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Salem's Lot was the first Stephen King novel I read, and remains among my favorite of his works. It's also one of my favorite vampire novels in general. Starting with small details and a vague sense of dread, it builds until the plague of vampires appears to be overwhelming. King's gifts for establishing a sense of place really shine here; the opening nightmares that Ben Mears has about the Marsten House were sufficiently unnerving to make me turn all the lights on, and even the fleeting details about the community of 'Salem's Lot [including throwaway references to the skeleton in somebody's well] combine to make me feel I know the place - and to sweat all the more as it begins to fall apart.
[There's a TV Tropes page on the book and its screen adaptations. So far none of the adaptations have quite matched the book for me, though I did enjoy some elements of the 1979 mini-series.]
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