Moving right along in my quest with Heather to read all of Stephen King’s work in order of publication, this weekend we tackled ‘Salem’s Lot. Well, we started it Sunday, and gave ourselves til Friday to finish, but I am going to do something I rarely do and attempt to talk about a book I just finished moments ago.
Literally, moments. Of course, by the time you’re reading this, it will have been hours, BUT MY POINT STILL STANDS.
Anyway, ‘Salem’s Lot was one of the books I kind of dreaded re-reading going into this thing. I read it for the first time in junior high and a second time about 10 years ago (much like with Carrie), but haven’t felt the need to read it more than that (unlike some of Stephen King’s other work, which I have read and re-read so many times I can’t even begin to give an accurate count). Those two previous readings indicate that I read it because it was Stephen King, but didn’t find it worthy of being added to the “pick this up whenever I need something familiar and comfortable” list.
I went into it expecting to either hate it outright and put it down, failing our quest outright at the beginning, or to end up skimming it and therefore only PARTIALLY fulfilling the quest.
Neither of those things happened.
I read it quickly, and while it still hasn’t been added to the list of things I actually like, I can kind of see its appeal.
I think part of the reason I kept reading this time was because I was connecting dots in my head. Having read nearly everything he’s written (except a few of the newer things), I was able to see how ideas from this book were later used in other stories.
The first/longest part (the aptly named Part One) very much put me in mind of Needful Things, which I read shortly after reading this for the first time and HAVE re-read more than once. As I said in a goodreads update:
|16.0%||“I think I realized why I’ve never been able to get into this book. A lot of it was recycled for Needful Things, and anything with Flagg is way better than anything without him. (I would have cleverly turned that into an equation if my nook supported GREATER THAN SYMBOLS)”|
(Click that link up there with Flagg’s name to see my post at Insatiable Booksluts regarding my undying love for Randall Flagg.)
This book has no Flagg. This book was before Flagg, so there weren’t any clues for me to interpret and it still bums me out.
Of course, being a grown woman with all of the Dark Tower at her fingertips, I know that at the end of this book we haven’t seen the last of Father Callahan, and so I can appreciate that it ties into Mid-World on another level…but ‘Salem’s Lot still isn’t as great or as scary (to me) as so many people seem to make it out to be.
For me, this book is kind of important in that it’s still paving the way for his later – MORE important – work, but on its own…I don’t know. Maybe if you’re frightened of the things that go bump in the night, you’ll appreciate it more than I did, but if not, it’s…not all that great.
I can accept that maybe it’s because I’m still at a point in my life where I don’t much care for Stoker’s Dracula, and this is supposed to be a modernized retelling. I can also accept that I’m in the minority on this one, and realize that I’m not going to change anyone’s mind. That’s cool. I don’t have to change your mind, I just have to know my own. And my mind is telling me this one isn’t worth more than 2.5 stars, three if I’m rounding up. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either.
The most chilling parts are (as always with King’s work) the parts involving children. Those are genuinely sad and even somewhat scary on their own. Other than that, it’s easy to tell that he was still finding his voice here.
All right, guys. Let me have it in the comments. Tell me why I’m wrong.