Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem's Lot in the hopes that living in an old mansion, long the subject of town lore, will help him cast out his own devils and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods and only one comes out alive, Mears begins to realize that there may be something sinister at work and that his hometown is under siege by forces of darkness far beyond his control.
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Fond of keeping the blood curdling throughout the month of October, I was looking for only the best of the spine-tinglers, the elite nightmare elicitors, the ones that scare the bejesus out of you and have you even welcoming your dog onto your clean bedspread for the night. While there are some awfully good reads out there, I harkened back to one that I read in 1975 (when I was 5 yrs. old)--one of only 3 books that has truly ever creeped me out (one being The Exorcist and the other scares me too much to mention!). And, it is a pedigreed chiller, claimed by the King himself to be his favorite child...Salem's Lot. He even dedicated this one to his daughter. *Do not think of the terrible mini-series...it did not do this one justice.
Dracula, Count Orlok (Nosferatu), and Mr. Barlow...the aristocracy of vampires (Lestat was just too well behaved). There is something undeniably exclusive to Dracula - despite all the gore clever authors can think up, or all the modern diabolical twists and turns -- Count Dracula still reigns supreme as the black-hearted grandaddy of them all. King takes Stoker's lore of Dracula, revives it, and brings it out of the dank castle cellars of Transylvania to a small town in modern Maine (of course--but it could be anywhere, USA) as Mr. Barlow. There are no new evolved vampirical powers, just the original undiluted horror of the Vampire. [*Note" On this most recent recording, the author gives a brief introduction for the story, explaining how his idea evolved into the book--really fun.]
The battle is between pure good and absolute evil -- and more importantly, convincing townfolk that there is a vampire in town - an actual bloodsucking demon of the night - before they themselves are recruited to this legion of the undead. The 1970's rural town is wonderfully depicted, full of the kind of hay-seed characters, and that small town party-line feeling King is known for creating so richly. His personal bone-to-pick with small towns comes through loud and clear as he devours the residents without mercy, relishing in extinguishing the abusers, gossipers, and Salem's Lot ne'er-do-wells. The narrator enriches the story with the appropriate chills...if you pardon his un-even delivery of Mr.Barlow's dialect (3.5*).
For fans of the good-ol' garlic-hating, crucifix-fearing, coffin-dwelling, sun-dreading vampire...dig this one out and brush off the dust. It holds up perfectly and deserves to be held in equal esteem with the best of the worst vamps and their stories. You don't need my recommendation; if Stephen King -- the man who has defined what goes bump in the night -- says this is his personal favorite out of his own novels, you know it's got to be wonderfully deliciously dreadful. [*Disclaimer: I'm not a fan of abundant gore, and haven't read much of Koontz or Barker!]
Being a admirer of Stephen King's writing pretty much from day one, I read this in it's first printing. I absolutely loved it and have re-read it many time over the years. I almost didn't get it on Audible for that reason and I would have been making a huge mistake.
Hearing a story read, even a beloved favorite can bring out all sorts of little things that you never realized you missed. Salem's Lot is one of those stories. Read very well by Ron McLarty, the story of a town infested by vampires and it's inability to understand what is happen to it, is enthralling and chilling. Modern rationality keeps the majority of the Lot's inhabitants from realizing that The Master is among them. Only a handful of people, an alcoholic priest, an author who can't let go of childhood nightmares, a young boy with a preternatural knowledge and intensity, and a high school teacher who suspends his belief. They stand opposite of Barlow, a centuries old vampire who intends to end them.
This is Stephen King discovering his gift and using it to keep you up all night. I highly recommend it. Whether you have read it or not, you will find a story that will fascinate and scare the pants off of you!