10. ‘Salem’s Lot (1975)
“They’re in those houses. Right now, in all those houses. Behind the shades. In beds and closets and cellars. Under the floors. Hiding.”
‘Salem’s Lot’ is a classic vampire story made real. A lot of King’s work is like that. Legends and old ideas which sound silly until he writes them and you read them all alone at night with the wind screaming outside. I particularly like the prequel and sequel which he included in his collection of short stories, ‘Night Shift’.
The prequel draws a lot from Lovecraft, in particular ‘The Rats in the Walls’, and gives a history to the novel, not quite an explanation but a lot of back story. The sequel on the other hand tells us what the epilogue to the novel does not and is one of the most disquieting stories I’ve read. The novel itself is terrifying because there is never a moment when everyone knows that vampires are taking over their town. There is no last stand by the townspeople; they’re just slowly gotten one-by-one. It’s gradual and insidious and all the more frightening for it.