Unlike the Fellowship of the Worm‘s fearless leader, I am not a Stephen King n00b. I’ve been reading his books since I was in fifth grade (I started with It and moved on to The Stand, much to my reading teacher’s horror, pun intended). I guess I was lucky in that way. My family chose not to discourage my choices in reading material, and my father was always ready to buy whatever book took my fancy. I think this is key to encouraging a love a reading: Don’t judge or limit the reading material. Yes, I was reading adult horror fiction before I really understood some of its nuances, but it left me hungry for all sorts of books. Encouraging the love of any reading, will allow a child to feel free to love even the classics we are more or less forced to read. To this day, I still love Joseph Conrad just as much as I enjoy Stephen King. But, I had never actually read ‘Salem’s Lot. Anyway, here are my answers to this month’s questions. And don’t forget to check the Words for Worms post for the opinions of others.
1. Was this book as frightening as you anticipated?
I was not frightened at all. Perhaps it is because I’ve actually read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which is the source material for much of the lore of the book. Or maybe it’s because to me, books are just not ever terrifying. Now is the television adaptation of It still the scariest thing I’ve ever seen? Yes. And that’s the difference for me: Books offer just enough distance and lack of visuals that I can’t really be scared the way movies/TV shows can scare me. But I still love them.
2. Did you have any nightmares while reading ‘Salem’s Lot?
Nope. I had a dream about having to rid vampires of from a government building that might have been a library, but it wasn’t a nightmare at all. Even though King has a wonderful ability to paint a word picture, my psyche really needs actual visuals for them to get stuck in my brain enough to scare me. For example, when I read It, the shower scene was scary, but not prohibitively so. When I saw the television adaptation, I had an irrational fear of gym locker room showers that followed me most of my school life. And I’ve had nightmares about that movie even now. That’s just the way my brain works, I guess.
3. What’s your favorite part of vampire lore that was incorporated into ‘Salem’s Lot?
I’ve always been fascinated by the ability of vampires to mesmerize their victims. Much of the other tools we mortals have to battle the forces of darkness are useless of one glance into a vampire’s eyes is all it takes for them to talk you into letting them into your home and breaking your cross in half. How can we even hope to survive against that? It’s the willpower of the mortal that faces the temptation and forces themselves to look away, of course, that sets the heroic apart from the weak. In this way, even a “helpless” pre-teen can become the hero, despite his otherwise unassuming appearance.
4. Young Mark Petrie’s parents dismiss the warnings from Ben, Dr. Cody, and Father Callahan as hokum. How long do you think it would take YOU to believe a vampire apocalypse was taking place? If this weird crew showed up at your house, how would you react?
Are you kidding me? I grew up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles. I would have no problem believing such a thing could happen. I’d even be first in line to start sharpening stakes.
5. Alright Bookworms, what’s the overall verdict on this one? What did you think, all-in-all?
While it was an enjoyable retelling of the classic Dracula tale, it’s not my favorite Stephen King novel (that honor goes to The Stand). However, being a big fan of The Dark Tower series, it was interesting to finally get the background about Father Callahan, who ends up appearing in Calla Bryn Sturgis and being instrumental in Roland’s quest. As a vampire book, it’s rather repetitive. However, King has always been enjoyable to read just because his word choice is just incredible.