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Salem’s Lot (Audio Book)

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Audio book version by Hodder Headline Limited, 2008 (Unabridged)

Narrated by Ron McLarty. Duration: 17h36m. Size: 248mb. 15 chapters.


Earlier this year, I decided to give Stephen King another shot because with the sole exception of Needful Things and some collections of short stories, I’d never read any books by mister King. I’d started several, but have always given up before the story enthralled me sufficiently to continue. Once again with Salem’s Lot, I found getting past the first dozen or so chapters to be a challenge. I persisted somewhat beyond my normal tolerance for slow-moving stories and I’d read about a third of the book before giving up, impatient to get to something remotely frightening or supernatural. Although I could tell it was going to get there eventually, I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest the time it would take to feel the hairs prickling on the back of my neck. A couple of weeks later, after ripping thorough a book by another horror writer, I recalled that a few years ago I’d bought the audio version of Salem’s Lot (on Audible) and decided to give the story another whirl via that medium.

This is something I generally enjoy while driving or traveling on public transport, earplugs in, lost to the horrors going on in the real world to those of the story, inevitably far more fantastic yet mildly reassuring in their fantatiscism. So, I fired it up on my phone and decided to do it justice, I decided to start listening to the story from the beginning as I’d had trouble absorbing all the details I’d previously read and was immediately drawn more deeply into the story, and into the town and the people of ’Salem.

As far as retelling the Bram Stoker legend goes — King references Dracula several times during the story — Salem’s Lot presents a spine-chilling modernization with obvious similarities and many differences, nuances, little touches of humanity mixed with horror that make it contemporary and as equally believable as the story of Dracula that has become so embedded in our culture it is frequently parodied and ridiculed to the point of being pantomime and childish. There were times when I wished the story would shift up a gear, but I’m glad it didn’t and I may even listen to it again, or try one of the other King novels I’d previously closed my ears to.

Following an introduction by King himself, the narrator’s voice was well suited to the tone and timbre King had set and was a voice I felt I could listen to for over 17 hours, the length of the audio book. I won’t give spoilers here, apart from to say that the investment required in getting to know the fictitious town of Jerusalem’s Lot; the names of its streets; its schools and churches; its potentates and its shopkeepers, was time well spent. It relates through the eyes of a small number of protagonists a story of human tragedy; of bravery, hope, beliefs, self-awareness, and all their opposites. The reward is to be reaped far later in the book, as you might expect, when some of The Lot’s residents become subject to various incidents. I offer no spoilers, but there are times the story reveals things that you may be appalled by, its revelation being more impactful by having got to know some of town people and their ways, in places you can almost visualize, having visited that family home, or church, or other location earlier in the story, perhaps several times. To paraphrase one of the characters in the story, “I’m not doing this for you, or me, but for the town itself.

The tale is definitely a slow-burner which leads to a dramatic climax and perhaps, like many good horror stories, an even more frightening epilogue that left me wondering… what happens next? I believe there was a movie sequel that bombed, but I would read a sequel by King, or perhaps an anthology of short stories by Salem’s Lot aficionados that explore different “what if” scenarios…

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User Rating 3.38 (16 votes)

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