When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic and rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Yet despite Ludlow’s tranquility, there’s an undercurrent of danger that 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 pet cemetery out back in the nearby woods. 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. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there—one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful. An ominous fate befalls anyone who dares tamper with this forbidden place, as Louis is about to discover for himself.
There is a reason why Stephen King ranks Pet Sematary as one of the scariest books he’s ever written. The idea for the book came from his experience living in rural Maine. A worst-case scenario meets what if when his young son is almost hit by a truck on a busy street across from his house.
Louis Creed and his family, wife Rachael and children Ellie and Gage, move from Chicago to their new home in Maine. Life seems perfect with Louis’s new job as a college physician, a beautiful New England home with a large backyard that abuts a sacred Native American land, a Pet Sematary, and friendly neighbors–Jud and Norma. When Louis witnesses the tragic death of Victor Pascow, he is later haunted by Pascow’s ghost who visits him at night and shows him the barrier at the Pet Semetary that must not be crossed.
I don’t want to spoil too much, but needless to say that this Pet Semetary has more than meets the eye and when the family cat, Church, is run over by a truck and dies, Louis will consider the unthinkable just to make his family happy.
I first read Pet Sematary when I was in my early teens. I remember being horrified by it. I remember watching the first Pet Sematary movie made in the early 90s and not being able to sleep at night. Re-reading it again in 2019 has been a completely different experience, but not any less horrifying. If anything, it scared me a lot more now that I have children and cats!
The book is structured in three parts all from Louis’s point of view. The climax comes closer to the end of the book, but as always, Stephen King is a master at building suspense. He spares no one of his descriptions full of horror and the macabre. The plot of this book is every parent’s nightmare, and the magic of this story is that King is so good at making all these characters so relatable. I recall reading parts of this book that seemed completely insane and thinking, “I can see why he’s doing it.”
Although there is a new Pet Sematary movie coming out this month. I feel less than thrilled about seeing it. The movie trailer showed that a central element in the plot is completely changed for this movie version.
Pet Sematary, the book, will still go down as one of the best pieces of horror fiction ever written, and it still ranks in my top five all-time best horror books.
“Sometimes dead is better”