“Sometimes dead is better.”
Above sits the tagline for one of the most talked about novels of all-time, that being Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Originally released in 1983, the book is considered to be one of the scariest pieces of literature out there, not to mention one of the most frightening and disturbing from King’s own, massive body of work. Some even say that it’s the best thing he’s ever written. Ask the author and he’ll tell you that it almost didn’t get published because he, himself, thought that it was too dark, scary and disturbing.
Yes, Pet Sematary almost never saw the light of day, but was dug out of a drawer to satisfy a publisher’s contract that said Stephen King still owed one book before he could move on. The result is history. If it wasn’t for that contract requirement, and people telling the author that the novel was okay to publish, it may never have seen the light of day. What a shame that would’ve been.
Pet Sematary, with its purposefully misspelled title, is the story of the Creed family. There’s the father, Dr. Louis Creed, the mother, Rachel Creed, the young daughter Ellie, and the even younger infant son, Gage. Together, they’ve moved from Chicago to the small town of Ludlow, Maine, where Dr. Creed has obtained a job as a physician at the local university’s medical centre.
The house that the Creed family has chosen to settle into is a rural one, which is bordered by large fields and few neighbours. In front lays a very dangerous and busy road called Route 15, which is a haven for speeding truckers driving massive rigs, and behind it resides a deep, massive and mysterious forest. Therein lays the Pet Sematary, where Louis is told that local kids have buried their beloved dogs, cats, birds, pigs and more for many decades. Not only that, but the kids also tend to the pathway with precision and regularity, making sure that it’s mowed and neat during every spring, summer and early fall season.
There is something haunting about the Sematary, and the woods that lay beyond them. Something that isn’t quite natural. Ludlow isn’t a normal town, either, as its most friendly historian, neighbour Jud Crandall confesses. The Creed family learns all about these things during the pages of this book.
This is a story of love, death, grief and what such things can drive a person to do. It is a frightening, memorable, and iconic piece of work that will not only stand the test of time, but will not be forgotten by anyone who’s read it, or will read it going forward. With this book, Stephen King has released something that gets inside of you and doesn’t leave; something that will make you question how much you care for the people around you. It helps, of course, that the book is very well written and contains some very insightful ways of thinking about, talking about and explaining death, faith and other similar things. Words that really stuck out to this reader upon his first time delving into this particular piece of fiction.
It will be interesting to see how this very good and must read horror story will be interpreted on the big screen this very weekend, when the new, 2019 Pet Sematary movie debuts across North America. That said, if you haven’t read the book, please try to do so first. You won’t regret it. I personally regret watching the original 1989 movie before ever setting eyes on this book. Then again, I was just a kid.
**The publisher provided us with a copy of this book, for review purposes.**