There was a time once when vampires were ruthless predators and not the misunderstood brooding and essentially harmless creatures. Ahhhh, good old scary times... Vampire stories have been around for a long time - after all, people love a good scare, and what is more terrifying than a monster showing up at night and sucking the life essence out of you? But leave it to Stephen King to turn the terror up a notch, add a whole new layer to it. How? Simply - using the winning formula that he continues to employ in the vast majority of his work. In addition to showing us the monsters of the night, he also brings into the picture the monsters and the darkness that are already with us, that live in the deep dark recesses of everyone's soul. ""The town knew about darkness.""The town has its secrets, and keeps them well.""The town cares for devil's work no more than it cares for God's or man's. It knew darkness. And darkness was enough."The eponymous 'Salem's Lot is a small town in Maine, and it is not a stranger to secrets and darkness. It's quaint and pastoral on the surface, but once you look deeper you are bound to discover what lurks behind its respectable surface. And trust me, that's the discoveries that you can easily go without for the darkness of the human soul as presented by Stephen King beats everything that any monster or boogeyman can ever send your way. The small town of 'Salem's Lot can boast your usual lies, bullying, corruption, and prejudice - and spices it up with well-hidden child abuse, violence, and murders. Not so quaint, is it? It is this portrayal of everyday people's secrets, of the towns being almost like living breathing organisms that is one of the big reasons why I am a huge fan of Stephen King's works.From the very first pages of the novel we know that some terrible fate made 'Salem's Lot a ghost town with apparently only a couple of survivors. It doesn't take the reader long to realize, as we go back in time to see how the events unfolded, that the mysterious menacing Marsten House welcomed new evil that tends to lurk at night, floating past your (hopefully, tightly shut) windows. The story itself is rather straightforward, steadily moving along to its almost-conclusion that we have glimpsed in the first few pages, and we watch with bated breath as our bunch of good guys - Ben, Mark, Susan, Matt - are trying to take on the supernatural horror. Oh, and did I forget Father Callahan? A high-five from the Dark Tower universe, Father!King is excellent with the plotting and the pacing (since this was only his second novel, he was still a stranger to writing larger-than-life brick-sized tomes). The story never lags, the suspense and sense of foreboding are rampant, and there are quite a few truly nailbiting situations. Nothing distracts the reader from the vampire story unfolding on the background of small-town horrors. There are no heavy-handed lessons to be learned, no deep morals to take out of the story - all we get is a thrilling and quite scary ride that may make you (a) sleep with a light on, and (b) be very careful about who you invite into your home. 5 stars.