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Summary

A superb novel set in classic Stephen King territory - a small new England town about to be engulfed by terror.

Turn off the television - in fact, why don't you turn off all the lights except for the one over your favourite chair? - and we'll talk about vampires here in the dim. I think I can make you believe in them.

Stephen King, from the introduction. Salem's Lot is a small New England town with the usual quota of gossips, drinkers, weirdos and respectable folk. Of course there are tales of strange happenings - but not more than in any other town its size.

Ben Mears, a moderately successful writer, returns to the Lot to write a novel based on his early years, and to exorcise the terrors that have haunted him since childhood. The event he witnessed in the house now rented by a new resident. A newcomer with a strange allure. A man who causes Ben some unease as things start to happen: a child disappears, a dog is brutally killed - nothing unusual, except the list starts to grow.

Soon surprise will turn to bewilderment, bewilderment to confusion and finally to terror....

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©1975 Stephen King (P)2004 Simon and Schuster Inc.

Critic reviews

"An incredibly gifted writer." ( Guardian)

What listeners say about 'Salem's Lot

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Forgot just how good he is!

I read Salem's Lot many years ago and I'm not sure what made me go back but I am so glad I did. I had forgotten just how good Stephen King can be.

King's tale of a small town which, with more than a little help from an ancient vampire, turns bad very quickly is absolutely everything you could wish from an audiobook. Rather than leaping in the story builds slowly, fleshing out characters and making you care about the cost of the battle. It is read with feeling and intelligence.

As with all really great stories, when it was finished I felt as if I had lost a friend. Highly recommended!

32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping vivid horror story

What a great story teller Stephen King is. The way he weaves stories of every day small town life into a gradually ramped up tale of genuine horror and shock is simply brilliant. Literally unputdownable (or whatever the right word is for an audiobook!) - you'll find yourself extending your journey home or the dog will get an extra walk just so you can finish the story. Narration is perfectly judged too - really adds to the book.

a five star listen by any yardstick - strongly recommended.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Still one of my favorite listens.

This was one of my first downloads from Audible, and even some years later it remains one of my favorites. It's one of Stephen King's earlier books I think, maybe the first one that dealt with a whole town of characters rather than just a few isolated ones. King really excels in this kind of book, he has a real gift for creating a small town, filling it with characters, and making each one as real and as detailed as the protaganist, often with much less space to do so. It's not perhaps very scary or overly bloody, but there's a real sense of mounting panic and struggling against overwhelming odds that makes the eventual payoff of the final confrontation even more satisfying. In so many ways it's a conscious retelling of Bram Stoker's Dracula, transplanted into a 1970s American small town, as King talks about in his introduction. I particulary like Ron McLarty's narration, which can go from warm and comfortable to solemn and chilling very effectively and quickly.

If you liked this, you may want to try some of Stephen King's other small community novels - Under the Dome is particularly good in this respect as it has a more detestible cast of villains than Salem's Lot.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good

I liked this book. The gruesome bits are written in a dark and slightly humorous way and the characters are - well - full of character! It's not that scary - but I don't think it's really trying to be.

There's a real attention to detail and a you just know you're listening to someone who's been writing for years. He uses content that a lot of other writers avoid and it adds realism to everything.

I wasn't blown away but I did really enjoy it.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Get your garlic!

I was totally traumatised by the 70s TV version of this with David Soul - I couldn't sleep next to a window incase the vampires scratched on it at night!!! Being older and wiser, I thought I'd be much braver listening to the audiobook, but let me assure you, it's JUST AS SCARY!!!

A writer arrives back at his childhood home, trying to reconcile a phobia of the local haunted house. The new owner of said haunted house is opening an antique shop with a mysteriously absent partner. A child goes missing and things pretty much go downhill from there, family illnesses, gutted dogs and death. Gah, listen in the daytime!

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

One of Steven King's best.

This stands as one of the best books I've listened to so far. The narrator did a great job and really read each character well.
I'd recommend it if you are a fan of King, Horror, Vampires or even just good books.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A great reading of a great book

This is one of my favorite books and now one of my favorite audiobooks. The narration is just brilliant. Fantastic stuff.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A classic must listen!

A true classic. if you've not read it yet then give yourself a treat and add this one to your collection. You can pretty much rely on King to supply outstanding entertainment and this is one of his early best. Highly recommended. Guarantee you'll not want it to end but when it does its like losing a friend.

4 people found this helpful

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Painfully Drawn Out

Taking advantage of the Audible sale on Stephen King titles of late, I concluded with the classic Salem's Lot. Thinking about it now, this was my first ever horror genre title I'd read and so was hopeful of something to send a chill up my spine and also being a riveting read. Sadly, neither of these was true of this book for me. I've read a few King books and felt that Salem's Lot would be a fairly safe bet given the fact it had been brought to the small screen some years back but I can see that after my similarly disappointing experience of Christine that this book fell well short of my most elementary expectations.

Now, King is indeed an excellent author and I very much liked the other books I've read like The Stand, Under The Dome and 11-22-63. However, it appears to me that both Salem's Lot and Christine suffer from the same problem which is that they are far too slow. King has always been a master of painting a vivid picture of a small American town replete with a multitude of diverse and believable characters but Salem's Lot spends hundreds of pages painting this picture and one might almost forget that there is supposed to be a vampire story lurking somewhere within. it seemed to me at times as if Salem's Lot was more a sort of Big Brother type story where we see into the lives of various people without a great deal of purpose or content to it other than for its own benefit. Of course, building the scene and setting the stage is an important part of a good novel but King draws this out in a painfully slow way and it felt to me as if more than half the book was spent doing this with very little else of any real interest going on. Sure, there are little events which sprinkle the first half of the book but these are few and very far between and in my case were just about enough to keep me from driving a stake into the heart of this book and quitting it. King spends so much time on lengthy dialogue that does very little to drive the narrative other than to slow and clutter it. As an example, there is a burial scene for the first victim and we are treated to the priests near verbatim prayers over the coffin. This just seems unnecessary to me and drags the whole scene out. We are also forced to endure pages of mostly irrelevant self reflection from Father Callahan during his prolonged reverie which although some might say reveals the inner man, I would argue could've been edited down somewhat and the reader would've still gotten the essentials of his character. page after page rolls by with not very much of real interest and central to the plot going on. This is sometimes made worse and drawn out further by flowery or dreamy prose that just seemed like padding to me and didn't add much at all other than the sense that this was a very long read.

It seems to me from King's later books that he refined and improved his story telling skills by weaving more events of interest into the character development that he does so well and given that Salem's Lot and Christine are both of a similar vintage, I suspect this might well be the case. I have to wonder today whether a publisher would heavily edit down this book if it were being published now.

Rather oddly, in King's foreword to Salem's Lot, he explains that he wanted his vampires to rip and tear at their victims instead of a gentle neck bite and yet King shies away from delivering any such thing as I recall and pulls away just before the bite in each of the sparse attack scenes and leaves the rest to the readers imagination. It's like a "soft" horror flick aimed for the under 15's back in the 70's when the fatal bite was never actually seen and all we saw was the preamble to the attack before the camera switched scenes. This is exactly what king does here and so when we finally do reach a victim scene, the poor reader is robbed of the very long wait they have endured prior to that point.

King is clearly skilled at the "slow build" and especially at creating an entire and believable community but this is what the vast majority of this book is given over to sadly. Perhaps it's just me in that I always found the whole vampire horror genre to be somewhat silly and far more style than content and this is how I'd sum up Salem's Lot I'm afraid.

Things do pick up a pace in the final stages of this book but I would liken this story to a rollercoaster that takes an absolute age to climb to the top and once there the ride is short and disappointing.

A word on the narration; A great and competent job is done of this and the voice is spot on if rather like that best suited to a 30's detective novel at times. In the latter stages of the book I found his delivery took on either a dreamy quality which added to the often flowery prose which served to make me feel sleepy or perhaps it was just the narrator feeling so bored by the whole thing that he found it hard to stay awake!

A harsh review perhaps but I just had to call it how I saw it. This may be a king novel but it is, in my opinion, far from his best. It's as if he worked too hard on creating atmosphere and ended up drawing it painfully out.

This is not a book I'll want to ever read again unlike the cited examples of his better stories above and I will consign this one into its own coffin and bury it.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Greatest Vampire story ever told

Atmospheric character driven tale of how when a great evil descends without warning or mercy on a small America town a few good people decide to make a stand and fight back.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennifer Woods
  • 28-02-10

A great listen

This classic story is written in typical Stephen King style and holds your interest throughout with an excellent ending. Narration is very well done also.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 29-07-09

Great Story

A great read from start to finish. Easily able to "see" the story unfold with Stephen Kings discriptive writing. Loved it.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Cory
  • 30-01-22

Good Story, but plot was hard to follow at times

I didn't feel as captivated by this story as usual, probably because there seemed to be several main characters and it took a while for the plot to thicken/come together. It was a unique story, which is why I felt compelled to read from beginning to end. The imagery was good and once it picked up it was intriguing. Not one of my favourite Stephen King books but definitely don't regret reading it.

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  • Leslie
  • 12-11-21

Superb writing!

This had me looking out the windows with dread everytime I go out in the middle of the night to use the bathroom

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-10-21

King’s Quiet Masterpiece

Easily one of Kings strongest titles. Featuring a bit more creativity and experimentation due to being so early in his career. The Lot is such a fresh experience as both a fan of King and also in the overly gore orientated horror landscape of today. The Lot is a beautifully dark and atmospherically oppressive story about the death of a town and those that stand against it. Shorter than much of his work and an solute joy from start to finish.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Asadi
  • 12-11-18

king's work in two words... American Dracula

Ron McLartys narrration of Salem's lot is great and creepy as king's writing...go for it!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joanne S.
  • 23-05-14

Gripping

If you could sum up Salem's Lot in three words, what would they be?

Well written horror.

What did you like best about this story?

The way it was written, the detail, I felt like I was there.

Have you listened to any of Ron McLarty’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have listened to other books, and Ron McLarty is excellent, the different voices he used, I was totally involved in the story.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was scared, I couldn't listen to the book late at night!

Any additional comments?

Highly recommend for the avid horror fan. A classic Stephen King at his best.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Todd
  • 18-02-13

Suprisingly decent read, if a little unoriginal

Stephen King's take on vampires was a surprising read. He uses all the classic elements of vampire lore, rather than invent his own (sunlight, wooden stakes, holy water etc.). He does however put his unique spin on it and coupled with McLarty's narration, the book ends up being a fun read.

There is nothing truly original here, but it is a worthwhile story for fans of King that was written in his early days.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ray
  • 07-12-12

My 1st Stephen King! - Didn't disappoint!

Although the title was well known to me, for some unknown reason I had never read the book. Having enjoyed Dracula so much, I picked Salem's Lot as the entry point to Stephen King's writing.
I really enjoyed the story & the performance! I will be trying more of this Author's offerings.