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Pet Sematary: Book Review

By Robert Russell


In light of the film reboot set to be released in theaters in April, I figured I would give Stephen King’s 1983 novel a good and thorough read. After the first chapter, I was hooked, but little did I know what I had gotten myself into.

            King tells the tale of the Creed family beginning a new life. All seems well in Ludlow Maine, until Louis Creed, the father of the household, starts to learn the eerie history that runs deep below the perfect, pristine surface of the town. The ancient, Native American burial grounds beyond his new backyard hold a dark and sinister power that Louis discovers firsthand after tragedy strikes the Creed family.

            In 560 pages, King manages to transform a tale of unspeakable tragedy into a harrowing and utterly heart-wrenching story. Stephen King has the gift to tap into the inner recesses of the human mind and extract the darkest horrors, which he does beautifully in “Pet Sematary.” He illustrates vividly just how unprepared we are to face unthinkable disaster.

            Caution: Spoilers ahead.

            Following are scenes from the book that I’m very curious to see adapted in the new film. The first, truly scary scene in the book is about Victor Pascow, a university student who is struck by a car and dies, yet comes back to Louis Creed in the form of a deranged and prescient apparition that tries to warn Louis of the dangers of the ancient burial grounds. Secondly, there is an incredible 30-page chapter in which Jud, the Creeds’ neighbor, takes Louis up to the burial grounds for the first time so he can bury his recently deceased cat. The trek itself, a few miles long, is a deep dive into the horrifying, pervading realm of the powerful, ancient grounds. The chapter had me on the edge of my seat, turning page after page. Later, following the terrible death of Gage, Louis’s son, Jud recalls the tale of Tim Batterman, a boy who died in the war but was brought back by the powers of the burial grounds. The story Jud tells is a graphic, distressing account of how a person is brought back from the dead is not the same person as before. And even further on, I saw exactly how that played out after Louis decided to test the theory that brought his son back to life.

            I’m eager to see this movie, as the book is simply magnificent. A few scenes that get honorable mentions include: the portrayal of Ellie Creed, Louis’s clairvoyant daughter; the scene in which Louis breaks into the graveyard to exhume his Gage’s body; and, of course, the finale of the story, where Gage comes back from the dead and wreaks havoc. I highly recommend reading the book before seeing the movie, and definitely read it right before bed. As cliché as it may sound, nothing beats the book. It was an enthralling read, and I can’t wait to see how this new film adaptation captures King’s incredible story.

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