Author: Stephen King
Release Date: November 1983
This is the twelfth book I’ve read by Stephen King lately, and probably the 15th book overall. I’d still say “The Stand” is his master piece, simply due to its ambition and cast of memorable characters but this was the creepiest, scariest and most heart wrenching of his books I’ve read so far. Maybe it was a because I have an almost two year old that of course reminded me of the doomed child of Louis, particularly the sections about how a child at that age things running from his parents is the most fun game, and you’re always waiting for their balance to leave them when they’re running full speed. I’m very attached to our pets as well, so the idea of setting this story around a pet cemetery allowed for some also touching moments and moral quagmires.
The main story of Pet Sematary is a family moves to a new house on a busy highway and Louis (the father/husband) soon learns that the Micmac Indian burial ground a few miles from his house has the apparent ability to resurrect the dead. When things come back they are not always the same as they left however, sometimes being distant, clumsy, or even mean. Louis’s wife has trouble dealing with death and appears to be passing it on to their daughter, so when the family cat gets run over the Louis ends up beginning a chain of events with tragic consequences.
In addition to the main story of the power of the land near Louis’s house, King also features one of his creepiest backstories for a character, with Rachel’s family and her dead sister Zelda being a creepy and sympathetic character all at the same time. In addition to Zelda, the stories about other Pet Sematary resurrections are sprinkled throughout the book. The character of Jud reminded me of my favorite Heinlein characters, a man who has all the wisdom in the world but requires a few drinks to share it.
Although I’m not a huge fan of the zombie genre, I’d say this and 28 Days Later are the best examples of taking the idea of the zombie and making an original and compelling story out of it. *Spoiler alert* The final confrontation between Gage and Louis was perfectly written, with a small child being unable to really pose a threat to an adult ready to handle him, but the final moments after the fight were unbelievably sad and enough to at least understand why Louis makes the decisions he does afterwards. I’m still choked up thinking about it.