“When I’m asked (as I frequently am) what I consider to be the most frightening book I’ve ever written, the answer I give comes easily and with no hesitation: Pet Sematary.”-SK
Okay, this book is a classic. Ask anyone about it. But you’re perhaps more apt to hear them talk about the film adaptation than the novel. I guess that’s fair because we’re a society that watches more TV and internet than reading. Although the movie is really good, the novel has a certain dread to it; a somberness if you will. And no matter how many times you read this work it never fails to bring you that aforementioned dread.
Anyways, Pet Sematary is a bonafide King classic. He hasn’t written anything quite like it since. As far as King’s work goes, this is the scariest novel he’s written to date. I think what makes this novel frightening and unsettling is that King hits hard on every parent’s worst fear: The death of a child. At its core, that’s what this book is about and how those affected in the aftermath deal emotionally. Unfortunately we all know how Louis deals…
Pet Sematary has so many elements within it, it makes for a chiller of a book. Engaging plot? Check. A mysterious and powerful parcel of land that can resurrect the dead? Check. Dead animals and people coming back from the dead when buried in said parcel of land? Check. A decimated and broken family both physically and emotionally? Check again. Creepy scenes? Check and double check.
So why does Pet Sematary work?
- Pet Sematary works because it deals with mortality. Of course a number his works do but in Pet Sematary that was the main focus. And King posed a profound question to his Constant Readers: If a loved one died and you had a way to bring them back, would you? I think some of us out there would consider it depending on the circumstances. Pet Sematary is an existential journey where we have to ask ourselves, ‘would we do something like what Louis did’?
- Pet Sematary works because King wrote two of the best chiller scenes I’ve read from him in a long time. Both of them involved Louis going to the Micmac burying grounds. The first time he was carrying Church in a bag with Jud. The next time he was carrying Gage through the seemingly Wendigo haunted forest. Those scenes chilled me and I haven’t been spooked like that in a long time. I wonder if reading those scenes late at night alone had anything to do with that?
- Pet Sematary works because death is working OT and each death deepens the novel. You get the story of Zelda’s death, you get Victor Pascow dying in the entrance to the hospital on Louis’s first day, you get Church’s death, Gage’s death of course, Jud’s wife, Jud himself, Gage again, Church again, Rachael, Timmy Baterman…wow that’s a lot of people and one cat. Told you this book was heavy on death.
- Pet Sematary works because King uses the place beyond the pet sematary and the Micmac burying ground as the nexus for the novel. Everything that happens in the book is directly connected to the Micmac burying grounds; from Jud taking Louis to it to bury Church all the way to the truck driver speeding down the road and killing Gage. That parcel of Micmac Indian land was a great King villain and a great unseen force.
- Pet Sematary works because King left the ending ambiguous. I’m pretty sure that given the events of the rest of the novel that Louis is killed by Rachael. But who knows really. He could have turned and killed her like he had to do to Church and Gage. It really hinges on how you think in life: Positive or negative. Me? I’m an optimist…one thing is for sure: I’d love to see a follow-up novel with Ellie Creed trying to deal with her past as she goes back to the Pet Sematary. How good of a book would that be?!
Pet Sematary is a chilling place to walk through- 5/5 (Klassic King)