A young doctor, Louis Creed, moves with his family to rural Maine where he discovers an ancient burial ground with the ability to resurrect the dead.
Sometimes dead is better.
Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. His work has terrified me since I was a child with television and movies like IT and The Shinning, though King disavowed the Kubrick film. In the forward in the 2018 audiobook, which I consumed in my car, King considered Pet Sematary to be his scariest book. For me, that honor goes to Misery but a tale of resurrected children going after their parents with scalpels is nothing to read before bed. I listened to the audiobook, read by Michael C. Hall (Dexter) which upped the creep factor by about a thousand.
However, if you’re just reading Pet Sematary for creepy cats an children or iconic lines delivered in the thickest Maine accent then you’re missing out on King’s real genius. Pet Sematary isn’t about a problematic Indian burial ground (I get it was written in the 80s but yikes) that resurrects pets and people as homicidal zombies with knowledge of their victims’ deepest fears and secrets.
[Spoilers} Pet Sematary is about death and the terrible price people pay when they try to ignore it. Louis’s wife, Rachel, developed an extreme phobia of death after witnessing her older sister’s long illness and eventual passing at the tender age of eight. She refuses to attend funerals and becomes enraged when her daughter is introduced to the concept of mortality via the pet semetary. Her son’s violent death in a hit and run forces her to confront death again in horrible immediacy. Her husband’s refusal to accept death results in Rachel’s demise at the hands of her resurrected son, possibly his own. King posits that the burial ground itself caused the deaths it undid, but the entire plot could have been avoided if the characters just accepted the inevitable deaths of their loved ones. Or if the Creed family had installed a perimeter fence around their highway adjacent properties.
Either way, Pet Semetary is an exciting and spooky tale, definitely worth a read and re-read. I will definitely see the film adaptation in April.
And now, The Ramones