When writer Ben Mears returns to the town of ‘Salem’s Lot, he hopes to rid himself of a bad experience from his childhood by writing a book about the old Marsten house. But these days things aren’t quite what they seem in the Lot, and Mears learns that the old house has been bought by mysterious stranger Straker, and his equally mysterious and (up til now), unseen partner, Barlow. Making friends with schoolteacher Matt and college graduate Susan, Mears soon has a load of questions about the strangers and the sudden, and unusually high incidence, of missing people.
For a long time I’ve been under the impression that I read ‘Salem’s Lot years ago, but as it turns out, it was one of the additional stories (included in this illustrated edition), that I’d actually read. Jerusalem’s Lot was published in 1978, three years after ‘Salem’s Lot, and tells of a previous incarnation of the town during the 1850s, through the letters of Charles Boone and his manservant.
Anyway, now I’ve read the actual novel, I have to say it was well worth waiting for. It’s an epic tale packed with a host of fascinating, and occasionally, horribly realistic characters. As Stephen King has said himself when talking about the book, it says a lot about small towns and what I suppose might be termed an ‘old-fashioned’ outlook on life. Of course, it’s the vampires who steal the day (and night) and there’s plenty of gnashing teeth and sharpened stakes to keep Dracula fans happy.
Though I didn’t find the book itself too scary, re-reading the last section, ‘Jerusalem’s Lot’ late at night did give me the heeby-jeebies a bit, partly, I think, because the writing style is similar to the great HR James, who always gets me properly scared.
A must for all SK fans and anyone who loves bitey-scary-stuff.