‘Pet Sematary’ is much more than a horror story

Jennifer Reinfried, Business Director

“Sometimes, dead is better.” This ominous and flat-out blatant warning comes from one of my favorite Stephen King characters, Jud Crandall. It sets the tone of the novel, “Pet Sematary,” right off the bat.

It makes you sit back and consider the thought. Most of all, though, it brings to mind a delicate question: is he right?

This is exactly what Dr. Louis Creed, our likable yet sometimes frustrating protagonist comes to deal with.

He and his family – wife Rachel, daughter Ellie, and young son Gage – quickly meet and grow to love their elderly neighbor Jud, who likes to impose a bit too much at times, although always with care in his heart.

When Louis’ daughter’s cat is killed on the dangerous road (couldn’t the town, I don’t know, reduce the speed limit or something?) between their house and Jud’s, the old man takes it upon himself to show Louis the Pet Sematary.

The spelling of cemetery, by the way, is mangled on purpose. King says, as the place was mostly used by children burying their beloved pets, it made sense to him to spell it the way a child might. In my opinion, however, it makes searching for the book online quite annoying.

But back to the story. There is the regular cemetery for kids’ pets to be buried, but Jud takes Louis further, much further, to an old burying ground that, we come to realize, Louis has been warned about throughout much of the beginning. He, of course, doesn’t put two and two together, and follows Jud’s instructions.

The next morning, here comes the family cat, alive, albeit not, well, normal anymore. It’s more of a zombie cat that mutilates birds and mice and generally has a horrendous attitude (even for a cat). This should be another giant,

glaring, obvious warning not to meddle with death and resurrection, but sadly, this is only the beginning of Louis’ downfall and the destruction of his happy life.

It is widely known that Stephen King is a master of horror, and yet “Pet Sematary” isn’t scary.

Instead, it grabs a hold of you from the very beginning without you even noticing, and slowly empties you; I compare it to a dementor from Harry Potter sucking at your soul as you read on. It is a tale of despair and bad decisions that lead to even worse consequences.

King’s fantastically woven story seems to just be a typical horror book on the outside, but successfully attaches you to characters then watches gleefully as you curse the novel you clutch, begging Louis and the others not to do what you already know in the back of your mind they will accomplish regardless.

As with many King stories (novels and shorts alike), I do highly recommend this. However, you might want to take a lively stroll through a sunny, well-populated park, watch a bunch of hilarious cat fail videos, or play with some puppies afterward.