“Turn off your television - in fact why don’t you turn off all the lights except the one by your favourite chair? - and we’ll talk about vampires in the dim. I think I can make you believe in them, because while I was working on this book, I believed in them myself.”
That is Stephen King's foreword, and oh does it set the tone!
'Salem's Lot is a genuinely scary read that kept me up night after night.
This is my first read of a Stephen King book. And I learnt why he is one of the bestselling authors of all time. I would argue that making a reader feel genuine fear is one of the hardest things to accomplish. Yet King does this with consistent ease.
One of the incredible parts of this story is how King does not only establish and build on his core characters, but he manages to form almost an entire town of people, with their own unique personalities that are subtly implemented in just a few sentences. This really brought the story to life and is the only book I have read that has succeeded in this.
“Talk did no good with bullies. Hurting was the only language that the bullies of the world seemed to understand, and he supposed that was why the world always had such a hard time getting along.”
The prose of Stephen King is wonderfully accessible to all. It is smooth, inviting and subtly yet effectively relays all the information and tension that King desired. The natural progression of the hurting manages to form so much fear and tension in the reader. It is simply put, masterful.
“For the small children, bedtime is come. Time for the babies to be packed into their beds and cribs by parents who smile at their cries to be let up a little longer, to leave the light on. The indulgently open closet doors to show there is nothing in there.
And all around them, the bestiality of the night rises on tenebrous wings. The vampires time has come.”
As well as brilliantly forming a wide cast, the core group were brilliant. Susan, Ben, Matt, Mark (brilliant), Father Callahan and Jimmy. Together they were so great, with their interactions and dialogue so true to their characters. They each had their own flaws, and you loved them in their moments of strength and bravery.
The singular weakness I can think of this story his that while the ending was good, I personally did not think it was on par with the rest of this wonderfully told story. Still a great conclusion though! By no means at all does the ending make the book of a lesser quality. It just guides it away from perfection.
Overall, 'Salem’s Lot has made certain that I will be reading plenty more of King, probably starting with his short story collection, Different Seasons, which has The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption within. This is not a story for the fainthearted. A brilliant story of vampires and the terrors of the night.
A writer called Ben Mears returns to 'Salem's Lot to write a new novel and maybe bury a fear that continues to haunt him 20 years on. But Salem's lot has an ancient evil that is strongly linked with the spine chilling Marsten House. That evil is about to wreak havoc on 'Salem's Lot. Now I've never actually read a Stephen King novel. Although I didn't know what to expect, I had really high standards considering its Stephen King. And so here's my thoughts on Salem's Lot.
“I'm one of those people who doesn't really know what he thinks until he writes it down.”
I can relate to that, can't you?
Stephen King is the rare kind of author who does not allow himself to be bound by the staples of any one genre. He’s been writing a book or two a year for so long that the tools he once borrowed for his early works have now become so seamlessly his that in combining conventions of different genres he weaves stories quite unlike anything else out there.
Take for example the victim of this review, 11/22/63. I could label it as sci-fi, of course, because the central plot point of this novel is time travel. I could label it a thriller twice over, because during two—three, even—parts of the novel, it certainly borrows from murder mysteries, spy-craft novels and the like. I could easily call it a great romance because…I think you can figure that one out. Hell, it’s an excellent introduction to the history behind Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination of Kennedy, with a number of artistic freedoms. It’s all this and beyond; an 850-page novel that’s more than the sum of its parts. This is one of those books that you owe to yourself to experience.
It’s a simple enough premise – Al, the dying owner of a diner, enlists his friend Jake Epping, an English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, to go back in time and prevent Kennedy’s assassination. Something in the pantry in Al’s diner allows anyone going down the steps to step into a different world – that of 1958’s America. It’s insane – and yet it’s real, as Jake quickly realises after Al practically shoves him through the ripple in time. The world of 1958 is as real, as tangible as Jake’s 2011. But how does it all work? Jake decides to test Al’s explanation, and in so doing hits the brick wall that is time itself. You see, time does not like to be pushed around by the occasional time traveller. Time is obdurate.
To make it up to him, I do feel like causality or fate or what-have-you does offer the occasional aid when Jake’s back is against the wall. Thus we get an It-inspired cameo early on, several callbacks to the greater King universe and numerous pages of psychological trauma to rummage through with my psychiatrist.
What does 11/22/63 do right? Character development, plot progression, dialogue (oh, that King dialogue gave me all the Dark Tower goosebumps), romance, time travel and all the consequences that come with it. Not only does he do all these elements right, King excels at each and every one of them. I could go on and on and on about the characters – and some of them are familiar to a reader of King’s work but with their unique twists and turns – but to do so would be to rob you, dear reader, of getting acquainted with them the same way I did, without a single clue.
What does it do wrong?
That’s the thing. Just about nothing.
Stephen King’s 11/22/63 receives my personal stamp of recommendation along with
You should read this if: