61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best--but very, very dark.
I first read this book as a teenager--God, was it really 15 years ago? Loved it then, like it now. I must've reread it a dozen times, because the characters caught hold of me. King sketches his characters broadly but carefully, making their dialogue come alive--Jud Crandall is particularly likeable in this regard--and making their emotions ring true... Which is what...
Published on February 25, 2000 by Will Errickson
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Woah, a book that's almost entirely filler.
Maybe I was just spoiled by reading It and The Shining over the last year, but Pet Sematary didn't do anything for me. I'd read many lists that countdown King's best 10 books, and the one that would always be in the top 5 was Pet Sematary, so I bought it. Halfway through the book, I was getting bored. 4/5 into the book, I'd read maybe 9 pages a day, not having much will...
Published on December 2, 2010 by Armando N. Roman
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61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best--but very, very dark.,
I first read this book as a teenager--God, was it really 15 years ago? Loved it then, like it now. I must've reread it a dozen times, because the characters caught hold of me. King sketches his characters broadly but carefully, making their dialogue come alive--Jud Crandall is particularly likeable in this regard--and making their emotions ring true... Which is what makes the horror so unsettling. This is one of King's darkest works, as it deals not simply with supernatural terror, but REAL terror, like the death of a child, or the realization that people can be cruel and evil with little provocation, or the guilt that comes with hiding things. One of the effective ways King achieves his horror is in having Jud Crandall tell his stories about what happened many years before in the town of Ludlow. God, those stories, of Timmy Baterman, of Jud's own dog, wreaked havoc on my imagination as a teen; one of the very few times that simply reading has induced in me the feeling of physical fear, as if I myself might be in danger. I've read countless horror novels, and this was one of the few books to do that to me! It's not really fun. Still, I recommend "Pet Sematary" highly. It's dark and somber and very real--King playing for keeps.
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bone-Chilling!,
Wow. I have read many of King's works, and I was never REALLY scared by any of his books. I just thought they were darned good reads. However, Pet Sematary is quite different.
The plot revolves around young doctor Louis Creed, who moves to a remote little town in Maine with his beautiful family -- but they all get the feeling that the cute little town has a dark, evil secret. Wierd things start to happen when a college student comes into Creed's campus infirmary -- hit by a truck and as good as dead -- and sputters warnings out to him, and later appears in a dream, advising him not to pass the barrier at the end of the "Pet Sematary."
Louis's life starts to fall apart, and he senses a strange power. The "Pet Sematary" and the darkness which lies beyond it begin to control and destroy his life.
Doesn't sound scary -- that's only because I didn't want to give anything away. But, it is EXTREMELY creepy, even though I've already seen the movie about a million times.
I honestly have to say that "PET SEMATARY" gave me the creepiest four days of my life. Many scenes in this grim masterpiece will absolutely freeze your blood. I don't think I have ever been that "freaked out." In fact, I finished the book today, and last night the book scared me so bad that I was litteraly afraid to go to sleep -- therefore, I did not. I stayed up all night, afraid to turn off the lights and go to sleep, with nothing to do but read the book. This book is like the MicMac burial ground itself....it seems to control you, and forces you to unlock its frightening secrets.
If you are in for a good scare that no horror movie could ever give you (this coming from a hard-boiled horror fan, who does NOT scare easy, and I am being truthful), then order this book immediately. You will be scared....but you will not be sorry.
I think this book also has a moral -- don't try to fix it if it aint really broke. Also, as the tagline for the movie states..."Sometimes dead is better." Absolutely right.
Well, I am off now, to drink a pot of black coffee to make up for all the sleep I lost reading Pet Sematary last night.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For me - this is the scariest book ever written,
Different people have different ideas about what is "funny" - same with "scary". If snakes or spiders or great-white sharks scare the peedoodle out of you, then your reaction to a story about them might be different than it might be for, say The Crocodile Hunter.
Stephen King is prolific beyond belief. He is sometimes redundant. In Pet Sematary he wrote a story so compelling that I literally could not put it down, yet at the same time so horrifying that I practically screamed at myself NOT TO TURN THE NEXT PAGE!!!!
King knows a thing or two about humans and human relationships, and in Pet Sematary he creates a realistic family that you care about.... then he does absolutely TERRIFYING things to them. Without giving anything away - I have to say that one of the reasons that this book affected me so deeply is that I had recently become a Dad back when this book first was released, and this book hones in on a new parent's worst nightmares, then just gets worse and worse and worse.
If you like being scared by a book, and you can't think of anything worse than seeing your child killed - this book might hit you like it hit me. I repeat: This is the scariest novel I have ever read.
As an aside: The "scariest book ever" was turned into a fairly cheesy movie. I give the book a solid 5 stars, but wouldn't rate the film any higher than 2 or 3. Another aside: My personal choice for "scariest movie" is "The Exorcist", while I found the novel of "The Exorcist" fairly bland and not paced well enough to scare me.
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll Never Look at Cats the Same Way Again!!,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
PET SEMATARY is a book that will stand the test of time. It is, of course, one of King's early novels, and we can see the author at his peek. The horrors he reveals (from family dynamics to supernatural burial grounds) are chilling enough to scare the bejesus out of the sternest of hearts!
The story revolves around the Creed family and their move from a bustling Chicago suburb to quiet Bangor, Maine, where the father (Louis) starts work as a physician. He brings with him his wife and two children (Ellie, a preteen daughter, and Gauge, a preschool boy still in diapers). The house they move into is beautiful with plenty of land for the children to play on, and a nice old neighbor couple across the "road", the Crandalls. It is this "road" that causes some immediate concern to Louis as Judd Crandall tells him about the deaths of animals caused by the big semi-trucks that blaze down its blacktop.
Judd becomes friends with the family and eventually takes them (or rather is drawn into taking them) on a small path behind the Creed's house that leads to a very special place: the PET SEMATARY. This is the place where most of the animals that'd been killed on the "road" are buried. It's a strange place with concentric circles, the shape the multiple graves make as they are laid out against the well-kept grounds. Louis and Ellie notice a large deadfall tree and Judd warns them not to climb it because it is too dangerous. But there's more to the story than that. What lay beyond the deadfall tree?
Ellie's cat, Church, is eventually killed on the "road", and Judd and Louis decide to bury the cat, but not in the PET SEMATARY; they go beyond, over the deadfall, and into a very special place known as the Micmac burial grounds, a place that has existed since the Earth began, and has the power in its soil to bring back the dead. But at what cost?
"Has anyone ever buried a human being back there?" Louis asks Judd.
"Don't even think such a thing, Louis!" Judd replies.
Church returns to the living, but is much changed. The cat smells foul, and has a very cold and evil manner about it. But at least Ellie has her cat back, right?
Eventually the "road" takes more than just an animal of the Creed's. In a horrific set of narratives, Mr. King draws us into what might happen if humans were brought back from the dead. What happens to our soul if we're brought back? Does it come with us? Or does it stay on the Micmac grounds? Or perhaps something in-between?
This book will, in every sense of the word, "freak" you out! It's terrifyingly terrific, as were many of King's earlier novels. A must read for the horror afficionado.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Cat Came Back: King's Pet Sematary,
This novel follows doctor Louis Creed, his wife Rachel, and their two children, who move into an old house in Maine near a haunted patch of ground that feeds on human grief and insanity, which it elicits by resurrecting any dead thing interred in its stony grip. The spirit or spirits of the place have a magnetic draw on the human mind that has led to a long, secret local tradition of this very act--mostly involving children's pets, but once in a while, something human. First the family cat gets run over, and then the family's young son. You see where this is going. When summarized, it's far-out, even laughable stuff.
Yet Stephen King was afraid to re-read the finished book, his wife afraid to finish reading it the first time, and both of them afraid to see it published. They considered it too disturbing. I can even feel a faint anxiety as I write my review. That a mere book can have such effect is as disturbing as anything else about it--it seems threatening that mere printed matter should exert such power over our nerves. King later
called it "a dirty, nasty book."
He's absolutely right. Besides being utterly merciless towards its characters and its readers, the novel contains ideas so unwholesome, so unnatural, and such a fixation on uncanny evil, that some fundamental part of us rebels. This sets up a psychological paradox, for while our brain wants to reject what has been put before us, it also wants to accept it,due to the novel's beguiling realism (another King trademark). What this means is that a thoughtful reader will end up turning over the novel's proposals in his or her brain, and if left to obsess, could wind up very disturbed indeed. There's a reason this book scared even Stephen King.
You don't become the world's bestselling novelist by chance. King fills a niche--and it's not just about horror. There is, after all, no shortage of shlocky horror novels whose plots follow storylines similar to those of King's. So what sets his work apart?
For one thing, as with the work of Dickens, God is in the details. King disarms us with evocative details from everyday life long before he asks us to believe the unbelievable. He displays a unique talent in this area, and his skill is absolutely one-in-a-million. You read certain passages and think, "Yes--it is like that, and no one else has articulated it!"
This holds true for his meditations on family life, too. "He more than half suspected that one of the things which had kept their marriage together... was their respect of the mystery--the half-grasped but never spoken idea that maybe, when you got right down... there was no such thing as marriage, no such thing as union, and that each soul stood alone and ultimately defied rationality... And sometimes (rarely, thank God) you ran into a full-fledged pocket of alien strangeness, something like the clear-air turbulence that that can buffet an airliner for no reason at all... And then you trod lightly, if you valued your marriage and your peace of mind; you tried to remember that anger at such a discovery was the province of fools who really believed it was possible for one mind to know another." It's also clear that King writes from experience when Louis meditates on the inner life of his children and wonders tenderly, musingly, and "not for the first time, if childhood was more a period of forgetting than of learning."
His work is designed to convince. Even when Louis realizes that his son has come back from the dead, he finds out in broad daylight, while on the phone with his father-in-law. It's then that he sees the mud tracks on the kitchen floor. The way this is described is utterly convincing, and by the time King's done with us, we're in Louis's shoes and we're all too sure that if this could happen, it would happen exactly the way it does here.
Another of King's disarming tactics is the pre-emptive strike. We can't laugh the horror away: his characters have already tried to do it for us. We can't rationalize it away: we watch them attempt and fail. One of King's masterstrokes in Pet Sematary is the choice of a doctor for his protagonist--someone whose clinical sense of science and reason resists every assertion of the supernatural, the uncanny, the improbable. Louis Creed does our doubting and our disbelieving for us. The passage where Louis, finally having come round, matter-of-factly calculates the various possibilities that the return of his young son might entail, as though he were working out an algebraic formula, is a subtle example of King's brand of literary achievement.
Nor can we wish away the terror by re-situating ourselves in daylight and in modernized, technological settings. Some of the most harrowing passages of the novel take place in an airport. His characters are at home in pop culture. King also has a great feel for the way that simple phrases ("It's only the loons. The sound carries. It's funny.") or even simple words like resurrection or abomination can take on uncanny meanings under the right circumstances and repeat themselves obsessively in one's mind, with cumulative ominousness. Writers will especially appreciate this effect.
Throughout Pet Sematary, but especially in the book's last third, there are passages where the narrative becomes so specific, so coldly vivid in timing and detail, as to approach hallucination. The effect this has is unsettling, to say the least. For my money, the most harrowing passages aren't those involving the resurrections, but those that put us in Louis's shoes as he robs a graveyard and then carries his dead son
through the haunted woods at two in the morning. It was these passages that kept me awake much later, because they are the most realistic. "This place was thick with spirits; it was tenebrous with them," Louis finally has to admit to himself. "The reality of what he was doing--standing out here in the dark calling his dead son--suddenly hit him and set his scalp crawling." I paraphrase, but you get the idea. There is reality in this book: the reality of marriage; of work; of parenthood; of extended family relations; of neighborhoods; of death; and of evil. As after a particularly lucid dream, there is a part of us that believes what we have just experienced. It takes a little while to recover.
Pet Sematary builds to a tense moment and leaves you there: it wants to stay with you. It could have been a modern literary classic if King didn't give in to his temptation to show us too much, simply because his talent at rendering the unbelievable believably entices him to do so. It should have retained the spare, taut, harrowing quality of the night-in-the-woods sequences, but it loses a little steam when we confront the monster.
Stephen King has been embraced as a sort of cultural campfire yarn-spinner in the popular imagination. He's given us Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me and the Green Mile, not to mention the campily enjoyable miniseries The Stand and the scare-with-a-wink Creepshow series. What's easy to forget about is the dark bite his actual novels have, and not one of them has more bite than Pet Sematary.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King's darkest,
Early publicity for Pet Sematary stated that the novel, which King had written but not allowed to be released, was his scariest novel ever. King and his wife, Tabitha, agreed that this was no mere hyperbole. In a Fangoria interview conducted around the time of Pet Sematary's release, King said that he showed the manuscript to his wife, and she couldn't finish it. "It was too... effective." Eventually, in 1983, the novel did see print. Was it as horrifying, as gruesome, as dark as all the hype purported it to be?
Thankfully, yes. This book is a runner-up for King's scariest novel (losing only marginally to The Shining), and it really is his darkest. It is a book about loss, and greif, and, simply put, death. Death, the great unknown; death, the all-encroaching. But, as the characters of Pet Sematary discover, there are things worse than death.
King himself has said that Pet Semetary is in his opinion his most frightening novel. While I may not agree with that entirely, it certainly is a story that's as creepy as they come. First the cat dies, and then the story of the old Indian cemetery comes out, and next thing you know, the dead cat is alive - if not a bit odd. Voila - the big can of worms is open. It's a can of worms that ultimately plummets this likeable family into the depths of Hell. The cemetery, against all laws of nature (but in keeping with the laws of Stephen King) appears to be able to resurrect dead animals. Could it also work on humans? Dr Louis Creed tries to postpone death by prolonging life. This is the story of a man who forgets that he can't play God. It is a disturbing novel, the kind of subversive, realistic scary story that exemplifies great horror fiction.
Despite a slow start, Pet Semetary picks up speed and pulls the reader into a terrifying conclusion. It is a dark, unforgiving novel dealing with the very nature of death and greif. It never gives up, just hacks away at sanity and rationality until nothing is left. In the world of Pet Sematary, death begets death, lunacy begets lunacy, and the examination of terror is an exercise in darkness, in which no light can be seen.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.",
I'm a huge fan of Stephen King's work, but until now I've resisted the lure of "Pet Sematary." That's because many years ago I checked out the last page and I didn't want to know the degradations that led to such a horrifying climax. However, after recently perusing some books about Mr. King I decided to take a stroll through "Pet Sematary." I'm glad I finally visited what Mr. King considers one of his most disturbing tales, for it was a dark journey well worth the taking.
Dr. Louis Creed moves his wife Rachel and young children Ellie and Gage to Maine to take a medical post at the state university. Louis quickly befriends elderly neighbor Jud Crandall, a lifelong resident. Jud takes the Creeds to the nearby Pet Sematary, so named by the townsfolk who interred their beloved animals to rest there. But beyond an ominous deadfall lay a path leading deeper into the woods, and Louis is warned more than once to leave it be. Of course he soon disregards that sage advice, and the Creed family is plunged into a miasma of horror that threatens to consume them all.
The book's theme centers on the inevitability of death and our various reactions to it. Rachel fears and loathes even the mere mention of the subject due to childhood trauma, while rational Dr. Louis see life's end as a natural progression. Tragic events force them to confront and alter their viewpoints, and not necessarily for the better. They move through the five stages of death, but their normal, healthy progression is corrupted by the cursed region beyond the Pet Sematary, an ancient Indian burial ground that offers resurrection - with a price. And what emerges from its stony depths illustrates that despite our most fervent wishes, "sometimes, dead is better."
This review's titular quote from "The Masque of the Red Death" reveals the noxious atmosphere of doom permeating Stephen King's "Pet Sematary." Whether or not such a descent into bleakness bothers you is your call; you've been warned (especially if you're the parent of young children). But if you choose to take the alluring and dangerous path over the deadfall, you'll enter one of Mr. King's darkest productions and embark on a slow-motion tour of human desolation akin to a fatal train wreck. Recommended, but not for the squeamish.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes Dead is Better,
This review is from: Pet Sematary (Paperback)
Pet Sematary is a hauntingly beautiful, supremely frightening novel. It is, without a doubt, Stephen King's masterpiece. According to King, however, he was initially reluctant to publish it. It was, in his opinion, unfit for public consumption. The story he had written was (if you can somehow picture the Master of Macabre saying this) "too scary." In his own words, "[he] had gone too far." His wife and Peter Straub (a good friend, and co-author of The Talisman and Black House) agreed. So, the completed manuscript languished for years in his desk drawer until a stipulation in his contract with Doubleday- with whom he would soon part ways- saved it from obsolescence. In 1983, the same year Christine was published, Pet Sematary was finally released.
King is famous for his "creature features"- tales of ghosts (Christine, The Shining) and folkloric monsters ('Salem's Lot) that, while immensely enjoyable, are mere appetizers to the feast of horror that is Pet Sematary. It is a tale of loss and grief; of a man's desire to reverse the injustices of a cruel universe; and that man's punishment for daring to play God.
Shortly after Louis Creed moves his family to Ludlow, Maine, he makes an unsettling discovery: an ancient Micmac burial ground, hidden deep within the woods near his picturesque New England home. As Louis soon learns, this is no ordinary graveyard; for beneath the ground, a terrible, gruesome power is waiting to be unleashed. And with the arrival of the Creed family, it has found a stepping stone into the world of the living. The events that follow Louis' archaeological find will lead him straight to the doors of Hell.
This is a genuinely terrifying novel. King does not rely on cheap tricks or gore to elicit scares. The reader suffers along with the Creed family, feels their hopelessness, heartache, and terror mount as one tragedy after another befalls them. As we so often do in times of grief, you will ask, "Why?", will want to scream it, even.
You will get no answer...except, perhaps, that sometimes, dead is better.
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The soil of a man's heart is stonier",
Louis Creed wants nothing more than the best for his family, and with this in mind he takes on a new job as a doctor at a university health center, and moves the four of them (plus the family cat "Church") to rural Maine. Upon first arriving at the new house, Louis loses his keys, his daughter Ellie stumbles and scrapes her knee, and the youngest child Gage gets a nasty bee sting. Though some might consider these bad omens, Louis and his wife Rachel shrug these incidences off and get on with their lives. Little do they know that an ancient evil lurks within the woods beyond their new home.
When Ellie's cat Church gets hit by a truck in the road over Thanksgiving, the Creed's neighbor, Jud Crandall, divulges the secret of the Micmac burial ground and it's evil properties to Louis. In a desperate attempt to keep the pain of death and loss temporarily from his daughter, Jud leads Louis out to bury Church. Though changed in somewhat inexplicable ways, Church comes back from the dead and Louis's daughter Ellie gradually learns the lesson that "sometimes dead is better." However, this particular lesson will come much later for Louis himself and his wife Rachel.
I must admit that I'm not a huge fan of King. Pet Sematary, like many of his other books, is very predictable. King even divulges much of the plot well before it happens saying things like he "now had less than two months to live." In other words, little, if anything, is left to surprise. Furthermore, the prose is somewhat less-than-eloquent. Though that does make this an extremely easy read for those looking for something simple and fun. I also found Ellie's prophetic powers to be somewhat cheesy in this particular novel.
However, all of the aforementioned quibbles aside, this tale is tolerable in that the plot is intriguing. I also enjoyed King's inquiry into the human nature as it deals with the extremely real element of death. This seems to be somewhat of a "road less traveled" for many authors, even in the horror genre. Though many reviewers seem to think that this book would have been better without a good chunk of the first half, I would tend to disagree. The first half of the book sets the stage for the way these individuals deal with death and grief, and what their opinions are on the subject, which is all too human and realistic. It's an inquiry into simple human nature. In the introduction, King explains that he was concerned he "had finally gone too far." Perhaps that is because many people, like Rachel's character in the book, would rather pretend death isn't a part of reality and thus would not like to have it shoved in their faces.
King also notes in his introduction that "'sometimes dead is better' is grief's last lesson....That lesson suggests that in the end, we can only find peace in our human lives by accepting the will of the universe." All grudges with King's books aside, this is a worthwhile lesson to be learned, and I enjoyed reading his ponderings on the subject and the way in which they were presented in this novel.
This book is definitely worth a read. Though the movie adaptation sticks quite well to the majority of the plot, the intricacies are left out (as is the case with many movie adaptations). If you read one Stephen King book, this should be it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brrrrrrr!,
By A Customer
Stephen King is known to be the scariest writer of this century. We all knnow Misery, Carrie, Shining and...Pet Sematary!
The people who saw the movie will certainly more appreciate this terrifying book about a doctor and his family being haunted by ghosts. When Louis Creed, a young doctor, and Rachel, his wife mother of two children, arrive at their new house in the Maine(is there one Stephen King book that doesn't takes place in the Maine?!),they reaaly don't know they live behind an old Indian cemetary. But when they begin to make strange nightmares and to see horrific ghosts(the people who saw the movie certainly remember of Zelda, the sick and monstruous sister of Rachel), they realize they're in deep trouble!
Certainly one of King's best, Pet Sematary will scare you and interest you. You can't stop reading until the last page. And on warning : don't read it at night 'cause you'll never sleep!
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Pet Sematary by Stephen King (Paperback - February 1, 2002)