Book Review: Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Rating:  ★★★★

I’m going to write a spoiler laden review here, because this book is older than I am.  You’ve been warned.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King.  That one time, the movie was better than the book.

I can’t believe I just said that about a Stephen King book.  The thing is- most movies based on Stephen King books just suck.  Sometimes, if we’re really lucky, like in the case of The Green Mile, the movie will be at least as good, but I’ve never, ever, said the movie was better. (I’m excluding IT, because I’ve never technically finished reading IT.)

I always read the author notes or introductions or whatever else there is to read in a book.  There was a wonderful little intro to this, a letter from Stephen King to his constant readers, in which he introduces Pet Sematary as the book he personally thinks is the scariest he’s ever written.  The one book in which he felt he might have actually gone too far.

And having already watched the movie, I could completely understand.  Because the movie was fucked up.  In a good way.  I was pretty much stunned into silence at the end.  It did feel like the movie went too far.  It was one of the best horror films I think I’d seen in a long time.

And with the ending in mind, I happily jumped into the book.  I patiently waited through 400 pages of the mundanities (spell check is telling me this is not a word, I’m making it a word) of everyday family life in small town Maine.  And I actually did enjoy most of it.  I liked Louis as a character.  I loved Jud.  I loved the backdrop and the creepy Pet Sematary, and loved knowing how King came to write the novel.

There is very little action in the book.  Sure we get a few glimpses of the horror to come- Church the cat, Pascow’s ghost, the ORINCO truck.  But nothing really happens until the end.  This is the slow burn he’s so well known for.

I think, maybe, if I had read the book before the movie, I might have felt more surprise and more suspense.  I watched Pet Sematary knowing nothing about it.  I read Pet Sematary thinking I knew what was going to happen.  So all the parts where Louis is in the graveyard digging up his two-year old, Rachel forging ever onward to her untimely demise, I get the sense the reader was supposed to be thinking, OMG NO!, but the impact might have been a little lost on me.

The thing is- I was expecting the book to languor in the horror of an evil two year old going all stabby stabby.  I was expecting there to be some slow realization by Louis that what he’d brought back was, in fact, not his son.  I was expecting there to be a longer ending.

What actually happened, is that Louis seems to surface from whatever fever dream possessed him to bring his son back from the dead in the first place, makes a very clear choice to undo his mistake, and then lapses right back into the fever dream.

It almost felt like, to me, King thought, “Oh shit, I’ve gone too far.  I should probably wrap this up.”  And then wrapped it up.  The whole ending, in this 500+ page book, takes maybe 30 pages?  It was disappointing to say the least.

Especially knowing what I know about King’s work.  There are times when it seems like he’s gone too far.  The opening to Mr. Mercedes for example, exploring all the gory and gruesome details of a sociopath driving a car into a crowd of people in need.  Or that short story he wrote, Survivor Type, which I read 15 years ago at my mother’s kitchen table on a sunny summer day and still gives me nightmares.

This, in comparison to those things, in comparison to it’s own movie, seemed tame.

That being said, though I was disappointed with the ending, I did enjoy most of the book.  And I read through all 500 pages insanely fast.  So- it’s worth reading, sure.  Just don’t read it after you’ve seen the movie.  Or if you can’t wait, just don’t expect the book to match the movie.  You’ll end up a little disappointed.

Pet Sematary can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

September Challenge: Mythothon

I first heard about this fun Norse themed readathon from Nicole @ Book Wyrm Knits (thank you!).  I have a hard time resisting anything Norse themed, so I decided to play along too.

This readathon is hosted by Foxes and Fairy Tales, and if you’d like to join in, please check out the information and sign up thread here.

Rules

If it can be added on Goodreads, it counts — novellas, graphic novels, audiobooks etc. are all fair game.

One book per square.

Your TBR can change over the course of the readathon.

There are a couple of different ways to play: it’s entirely up to you! Get a five-in-a-row bingo line, tackle the Nine World prompts in the centre (blue) or challenge the gods around the outside (yellow). This should mean you can increase or decrease how challenging you make your month.

mythothongrid

I don’t have as much time for reading as I’d like too, so I’m going to start small and see how far it takes me.  I’ve decided to go for a five-in-a-row (row three, going across).  If you’d like to read the prompt for each square, please check out the sign up thread I’ve linked above.

HEIMDALL, GUARDIAN OF THE BIFROST: Read an LGBT+ book.

Overthrow by Caleb Crain

Overthrow by Caleb Crain – I lucked out and won this in a giveaway, and the publishers were kind enough to send it ASAP.  This is about a group of friends who develop some special abilities, and have a run in with a security contractor, and the legal and political consequences of that run in.

JOTUNHEIM – LAND OF THE GIANTS: Read a long book.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky – 720 pages.  That qualifies as long right?!  This book is already getting some hype, so my explanation is probably not needed, Imaginary Friend is a literary horror novel about a boy who wanders into the woods and returns six days later with an imaginary friend… I absolutely can’t wait for this one, I’m just hoping I can cram it in before the end of September!

ASGARD – LAND OF THE ÆSIR GODS: Read any book you choose!

A Pilgrimage of Swords by Anthony Ryan

A Pilgrimage of Swords by Anthony Ryan – Ryan is an author I’ve been meaning to check out for quite some time.  And to be honest, I’m going to need a short book in here because to balance out the long one.  A veteran warrior named Pilgrim, armed with a fabled blade, embarks on a quest to request that the Mad God hear his prayers and absolve him of his sins.

VANAHEIMR – LAND OF THE VANIR GODS: Read an award-winning or nominated book.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Pet Sematary by Stephen King – Nominated for two awards, the Locus and the World Fantasy award in 1984… I watched the movie recently and I am anxious to get started!

LOKI, GOD OF MISCHIEF: Read a standalone novel.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – About a girl who finds a book with secrets just waiting to be discovered.  I think.  The blurb is enticing but vague.  Either way- I can’t wait!

Are you planning on joining this readathon?  Leave me a link below so I can see what exciting reads you have planned for September!