As October rolls into the home stretch, I can’t help but review yet another book by Stephen King. I think that Pet Sematary is one of his absolute best. Many of the issues in the book resonate more deeply with me now that I am a father. I love this book. I even thought the movie was okay, something that is usually not the case with King’s film adaptations. But let’s get down to it. What is the book about?
Pet Sematary Summary
The story is set in Maine like many of King’s horror stories. Louis Creed is a doctor with a good job, a lovely wife, a fine little son, and a cat. After moving in he becomes acquaintances, and then friends, with the elderly gent who lives next door: Jud. Like most old men in Stephen King fiction, he is a fount of knowledge if you’re wondering about the history of the town–including the property that Louis lives on. During a hike through the woods, Jud shows them the Pet Sematary (the misspelling is on a sign).
Things go along more or less swimmingly, with the exception of a traumatic death at the doctor’s office where creed works. But then the family cat gets run over. Jud takes Louis up to the cemetery to bury the pet, but then has a change of heart and they proceed to the real cemetery of the story.
Wouldn’t you know it? There’s always an Indian burial ground just around the corner, waiting to be desecrated and stir up all sorts of unholy horror. It turns out that the burial ground has a special property: anything dead that gets buried there comes back to life. This is revealed in one of the book’s best parts–Jud tells Louis about a time when a dead man walked into town after being interred up there. But he came back very different. Changed.
After burying the cat, things get set in motion which I can’t go into without spoiling. This is a book about death, families, and the lengths we would go to to keep them with us. The final 50 pages are vintage King, with some great scares and a building sense of dread that sets this book apart from so many of his others.
Some of it is silly, and the things that make me groan about Stephen, whom I have nothing but love for, are all present here in some form. But if you’re looking for a scary story to read this Halloween, you could do much worse than Pet Sematary.
Also, if you’re a fan of his writing, I have written up a list of Stephen King novels and other books, with brief reviews of each.