'Salem's Lot

'Salem's Lot - Jerry Uelsmann, Stephen King As a die-hard Stephen King fan, I am shocked it took me so long to finally read this, one of his most popular works. To add to the powerful impact the town of Jerusalem's Lot and its residents has on the reader, this special edition includes two short stories King penned about this notorious town, in addition to deleted scenes from the original manuscript. The final little extra included in this particular edition is a collection of black-and-white photos, depicting the mood and emotion King wants his readers to experience during the novel. Of course, nothing can do justice to the vividly horrifying scenes King's words paint in the readers' minds.

The story is set in the minuscule town of Jerusalem's Lot, Maine, an ancient village with more than it's share of secrets. Looming over 'the Lot', just outside of town, is the infamous Marsten House, an abandoned mansion with extreme superstitions surrounding it after centuries of mysterious occupants, homicide, and suicide. It is in this mansion that writer Ben Mears had the most terrifying experience of his childhood, and it is because of this house that he is back in 'Salem's Lot, determined to end the nightmares his visit to Marsten House cause him. Shortly after Ben moves into the local boardinghouse to write his next book, two mysterious men also arrive in town- and they've bought the evil house on the hill. Little is known about Straker and his companion Barlow, and town gossip fills in all the unknowns about the men and their business in 'Salem's Lot. Their arrivals signal the end of the peace in this sleepy town, and the beginning of unexplained deaths and disappearances after the sun goes down. Befriending high school teacher Matt Burke and the young Susan Norton, Ben works to discover the cause of the deaths. Later joined by Dr. Jimmy Cody, the orphaned Mark Petrie, and local priest Father Callahan, the group fights for the good to foil Barlow's plan to create an Undead following of the townspeople. It's a fight of good versus evil, mortality versus the ancient wisdom of the immortals, in a village virtually unknown to the rest of the world.

The short stories included are "Jerusalem's Lot" and "One For the Road." "Jerusalem's Lot" is a collection of letters and journal entries written by two men residing in Marsten House long before the time in which the novel occurs and gives much back story to the evil that looms over the house and nearby town, which lays deserted for reasons unknown. It shows a man's gradual descent into madness at the hands of the supernatural evil inhabiting the town's church, and his companion's horror at the change. "One For the Road" is a more modern tale of the Lot, told shortly after the novel takes place, when the city is once again abandoned, save for the evil undead that stalk in the night. The addition of a past and a future beyond human lifetimes solidifies the immortality of the vampiric force constantly feeding on the life around Marsten House.

Stephen King's vampires are those straight out of Bram Stoker's classic Dracula. They're the vampires who originally haunted the pages of literature at the dawn of the horror genre. They fear holy artifacts, burn in the sunlight, can not enter a home uninvited, and can only be destroyed by a stake to the heart. These evil beings, coupled with the darkness that already looms over the town in Marsten House creates the perfect horror story scene in a very modern world, as if it could actually have happened last week.

It is very easy to see why 'Salem's Lot was such an instant success back in 1975. The heavy darkness that fills every page is exactly what horror fans crave and why Mr. King is the authority in the modern horror genre. An easy five out of five stars.