Pet Sematary burial ground

Having only read two other Stephen King books, as well as his memoir On Writing, I still consider myself new to his fiction. Reading Pet Sematary has reinforced why Stephen King is considered such a masterful writer. Now I know that I need to read as much of his catalogue as possible during my life span.

Pet Sematary follows family man Louis Creed’s move from Chicago to Ludlow as he becomes the director of the University of Maine’s health service. He moves to the small town of Ludlow with his wife Rachael, daughter Ellie and toddler Gage. They also have a family cat named Church, named after Winston Churchill. Shortly after moving in, the family is introduced to the pet cemetery by their friendly neighbour Jud Crandall. Later on, Louis finds out the uncanny secrets that lie just beyond the pet cemetery.

The plot in Pet Sematary isn’t complex, but the delivery of the story is phenomenal. Stephen King has a talent for making the reader care about these characters. He’ll make you get behind them, right before he breaks them down. You’ll find yourself pleading with them on a sub-conscious level; coaching them on what to do and what not to do. King makes you care about the characters so that what follows will cause his readers anxiety.

A scene from the Pet Sematary film

Stephen King is also a master of metaphors. Metaphors can cheapen a book, but King’s use of metaphors is superb and they help to paint the scene. They provide a visual aid for you to imagine exactly what is occurring. The delivery of these metaphors made me further appreciate his craft.

Another thing that King is a master of is planting seeds. It’s not exactly foreshadowing, it’s more the narrative voice telling you exactly what is about to happen. While also making you care enough to keep turning the pages to see how it unfolds. This isn’t something that’s overused, but the times he does this are well executed.

Pet Sematary didn’t scare me, but it certainly gave me chills. There are many uncomfortable scenes, much of them including corpses. If these are themes you’re not used to reading about then you may find it disturbing. For me, it wasn’t so much about what was happening in these scenes, it was how King painted the picture that made me cringe. He knows exactly which strings to pull.

If I was tasked to suggest one novel for someone to understand why Stephen King is regarded so highly, Pet Sematary would be that book. It’s shorter than some of his other books and the writing is so well put together.

It’s surprising that Stephen King didn’t even want to publish this book. Originally, King shelved it because he and his wife thought it too dark and disturbing. However, later on there was a need for him to provide a book to his publisher for contractual obligations. This is when King decided to send Pet Sematary to his editor, who loved the book. The book was a success upon publication, and it’s not hard to understand why. Do yourself a favour and read this book.

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Pet Sematary book cover

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