Reading Salem’s Lot two things really stuck out to me.
One, I was really surprised that Mr. King stuck so closely to the traditional vampire lore. Holy water, no reflection, sunlight, etc. My surprise was lessened by the afterward where he describes his love of Bram Stroker’s Dracula and his desire to combine the elegant Dracula with the more gruesome vampires of the horror comics he read as a child. But even so I would have expected him to make the villain more something of a hybrid between the myth and his own creation.
I do think he did a great job of bringing the Vampire into the modern world and showing how a monster of this sort could infiltrate a small community with almost no one taking notice.
The second thing is not a surprise at all but one of the things I enjoy the most about Mr. King’s books. The good guys do not always win and when they do sometimes they wish they hadn’t. His hero’s are ordinary people who do battle with extraordinary evil. They go to war and they come out damaged and scared. There are no parades and they are just as likely to be condemned as they are to be celebrated. Even after they have “won” they have to live with the horrors they have witnessed for the rest of their lives, if they make it out alive.
In my humble opinion Mr King’s greatest gift as a story teller is his ability to put ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and take us along for the ride as these characters deal with their own faults and insecurities. We can see ourselves, our lived ones and our neighbors in his characters and even though the the story is about telekinesis, vampires, werewolves, aliens, ghosts or even a possessed car the actions of these characters ring true.
As for Salem’s Lot it is not one of my favorite King novels but it is still a damn fine book and I’m glad I took the time to read it again. Now on to “The Shining”