The most riveting Stephen King tales play on the themes of loneliness and isolation and Salem’s Lot is no exception. King takes the apocalyptic tone of The Stand and places it in the small town of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine, a fictional town that was also the title of King’s 1978 short story in the Night Shift collection. What follows is classic King and a novel that set the bar for both horror and King fans for years to come.
Salem’s Lot begins as Ben Mears returns to the town in which he grew up, Jerusalem’s Lot, following the recent death of his wife. His mission? To face his childhood fear associated with The Marsten House, a residence that embodies the very definition of desolate and eerie.
However, upon arriving in Jerusalem’s Lot, Mears discovers that two other newcomers to the town, businessmen by the names of Barlow and Straker, have taken up residence in the home. And this is where the story truly begins to delve into the territory of classic King.
To call the incidents that occur shortly after the arrival of Barlow and Straker strange would be an insult to any King reader. After all, it isn’t every day that the arrival of newcomers illicit a murder and the inexplicable disappearance of a young boy. But while these incidents might seem strange in our own world, they are right at home in the world of King.
As Ben begins a romance with Susan Norton, a younger woman intrigued by Ben’s profession, it becomes evident that the strange occurrences are the beginning of a truly evil undercurrent that threatens the future of Jerusalem’s Lot. Soon, the inhabitants of Jerusalem’s Lot turn from self-absorbed citizens into blood thirsty vampires and what could run the risk of being campy turns into a riveting and even moving story of small town America.
Salem’s Lot set the precedent for King’s later novels and though works such as The Tommyknockers and Pet Semetary utilized that same simultaneous fear and loathing of small town America, it is Salem’s Lot that truly captures both the spirit and the desolation that only a small community can offer such a twisted tale.
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