Review – Pet Sematary

Shall we start Halloween week with a spooky review? A very good friend of mine is part of a book club on the East Coast. I live vicariously through her, because I am garbage at book clubs and assigned reading. This month I read Pet Sematary with her. It is a book that has been a bit of a mountain to climb for a while now. I am not a great lover of horror. My mind is a bit fanciful and crazy. I have, however, found that reading things that are scarier is easier than watching movies. Apparently, my mind isn’t as exciting as horror film creators….

Anyway! Pet Sematary has been on the do not fly list for a long time for me. I finally worked up my nerve and downloaded it on Scribd (if you aren’t using Scribd and are constantly frustrated with books not being available at the library, it is totally worth nine bucks a month. The catalog of books is huge!). I expected it to be horrible and dark and I was not let down. Stephen King has often described this as the one book where he went too far, and probably one he shouldn’t have ever published. He was up against a contract change and owed the publisher he was leaving one more book. Pet Sematary had been written and thrown in a drawer never to see the light of day again. In typical Stephen King fashion, he pulled it out of the pits of his desk and had a hit.

To say the book is disturbing is a grand understatement. I have read some pretty crazy books, but this one is at the top of the “never reading that again” list. It was well-written, rang with Stephen King’s classic style, and was a perfect addition to the New England Horror Map that Stephen King has built in his collection over the years. It was also disturbing as all hell.

**Review and Spoilers**

Picturesque family moves into classic New England home, probably photographed for a post card in late September. Well-meaning old man across the road befriends them. Everyone is happy. Then all hell breaks lose with the traumatizing death of a student on our super doctor’s first day at his new job. A landslide of events ensues that ends in possibly the most disturbing ending to a book I have ever read.

Louis, our doctor, has taken a job at a university, and when student Victor Pascal is hit by a car during a run, he is unable to save him. Victor haunts Lewis’ dreams, even going so far as leading him to the Pet Sematary up the hill behind their house, to give him a warning. DO NOT GO PAST THE PET SEMATARY. Jud Crandall, delightful old man across the road, has shown the family the Pet Sematary, and warns Louis to keep their cat Church, away from the road. Naturally, the cat gets squashed by a semi, and Jud thinks it is a brilliant idea to…you guessed it…take ol Lou up past the Pet Sematary with the cat and bury it in an Indian burial ground. It is one absolutely spooky, ethereal scene. The cat comes back to life, but is no longer the Church they knew. The family tolerates the cat’s presence from there on out, knowing that something is not right, but not about Jud and Lou’s nighttime stroll.

Life settles down for a few months for the young family. A few minor tragedies occur, but one brilliant spring day brings the whole world crashing down on the family. One of their small children is hit and killed the same way as the cat was. See where this is going? Jud tells Lou to absolutely never consider taking the child to the Indian burial ground, but what fun is that?

Grief is portrayed incredibly in this book. Those moments of insanity that come after you lose someone that you loved dearly can be so overpowering and often the irrational is impossible to fight. I cannot fathom the thought of losing a child, let alone in such a traumatic way, but I will tell you this. I am too scared of the dark to ever go past the Pet Sematary.