Book Review: Pet Sematary by Stephen King

I discovered my worst fear when I was around 10 years old.

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I discovered my worst fear when I was around 10 years old.

My dad was showing me some psychology facts, and one of the facts in question was that time seems to past faster and faster as you age.

It was accompanied by a video visualization of the idea, a short film depicting a girl blowing out birthday candles each year, first as a baby, then as a toddler, then as a 10-year-old, and as she got older, the time in between each scene decreased exponentially.

And I found (and continue to find) this idea terrifying.

I mean, think about it. Every year, your life passes by faster and faster, like you are accelerating towards a cliff. And how am I supposed to enjoy my life knowing about THIS? It is one of the several facts I wish I could erase from my head.

And with that context, let’s talk about Pet Sematary.

About the Book

Title: Pet Sematary

Series: (standalone)

Author: Steven King

Published: 1983

Genre: horror

Rating: 4.5/5

The Premise

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Despite Ludlow’s tranquility, an undercurrent of danger exists here. Those trucks on the road outside the Creed’s beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing…as is evidenced by the makeshift graveyard in the nearby woods where generations of children have buried their beloved pets.

Then there are the warnings to Louis both real and from the depths of his nightmares that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard where another burial ground lures with seductive promises and ungodly temptations. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there—one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful. As Louis is about to discover for himself: sometimes, dead is better…

My Thoughts

I was reverse-psychology-ed into reading Pet Sematary by the fact that Stephen King has called it his scariest book and has stated that he initially though it was too dark to be published. So of course, I simply had to pick it up.

And yes, I would say it is probably the scariest fictional book I have read (nonfiction scares me more than any kind of fiction) and it was definitely scarier than The Shining which I didn’t think was particularly scary.

It is also based on a period of King’s real life and an event that almost happened to his family. That’s very vague, but I don’t want to give spoilers.

When they’re watching a horror movie, everyone in the audience knows the hero or the heroine is stupid to go up those stairs, but in real life they always do—they smoke, they don’t wear seat belts, they move their family in beside a busy highway where the big rigs drone back and forth all day and all night.

Pet Sematary is a slow-burn book, but I still was not able to put it down.

I finished this 500+ page novel in two days, at the expense of my homework. I came home from school one day and just read for three hours to finish it because I was so invested in the story.

The central theme of the novel is death and grief, and it concerns itself with one question in particular: how far would you go to get someone back?

Reading Pet Sematary feels like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

You know none of it is going to end well, but you can’t tear yourself away. The feeling of unease and dread intensifies as the story goes on, and you feel the characters hurtles towards a point of no return. It is very well-written psychological horror.

And what’s really scary about this novel isn’t the supernatural elements. It’s not the cursed cemetery or the strange events or the monsters: it’s the examination of mortality.

As a doctor, he knew that death was, except perhaps for childbirth, the most natural thing in the world. Taxes were not so sure; human conflicts were not; the conflicts of society were not; boom and bust were not. In the end there was only the clock, and the markers, which became eroded and nameless in the passage of time. Even sea turtles and the giant sequoias had to buy out someday.

(As Kamala Harris would say, when you think about it, there is great significance to the passage of time… sorry, couldn’t resist…)

I don’t usually get bothered by horror novels, but there was one scene in particular that I found to be extremely scary in this book– and it was not one of the zombie parts. Although to be fair, I was at one point suddenly slightly uncomfortable to hold my dog on my lap.

(my very much not evil, very much alive dog)

The Verdict

Yes, it is quite scary, in my opinion, but Pet Sematary is also a very very good book. I’d definitely recommend it to you if you want to creep yourself out. Maybe around Halloween.

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2 comments on “Book Review: Pet Sematary by Stephen King”

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