Title: Pet Sematary
Author: Stephen King
No. of Pages: 576
Origins: Mine. All mine.
Release Date: 14 November 1983
“When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son — and now an idyllic home. As a family, they’ve got it all…right down to the friendly cat.
But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth — more terrifying than death itself…and hideously more powerful.”
Thoughts: Stephen King writes amazing stories. He specializes in delving into the human psyche and challenging readers to accept the unimaginable. More importantly, under his pen, that unimaginable quality becomes perfectly plausible, which only compounds one’s terror. After all, there are several generations of readers who steer clear of clowns and sewer drains because of what Mr. King did with them in his novel, It. Pet Sematary by Stephen King is no different in that it is a blood-curdling novel in which the very thing at which one should scoff at its ridiculousness becomes the thing of a reader’s nightmares. That it diverts down a path one might not expect based on its title and cover is a surprise but does nothing to minimize a reader’s terror or one’s appreciation for an entertaining story.
As always, Mr. King knows how to create well-executed, complex, realistic, and empathetic characters around which his horror stories revolve. In Louis Creed, he creates a young father who cares deeply for his family. His approach to life is rational, and he tends to overanalyze situations before acting. He is not afraid to show readers his parenting frustrations in addition to those parenting perks which negate them. He is relatable and honest, which only makes the horror he later experiences that much more tragic.
Another aspect of Mr. King’s books that he does so well is to create situations which sit in the shadowy grey area between right and wrong. A reader instinctively envisions being in Louis’ shoes, faced with the same tragic decisions and terrible consequences, for which readers are utterly incapable of making different choices. This grounds the story more firmly to the realistic and deliberately counters the fantastic elements of his stories.
Unlike some of Mr. King’s other novels, one finishes reading Pet Sematary with many questions. First off, he never explains the mysterious power in the forest. There are many hints and even mentions of certain supernatural figures, but they are nothing more than mentions with no clear definitions or explanations. Similarly, the rules of the Pet Sematary remain frustratingly vague. One is not even certain of the rules long after Louis stumbles down that particular path. Also, there is an emphasis on spirals which seem important enough to garner multiple mentions but again without any satisfactory answers.
Because there are so many open-ended scenarios, one cannot help but wonder if Mr. King intended to write a sequel. There are certainly enough unanswered questions to warrant one. Then again, the fact that the rest of Louis’ story is entirely up to the reader to determine only creates a more horrifying story. The very thing which can and does frustrate a reader can and does help Pet Sematary live up to its title as one of Mr. King’s scariest novels of all time.