Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Sometimes dead is better….When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son — and now an idyllic home. As a family, they’ve got it all…right down to the friendly cat.But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth — more terrifying than death itself…and hideously more powerful.
It’s probably wrong to believe there can be any limit to the horror which the human mind can experience. On the contrary, it seems that some exponential effect begins to obtain as deeper and deeper darkness falls—as little as one may like to admit it, human experience tends, in a good many ways, to support the idea that when the nightmare grows black enough, horror spawns horror, one coincidental evil begets other, often more deliberate evils, until finally blackness seems to cover everything. And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sanity.
In my teens, Stephen King has crafted my nightmares. I am masochistically glad to say that in my adulthood, that has not changed.
He had been responsible for my bedtime routine. Close all doors, bathroom, closet. Check under bed, a terrifying prospect as it stands. Make sure blanket is firmly tucked in at the feet – who knows what creatures might reach up to grab or nibble on them. Make sure blanket is firmly tucked in on all sides, so that only the head is exposed. And still, all that preparation for the battle that is bedtime is nigh useless as the nightlights cast shadows that turn into shadowy creatures in the depths of night. Glints of light cast upon objects are spun by a restless mind into monsters.
It has been years since I’ve read a Stephen King book. That’s because my attention span is much shorter now. It craves the quick denouément, a fast-paced plot. Action action action. I confess that this book did plod along in some parts for me, but despite all that, there is no doubt in my mind that King is a master at building atmosphere. He is tremendously skilled at crafting characters, at making them human, at making them relatable in their poignancy, with moments like a father explaining the inevitability of death to his young child. I think we can all relate to that moment.
He held her and rocked her, believing, rightly or wrongly, that Ellie wept for the very intractability of death, its imperviousness to argument or to a little girl’s tears; that she wept over its cruel unpredictability; and that she wept because of the human being’s wonderful, deadly ability to translate symbols into conclusions that were either fine and noble or blackly terrifying. If all those animals had died and been buried, then Church could die (any time!) and be-buried; and if that could happen to Church, it could happen to her mother, her father, her baby brother. To herself. Death was a vague idea; the Pet Sematary was real.
In the texture of those rude markers were truths which even a child’s hands could feel.
I would say half the book isn’t a horror in a traditional sense, but an exploration of human grief and behavior, and human nature itself can be quite terrifying.
That isn’t to say that this book isn’t filled with moments that makes a chill run down your spine.
The wind pushed and pulled its fingers through his hair, and for a moment the old, childlike fear of the dark rushed through him, making him feel weak and small and terrorized. Was he really going into the woods with this corpse in his arms, passing under the trees where the wind walked, from darkness into darkness? And alone this time?
I’ve long since outgrown my nightly monster-prepping ritual, but I know tonight I won’t be sleeping easily.
“I brought you something, Mommy!” he screamed. “I brought you something, Mommy! I brought you something, I brought you something!”