I was hesitant to pick up “Pet Sematary.” The idea of zombified pets didn’t really interest me, and the whole premise seemed like it belonged more in a Goosebumps novel than one written by Stephen King. Also, it was a somewhat large book and I have the attention span of an eight year-old. Still, something compelled me to read it and I am glad it did. “Pet Sematary” is one of the most suspenseful and downright chilling thrillers I have ever encountered.
“Pet Sematary” follows Doctor Louis Creed, his wife and their two kids as they move into their new home in rural Ludlow, Maine. This rustic house has a backyard surrounded by a vast forest. It is quiet and undisturbed, except for the occasional noise of a semi-truck passing on the road out front. Across the road lives Jud Crandall, an easygoing and lovable old man who lives with his sickly wife, Zelda. As the story progresses, it becomes apparent that Ludlow is no ordinary small town, and the Creed residence is surrounded by danger.
Stephen King does an excellent job of knowing exactly when to inform the readers of impending threats. Throughout the novel, I was aware that certain events were going to take place, but I never knew when to expect them. Each page kept me just as enthralled as the last. King also establishes the lore in a way that keeps the story moving and keeps the reader in the dark just enough to keep them on edge. Every time I thought I was fully aware of the situation, I would get sucker punched by a new piece of information. This book is filled to the brim with suspense and is often depressing.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, “Pet Sematary” is not a perfect piece of literature. Firstly, there is a random handjob paragraph which adds nothing to the story. I have nothing against erotica, but this just seemed gratuitous. I encourage you to not let this deter you from reading this novel. It isn’t a large paragraph and refrains from being overly explicit. If it truly bothers you, just skip it. The lore is fantastic and complex, but it has a couple of plot holes. This was not a big problem for me though, because I was so encapsulated by the story at the time that I failed to notice them. My biggest complaint about the book is that it was sad. Sadder than a horror novel had any right to be. I bought this book expecting to be thoroughly scared, but instead, I was almost in tears on several occasions. A book about a stupid undead cat was not supposed to make me want to cry.
I was torn between criticizing and praising the conclusion of “Pet Sematary.” It felt hollow and lacking, but it matched the tone of the story. I think I was disappointed because I was not ready for the story to end. It tied up everything nicely while leaving a few unresolved conflicts that kept a feeling of suspense to the very end of the novel. It was not my favorite ending, but it was still a damn good ending to an amazing novel.
If you are a fan of horror, I highly encourage that you read this book. It may not be as famous as some of Stephen King’s other works like “It” or “The Shining,” but that does not make it any less of a worthy novel. It has surprisingly complex characters and tells a gut-wrenching story that keeps the reader invested through all 374 pages. I implore you, do not judge this book by its cover. Give “Pet Sematary” a chance, and maybe you will enjoy it as much as I did.