'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When writer Ben Mears moves back to 'Salem's Lot, a sleepy Maine town he spent a few years living in as a child, he has bitten off more than he can chew. 'Salem's lot is home to an ancient evil. Can Ben Mears and his friends stop the vampire in their midst before falling victim to his lust for blood?
One of the great things about getting older is that old books magically become new books after ten years. I forgot most of the wrinkles of this one so I figured it was a good time to give it another read.
'Salem's Lot owes a lot to Jack Finney's Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers. In this case, the pod people are replaced by vampires! Stephen King does a great job portraying small town life and then destroying it. While I remembered the bare bones of the plot, most of it had been lost in the sands of time so it was a pretty suspenseful read the second time through.
Ben Mears is the first instance of what has become a Stephen King staple over the years: the writer as the main character. In some ways, Mears is a prototype for the protagonists of Bag of Bones and The Dark Half. Mears, damaged by the death of his life, moves back to 'Salem's Lot to try to resume writing. Good luck with that.
The characters other than Ben Mears were an interesting crew. Too bad most of them are dead or worse by the end. I'd read a second book featuring the two survivors dealing with the fallout from this one.
If I had to pick one thing to gripe about, it would be that the ending itself seemed a little easy. After everything that came before, it was kind of a whimper rather than a bang. Also, I had to wonder why they didn't just burn Barlow's hiding place down and be done with it.
40 years later, Stephen King's sophomore effort is still a fine read. His Dracula meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers tale is just as suspenseful as the first time I read it. Four out of five stars.
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