner Richard Straker. Ben Mears, a writer, remembers the terror he felt in this house as a boy ,when he arrives back after 25 years, as a successful writer and planning to write about this house.

Ben makes friends with Matt Burke, a high school teacher, and with Susan Norton, a young college graduate. Danny Glick has just become the town’s first vampire but his brother Mark escapes.  Ben, Susan, Matt and Mark seek help from the local Catholic Priest. Holy Water, Crosses, and wooden stakes follow. Encounters with the master vampire follow. Some die of fear and many are turned into vampire followers. Mark, only a young boy, proves to be a challenge to the master vampire who at one-point spits in his face, but he loses his entire family to the vampires. 

The story seems like it might be predictable, but it holds us on the edge of our seat. This may well turn out to be one of your favorite Stephen King novels, if you have not read it yet, so I have not detailed out the ending but do highly recommend the book. 

Reviewing and reading a book written in 1975, considering it was made into a miniseries, may seem questionable to some? Why read this? My reason is that I never tire of the skill I find in Stephen King’s ability to tell a story. 


“The town has a sense, not of history, but of time, and the telephone poles seem to know this. If you lay your hand against one, you can feel the vibration from the wires deep within the wood, as if souls had been imprisoned in there and were struggling to get out.” 

“Alone. Yes, that’s the key word, the most awful word in the English tongue. Murder doesn’t hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym…”  

“The basis of all human fears, he thought. A closed door, slightly ajar.”

 “If a fear cannot be articulated, it can’t be conquered.”