When I was a young, 12 year old, trying to escape the confines of my strict home life, my form of rebelling was taking the city bus to the public library and hiding in the stacks with Stephen King. I read Misery, Carrie, Cujo, and others. It was something about the horror genre that drew me in. Looking back now, I think it is how immersive King's books can be. I wanted to be transported and his books did just that.
As an adult, I haven't touched a King book in years, but I have been wanting to start reading his backlist. I started the horror classic, Pet Sematary. Yes, I have seen the original movie. No, I have not seen the recent re-make. And yes, I recall THAT scene. I wasn't excited for it by any means. Especially because I have young boys and live on a country road that has "used up" a couple of our beloved house cats. But looking past that, this book was everything I remember the movie to be and more. Creepy, atmospheric and morbid. What the movie doesn't capture, and what makes the book so much better than the film, is the inner dialogue of the main protagonist. King takes you through his psyche as he progresses from a level headed doctor to a manic, grief stricken and desperate father.
Pet Sematary may be about an old cemetery that brings anything buried in it, back to life, but it is a deeper dive into life, death and the human psyche. If you were faced with the unfathomable and you knew there was a way to get your loved one back, what would you do? It really makes you reflect on what awaits us on the other side. King has a way of sending his readers through an existential crisis, while simultaneously terrifying them. Job well done, SK. Job well done.
Note: Something to keep in mind when reading older Stephen King books, there are many content/trigger warnings and elements of racism and sexism that are difficult to read. I think it is important to be aware of this type of content before embarking on his books. Pet Sematary had many cringeworthy comments regarding the indigenous community, gender roles, and race.
Dr. Louis Creed moves his family from bustling Chicago to an old farm house with acres of land in the country in quiet Ludlow, Maine. Behind the property is an old pet cemetery that is kept up by the residents of Ludlow. Beyond the cemetery is an old burial ground with a hidden secret that is both powerful and terrifying.
“And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sanity.”