PET SEMATARY | Stephen King
12.04.2018 (first published 11.14.1983) | Scribner
Rating: 4/5 stars
Dr. Louis Creed has landed a new job, which takes his family from Chicago to the rural town of Ludlow, Maine. Their new house is located in a quiet section of the town and seems to be the perfect place for the Creed family to start over. The only thing they don’t love are the eighteen-wheeler trucks that fly down the road outside their new home. The Creed’s know these trucks are dangerous, but the makeshift burial ground for lost pets located in the woods behind their home truly shows how many lives those trucks have taken.
There’s something strange about that burial ground and it’s not just the fact that it’s filled with all of the neighborhoods lost pets or that children will go their alone or with friends to bury their lost furry companions. There is a sense of unease Louis can’t quite shake and once he learns the truth, his life will be changed forever. There is more than just death there. Something powerful lies beneath the surface.
Sometimes dead is better.
Spoilers ahead! Reader beware!
PET SEMATARY is a long time favorite for King readers, so I went into this book with high expectations. Part One focuses on the Creed family and how they are settling into the their new lives in Ludlow. King takes this section and creates a slow-burn unraveling where the reader can feel that something bad is going to happen to the Creed family, but you’re not sure exactly what that will be. This is also the part of the book where the strangeness surrounding the burial ground AKA pet sematary is explained via Louis’ neighbor and long-time Ludlow resident, Jud.
This particular part of Ludlow is centered around a strip of road where huge trucks constantly speed through. Ultimately these trucks end up taking the lives of all sorts of household pets. Their youthful owners then choose to bury their pets in pet sematary. The burial ground itself has a strange appeal to Louis, with it’s spiral of grave markers, each lovingly crafted by a child owner. Jud soon reveals the lore and the truth surrounding these place to Louis. The ground has the ability to bring your faithful companion back to life. Several have done it and each has found that their pet comes back not quite the same.
Cause what you buy, is what you own. And what you own…always comes home to you.
Jud reveals the truth of the land to Louis the night they find the Creed’s family cat, Church, to be a victim of the road. The question of whether or not Louis should bring Church back hardly grazes his thoughts, as he is focused on his family avoiding suffering from the loss of their pet. But, as the the book will make you wonder, are some things best left dead? In the case of Church, I wasn’t scared of the reanimated version of him. King certainly exaggerates some normal cat traits of them bringing dead animals to their owners within Church, but he never truly terrified me.
While I Part One never lost my attention, I do think it could be deemed too much of a slow-burn build for some readers. King kicks the action up quite a bit in Part Two and Three, where things take a dramatic turn for the Creed family. Within these sections King explores something far scarier than any cat. He explores the depths of loss and the lengths that people are willing to go in order to alleviate the pain associated with loss. What if you could bring a lost loved one back? Someone who was taken from your life far before their time? Would you do and would you do if you knew they would come back changed?
You do it because it gets hold of you. You do it because that burial place is a secret place, and you want to share the secret…you make up reasons…they seem like good reasons…mostly you do it because you want to. Or because you have to.
Having lost a parent and experiencing an unbelievable amount of grief associated with it I found these questions to be extremely interesting. While I don’t have children, I can imagine that the pain felt from the loss of a child is excruciating for a parent. Would I bring them back? I just don’t know.
Final thoughts on this one…I enjoyed PET SEMATARY, but had some issues. I love a good slow-burn book that delivers a satisfying ending. This book definitely had potential to be rated higher for me if the last half hadn’t felt incredibly rushed. It was almost as if I had just started to really find my groove with the story and then it was over. I know from reading other King books that he loves to really draw out the details of a story, which is completely fine with me, but I want a finale that pays off for all that backstory! While I loved the final pages, I simply wanted more! That being said, I greatly enjoyed the book as a whole and would recommend checking it out before the movie hits theaters!