Maine And Stephen King’s Horror Novels

We’ve all heard of Derry and Castle Rock, but where are these fictitious horror hubs located in real life? Let’s explore the real locations behind Stephen King’s horror novel universe, in the great state of Maine.

Stephen King Novels
Stephen King Novels via @sarahsspookyreads on Instagram

The first Stephen King novel I picked up was Carrie. Classic of classics in the horror realm, I still regard that novel as one of the best reader’s decisions I’ve made. If you’re a fellow horror-junkie, it’s likely that you’re familiar with King’s work, and in my humble opinion he’s just that: the king of horror. With an extensive bibliography of iconic novels, from apocalyptic masterpieces like The Stand to hard hitting novellas like The Body, much of King’s work shares a common geographical denominator: the state of Maine.

Mount Hope Cemetery Bangor
Mount Hope Cemetery Bangor via @roxiezw on Instagram

While Stephen King’s works have included a wide scale of United States hotspots, from Boulder, Colorado in The Shining to Las Vegas, Nevada in The Stand; the author’s stories revolve largely around two infamously fictitious towns in Maine: Derry, and Castle Rock. A Maine native himself, King has drawn much of the striking imagery and insightfully detailed topography of both Castle Rock and Derry from his own life. Let’s dive into the real-world locations that have inspired these fictional horror-powerhouse settings, starting with Castle Rock.

Durham, Maine
Durham, Maine via @gbainesmainephotos on Instagram

With a name derived from the fictional mountain fort in William Goulding’s Lord of the Flies, Castle Rock is the chief setting in a number of King’s most popular novels, including but not limited to: Cujo, Needful Things, The Body, and The Dead Zone. Existing within the same fictional universe, many of King’s characters native to Castle Rock are interspersed throughout his different novels, fleshing out the town as foundational in a number of narratives that flirt with one another and stand on their own simultaneously.

Based on cross references between the novels, Castle Rock may be inferred as being located within 40 miles of Portland, Maine. This region includes towns such as Bridgton, Lewiston, and Durham – King’s hometown. A small New England mill town, Castle Rock is depicted as akin to Durham and its close-surrounding neighbors in both geography and atmosphere. Durham’s winding roads, barn-speckled hills and quiet rural ambiance transform into traits of Castle Rock that serve as the backdrop for a plethora of supernatural and paranormal events that drive and underscore King’s narratives. It is a matter of imagination at its purest, at its darkest. Is the barn simply abandoned? Or is it haunted? I’ll leave you to decide.

Bangor Maine River
Bangor Maine River via @sarahkathleenc on Instagram

Following the publication of his first two popular novels, Carrie and ‘Salem’s Lot, King relocated to Bangor, which is Maine’s third largest city and the very city that inspired Derry, notable setting of the epic horror novel It. Similarly to Castle Rock, Derry functions as the primary and partial setting of multiple novels written by King, including It, 11/22/63, and Insomnia, though It mirrors contemporary Bangor closest.

Landmarks from the novel, such as The Standpipe (in actuality, the Thomas Hill Standpipe) and the 31 foot tall Paul Bunyan statue that stands before the Bangor Civic Center. It fans will recognize these landmarks as the places Stanley Uris and Richie Tozier first encounter Pennywise in the novel. To browse the streets of Bangor, a city of hybrid for its commercial and suburban atmospheres, is to walk the streets of Derry just as the protagonists of It do in both their youth and adulthood. By injecting the reality of his surroundings into his work, King creates a fictional universe in which readers can visit and immerse themselves in the narrative landscape through travel to Maine. Ripe with antique shops, a variety of cuisine, and bookstores with plentiful horror sections; Bangor is the perfect travel destination for the modern reader. King’s former house turned archive of his work still stands in Bangor, victorian and imposing for fans to visit today. Don’t hesitate to book a flight to Bangor International. That is, unless you’re scared!

Stephen King's House


Stephen King and Maine
FACEBOOK Stephen King – writer

The connection between Maine and the horror novel has been fostered largely in part due to King’s literary work, as well as in the media depictions of his notorious horror narratives. There’s more to Maine than horror, however, from Acadia National Park and its breathtaking trail views, to the vibrantly lively locale of Bar Harbor. Maine has heart, Stephen King would know.

Juliana Riedman

Contributing Editor

A South shore Long Island Native, Juliana is scarcely seen without a book in hand. Whether on a plane or at the beach, her passion for reading is rivaled only by her drive to explore. From museum-hopping, coastal hiking to curling up with her cat; she is always seeking her next adventure - and her next good read.

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