>> Friday, October 18, 2013
'Salem's Lot: Illustrated Edition by Stephen King
Publication Date: ‘Salem’s Lot originally published 1975, this edition 2005
The Short Version:
The sleepy village of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine has some bad history and things are about to get much much worse.
Why I Read It:
I re-read this for the first time in years because I did a guest post about it for Jenn's Bookshelves about the first book that terrified me.
From the publisher (about ‘Salem’s Lot:
Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem's Lot in the hopes that living in an old mansion, long the subject of town lore, will help him cast out his own devils and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods and only one comes out alive, Mears begins to realize that there may be something sinister at work and that his hometown is under siege by forces of darkness far beyond his control.
This Illustrated Edition also contains a new introduction by the author, two short stories related to the original novel, and a selection of scenes deleted from the original manuscript. It also has what is described as “the lavishly creepy photographs of Jerry Uelsmann”.
Parts of this review were posted earlier this week on Jenn’s Bookshelves as part of her Murder, Monsters and Mayhem theme month. She let me guest post about “The First Book That Terrified Me”.
When I decided to finally re-read this after at least 30 years I found this special edition at my library so I decided to read it rather than my original Literary Guild edition that is still on my bookshelf.
Yes, it's still creepy. It didn't scare me as much as I'd remembered but it's also many years and many other vampire books later.
I think one of the reasons that this book creeped me out so much and stuck in my memory as a scary one was because it was my first real exposure to vampire lore. I later went on to read Anne Rice's Interview With a Vampire and a couple of the sequels and in recent years I finally read Bram Stokers Dracula and the Sookie Stackhouse series. I've successfully avoided those sparkly vampires from Washington. ‘Salem’s Lot has always remained the scariest of the vampire stories in my mind.
The thing about 'Salem's Lot that's different from those other stories is that in the others the vampire story is peripheral to the setting. The majority of society goes on and lives their lives and the vampires do their thing while only directly impacting a small portion of the general population. In 'Salem's Lot the whole town is destroyed in a matter of days after the arrival of Barlow. Only a handful of people get away successfully. The evil is able to devour the town because everyone knows everyone. The friend and family connections make the town that much more vulnerable and allow the evil to take over. That’s the part that is still so darn scary to me. The stronger the personal connection the more vulnerable the potential victim.
I enjoyed reading King’s introduction and afterward in this edition. I also read and enjoyed both of the short stories. One for the Road takes place a few years after the events of the novel and this one made me shiver all over again. An out of towner gets his car stranded in a blizzard just outside of Jerusalem’s lot and doesn't understand the reluctance of the locals to help him get the wife and daughter he left in the car.
The other short story Jerusalem’s Lot takes place in 1850 and gives a slightly different history than the novel but still just as creepy and scary.
I kind of skimmed through the section of deleted scenes. I figured if they were deleted it was probably for good reason and frankly I wasn't that interested in them.
The illustrations are odd and slightly creepy black and white photographs but they really have nothing to do with the story. If you’re a Stephen King fan I’d recommend reading this edition for the introduction and the two short stories but the rest of the added features just aren't that fabulous.