Alrighty everyone, for this week’s “Freaky Friday” post, I have chosen a classic horror novel by Stephen King. Salem’s Lot is actually the first book I read by King, and I read it as an adult because I was always too scared to pick up his work as a youngster. He is definitely a master of the genre and needs no introduction, so let’s move on to the review.
Ben Mears is a writer who spent part of his childhood in the Maine town of Jerusalem’s Lot, known as “Salem’s Lot” to the locals. As a child, Ben had a rather traumatizing experience at the now abandoned Marsten House, and he has come back to write about the house, hoping to face some of his childhood demons as he does so. What he doesn’t expect is that the house has been purchased by a vampire named Kurt Barlow, who is now making the entire town part of his vampire coven.
Soon everyone in town is growing fangs, leaving only Ben and a handful of other characters (Matt Burke, Father Callahan, and youngster Mark Petrie) fighting for their mortal lives.
One reason it took me so long to read anything by Stephen King is because I am not a huge fan of the horror genre in general. I don’t enjoy being scared. As a matter of fact, it makes me angry. I was once thrown out of a haunted house because I punched a scary clown in the face (I was a dumb teenager, cut me some slack).
However, what King does with the horror genre is truly genius. There is a reason he’s a household name and has sold as many books as he has.
Salem’s Lot is not a good book because it is scary, it’s a good book because it examines humanity in an interesting and unique way. It’s not just a vampire story but an examination of how we deal with childhood trauma and the fears we take with us into adulthood. Ben and Mark are perfect foils for one another as Ben guides Mark through the boy’s first real-life crisis, and by helping Mark with his problems, Ben is able to face his own. He also stakes some vampires along the way.
There’s even an exploration of faith with Father Callahan’s story as his faith is what makes him dangerous to the monsters preying on them. Not just anyone can hold up a crucifix and hurt a vampire in King’s universe. Belief is a powerful thing.
I didn’t give this book an official rating because, honestly, it’s been too long since I read it. It definitely gave me a newfound respect for the famous writer, and if you’ve never read any of his work because it’s “scary,” you should really consider giving him a shot. His novels are a lot more than cheap thrills and jump scares.