Review: Pet Sematary – Stephen King

I don’t wish to tempt fate and speak too early on the matter – but with this book I think Stephen King has made a fantastic introduction of the horror genre to me.

I realise I was wrong to exclude the genre from my reading preferences. Truth be told – I didn’t think I would enjoy it. I have mentioned on several occasions now how I dislike poorly made horror films made with an awful plot just to get you to jump out of your skin and hide behind the sofa. My dislike of these films is not because they scare me… in fact the problem is just the opposite. They are so predictable it’s not even funny.

If I ever watch anything remotely in the genre of horror, I prefer a psychological thriller with sophisticated plot twists. As it happens I don’t really watch much TV at the moment anyway – much less films.

I should have known I would be getting better than the equivalent of a budget blockbuster with Stephen King. I openly apologise now and admit I was wrong – this book was fantastic!

Pet Sematary

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 car. But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth-more terrifying than death itself-and hideously more powerful. The Creeds are going to learn that sometimes dead is better.

GoodReads – Pet Sematary

Death is always going to be a difficult topic to discuss – yet inevitably a fact of life is that one day it comes to an end. As to when that day is, I pray I never have to know when my time is up. I have had my fair share of experience with grief. I am only young, yet in my lifetime I have watched five family members make their final journey. Almost all of those were premature. At the age of 22 I have no living grandparents – the first of which died when I was 8. I barely had anytime to get to know her. Equally, my great-grandmother passed away at the age of 99 and didn’t want to make it to her 100th birthday. How different we all are.

When the Creed’s moved to Maine, little did they know what lay in the woods nearby. After welcoming them to the town their neighbour Jud leads them up the tended path to the cemetery. Little did the Creed’s realise the power it had.

On his first day at work as a physician at the local university, Louis loses his first patient within minutes…but that’s not the last he sees of Victor, however. The cemetery and Victor haunt his dreams with a foreboding warning – never to go beyond the deadfall.

During the Christmas period whilst Rachel, Ellie and Gage are away visiting family, the family cat has an unfortunate accident. Knowing how devastated Ellie would be, Louis ignores Victor’s warning received months before and follows Jud beyond the “Pet Sematary” tended by the generations of children of Ludlow and Winston Churchill, or Church for short, is buried in the darkness of night.

The next day and much to the surprise of Louis, Church comes back… though not quite the same as before. Cats can be creepy anyway, but imagine having an undead cat stalking around your house like it owns the place…

As it happens, the cat turns out to be the last of the Creed’s worries.

As the plot begins to unfold with the book, you realise what is going to happen. I cannot dispute that as much as this is my pet peeve with some other exhibits within the horror genre, this was written exceedingly well and very delicately. I’m not going to spoil it for anyone who has neither read the book or seen the film adaptation made, but what was more important was how events were going to play out. The pace of the book throughout suited the narration. As the plot unravels the suspension builds to the end yet doesn’t drag beyond necessary. It could be very easy to make a reader impatient waiting for the big moment, the make or break; the do or die.

Louis’ perspective was remarkably believable. It was easy to slip into his shoes and see the world from his point of view. Even though he is an unreliable narrator, his perspective is relevant to his circumstances. It is easy to justify his actions, almost to the point of reason. Almost. Equally chilling to me is Ellie’s awareness of what is going on. She dreams of Church’s death the night it happens. Victor also visits Ellie’s nightmares when his warning is ignored and Louis is on the path to destruction. The poor child can do nothing about it. They say that children are more perceptive and some can see ghosts. That thought currently isn’t making me feel any better.

I think Stephen King handled the theme very well. Is death easier to cope with if you knew that things would never be the same? Would it be worth the risk? Having read this I certainly wouldn’t meddle with it – even if coping with such a loss is heartbreaking, it is better to keep your memories sacrosanct and untarnished.

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