Pet Sematary Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 2001
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Washington Post Book World Wild, powerful, disturbing.
Detroit News A stunner....King gets you to believe the unbelievable.
Pittsburgh Press Unrelenting, convincing...awesome power...his best yet!
From the Back Cover
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 cat.
But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth -- more terrifying than death itself...and hideously more powerful.
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I don't want to spoil too much, but it's hard to describe without doing that. Sometimes his zombie thing works and sometimes it doesn't. It's most effective when describing his cat. I would say the highlight was the old man Jud's tale of Timmy Baterman; that was truly effective and eerie. By the final climax, it's predictable and off-and-on effective. He's most effective when he's using small details to set an ominous tone. The climax is over the top; it might have been more effective if the son had just been an eerie zombie and not a murderous one. Like others said, it almost becomes a "Chucky bloodbath".
His use of pop culture references is effective, if over used. He's used that device before and generally it somehow grounds the atmosphere of supernatural into an everyday setting which is what King excels at. Also, he refers to death as "Oz, the Great and Terrible", based on a child's view of Death as a force. It's overused, but very effective; it fits in with his meditation on death as an ever-present unavoidable danger that we all fight but ultimately surrender to. This is a tale of not accepting death; someone said he could've put more profound thoughts into this but I think he does a pretty good job for a popular novel. I don't expect serious existentiality in a horror tale; he makes his points in a believable way through the eyes of his characters. One of his strong points is in illustrating a character's inner thoughts to really show the true horror. He's much better at this than a typical bloodbath ending.
Speaking of characters, his two most effective are Jud the old man (even if it seems cliche of Wise Country Old Timer, it works) and the undead cat. They set the tone of dread and demonstrate compelling force that lurks in the Indian burial ground. I also liked his invocation of the classic monster, the Wendigo, even if its purpose was a little vague. He could've elaborated more on why it was there. There are some vague allusions to cannibalism that don't quite fit, even though he talks about cannibalizing one's grief and sanity. I guess it works but...
Like others, I thought the scene of the funeral fight was over the top and unnecesary and lent an unintended slapstick to an otherwise serious story in which death was an everpresent malevolent force.
King and some of his readers have said this was his scariest book; i haven't read much King so I can't say, but The Stand was much better at creating a very creepy tone of dread. Also, apparently he did this fairly early in his career-he shelved it for a long while- so it does showcase his talent pretty well. His pacing is impeccable and his skills for creating tension are tight. The grave digging and night scenes are pretty brilliant, as his wife and Jud's futile efforts to stop a morbid escapade.
I also enjoyed the historical devices of Jud's tales of setting the history of the burial ground; it's such a cliche to say "Indian burial ground' in horror. So it helps to create a believable back story there. He actually gets away with using a well-worn device.
Overall, it has very strong points and a somewhat predictable and disappointing end. As I said before, I would've preferred less of a blood bath and more of an eerie zombie ending. His creation of eerie zombies (as opposed to the brain-eating, Night of the LIving Dead kind) was very effective and chilling. It felt much more real than the movie stereotype.
This is, famously, the book that King himself considers the most frightening he has ever written. He has expressed regret over publishing it, claiming that it’s too dark, too bleak, that it goes too far.
I understand why he feels that way. Reading Pet Sematary as an adult has been a horrifying experience. I’m now at a point in my life where I have an acute fear of mortality—both my own and that of those I love. Pet Sematary exploits that very fear.
We all know what it’s like to lose a loved one. What if there was a way to bring them back? Would you do it, even if it meant opening a door into the depths of darkness and terror? We all want to feel like we have some semblance of control, like we’re not at the whim of an indifferent universe where death can strike at any time. But at what cost?
As Pet Sematary’s Louis Creed grapples with these very questions, we feel an overwhelming sense of dread. We know tragedy and horror await he and his family, and all we can do is sit back and watch it unfold, secretly hoping that if given the chance, we wouldn’t make the same mistakes. After all, as Louis’s neighbor Jud warns, “sometimes dead is better.”
Pet Sematary had me in its grip from the first few pages and never let up. It’s a masterful story about death, love, grief and the hopelessness of trying to escape the will of the universe.
Top international reviews
Well what a book it is. This is definitely one of Kings most disturbing pieces of work, especially in the second half of the book. In fact the first half, although reasonable, was certainly not a 5 star quality read by any stretch of the imagination. But as with many of Kings masterpieces, you really have to allow him to paint a huge picture of the setting and let him really fully introduce the characters to the point that you really know them personally before he unveils his dark and horrific ideas upon you. Once he does that in this amazing tale it definitely does become a 5 star, disturbing yet brilliant book. One of my favourite by this genius of an author.
As the father of a two year old, this is without doubt the hardest read of this year! Stephen King is the best writer of child characters of any author in history, and he may as well have named the character Leo (my son) rather than Gage for the way it drew me into the action!
This is known as Stephen King’s scariest novel, and to some degree I agree with that (length vs pay off/creep-out per page) to a large degree. Unnerving in large parts, and for me, this was an ending that Stephen King got right! A book worthy of the tag “horror”!
Expertly written as always and a great story but I found myself so emotionally drained and distraught after reading it, as I imagine anyone else with children would be-particularly as I have a son exactly the same age as the child in the story.
Absolutely terrifying but in a very different way to the others. The situation in the novel is REAL horror. It’ll certainly make you cuddle your little ones a bit tighter and for a bit longer.
It's one of the fears that I suppose we all have where we suddenly lose someone close to us, worse if that someone is our small child. In the preface Stephen King explains how a near road accident involving his very young son inspired this book. Yes, I know that fear.
The story starts when a family lose their beloved cat to a busy road. Close by is an ancient burial ground where local children made a pet 'sematary', complete with a misspelled sign. There are stories of it having the power to resurrect the dead. So of course the protagonist buries the family cat there while his wife and children are away. What harm can it do?
The cat returns from the dead but he is not the same. Less feline grace, smellier and with a new ambitious hunting prowess. The family aren't so keen on the cat anymore. They become quite mean to him as well, especially the protagonist (the husband and father). Let it be noted that I won't turn against my cat if he becomes less fragrant or graceful. Not impressed with this at all.
From cats the focus naturally moves to humans. The themes run throughout the various characters in their ability to accept death and to acknowledge the guilt associated with injury and illness. There are no-go areas when it comes to talking about death, expressed initially when the cat dies and the husband chooses not to tell his wife or children. This leads to him becoming secretive while his wife and her family suppress their guilt concerning a family death no one mentions.
There are some tense moments in this book; the #psychological aspects are covered in great depth and understanding, especially the trauma of death, and the gory bits are vividly described. A couple of sections are really quite chilling and there is the hint of the supernatural juxtaposed with the unreliable protagonist as he becomes more unstable. This is well done and convincing.
This is a bleak and depressing work of ##dark fiction where the chances of a happy ending are practically nil.
Unfortunately there are too many waffly bits that tend to drag on without adding to the overall pace of the story. Pet Sematary would be much better as a novella where the thought provoking tale leaves us wondering what we would do in the same situation. Instead I was wondering when the book would end.
Finally, I've finished!
Overall, the storyline was fantastic and some of Kings descriptions were very eerie. But... BUT I struggled to finish it. It dragged and dragged so much. I feel you could take out all the unnecessary book fluff and still be left with a good sized novel that still made sense. There is a lot of 'fluff" in this (no, not literally fluff. Just useless information that doesn't move the story forward. If you cut it out, the story would still make perfect sense.)
I've never been a huge fan of Kings books. I admire his commitment and a lifetime of failure and success, but his style just doesn't work with my brain and I end up getting bored very quickly. But, it's the first of his books I've managed to finish (even if I did have to force myself to read the last 100 pages!)
I didn't find this book overly scary. I've heard people say this book scares them to death, but for me it was just flat and boring. Sure, some descriptions were creepy. But at no point did I feel scared. (I've yet to read a book that makes me scared!)
I recommend this book if you like long winded background stories with very few 'action shots'.
Also, Ellie's name changed to Eileen just once at the end of the book 🤔
If you're like me, and prefer constant drama and action and romance, don't read this.
Overall rating: 5/10
For years people have been urging me to read this book, and I have always said that I will... one day. Well, one day came after I'd watched the new movie. I'm glad I saw both movie versions first before I read the book, as I feel I have been able to appreciate them separately and not compare, as most people are prone to do.
In the main part, the films differ from the book in that the book explores the impact of grief on the psyche of Louis Creed, the protagonist, and we can see how he rationalises his actions as he slowly descends into madness. This is heartbreaking in itself, but we do fully understand his actions. To explore the internal ramblings of a character on screen does not work. In the main, movie goers are a different breed to book lovers and movies need to be paced enough to keep the viewers' attention.
The story of Pet Sematary is not really about the Pet Sematary, but about the land which lies beyond it; land that has the ability to bring the dead back to life, but as Jud Crandall said, they never come back the same and 'sometimes dead is better'.
Enjoy the movies for the interpretations they are and immerse yourself in the book for the sheer joy of King's writing.
I just feel like steven king and his books have been so overrated over the years that when you do start to read his work that I'm expecting way to much from this very talented author,,, but don't get me wrong this was a great read and I honestly feel bad for my comment now
When Dr Creed and his family move to their new home, all seems well. It's not, and it gets a whole lot worse.
King plays with our expectations throughout. We think we've been told the worst that could happen, but King's description makes it all the more horrific.
The supernatural plays a major part in events here, and the rational part of my brain tells me this is nonsense. Then there's odd passages that tap into a feeling that can't be explained easily.
I'm just glad I read this during the day!