Review: "'Salem's Lot: Illustrated Edition" by Stephen King

'Salem's Lot Illustrated EditionTo commemorate the 30th anniversary of the publication of Stephen King's classic horror novel 'Salem's Lot, Doubleday is publishing a new edition of the book in hardcover that includes black-and-white illustrations, a new introduction, fifty pages of additional material deleted from the original manuscript, and two short stories related to events in the novel.

For those of you who haven't read King's second published novel, it's a particularly creepy vampire story set in Jerusalem's Lot, a small town in Maine, a state which—according to some people I know who've lived there—can be pretty creepy itself.

'Salem's Lot, according to King, was meant to be his Dracula. Ben Mears, a writer (and obvious stand-in for the author), returns to his hometown to write about the Marsten House, a creepy old place that was the site of tragic episodes. Ben and some of the other inhabitants of the town—like many of King's books, this one features a sizeable cast of characters—discover that the chief resident of the house, Barlow, is a vampire that is slowly infecting the townspeople. That's when a desperate battle for the souls of the residents begins.

Those of you who've read the novel and already own copy are probably wondering whether it's worth shelling out thirty-five dollars for a premium hardcover with additional material. In my opinion, this one is worth the price for several reasons. The introduction, alternate/deleted scenes, and short stories are a treat (though the stories—"One for the Road" and "Jerusalem's Lot"— were previously published in Night Shift). 'Salem's Lot was fairly massive to begin with, but for those of us who love King's fiction it's simply an embarrassment of riches.

Second, the quality of the edition is superb. It's gorgeously printed, beautifully designed, and Jerry Uelsmann's black-and-white photos peppered throughout add considerable atmosphere. I was unhappy with the pulpy illustrations included in my edition of The Gunslinger, but these photos complement King's text beautifully. They come from a special limited edition of the book that Centipede Press published in 2004, but for those of us who don't want to wrestle a copy of that from the cold, dead hands of another King fan—which is probably the only way that any of those 900 book owners would relinquish their copy—this new Doubleday edition represents an excellent addition to a King fan's library. Or, for that matter, for anyone who loves a good vampire story.

'Salem's Lot Illustrated Edition
Published by: Doubleday (November 1, 2005)
ISBN: 0385516487
Genre: contemporary vampire novel

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