Pet Sematary was published in 1983 by Stephen King. It has been adapted into a movie twice, in 1989 and 2019. According to the author, Pet Sematary was an abandoned book he submitted simply to honour a contract he entered earlier with a publisher he was about to abandon. In the introductory part, Kings says:
“When I’m asked (as I frequently am) what I consider to be the most frightening book I’ve ever written, the answer I give comes easily and with no hesitation: Pet Sematary.”
The story takes place mainly in semirural Ludlow, Maine, a small town in Chicago. Dr. Louis Creed moved in with his small family to this quiet city. In a compound, they bought is a pet cemetery (Pet Sematary) with many hidden stories. On their arrival at the compound, they were welcomed by an old neighbour Judson Crandall. And from the beginning of this story, things went wild.
Louis couldn’t find the key to their new home on alighting from their car. And
“while he hunted for them, growing increasingly irritated, Rachel (Louis’s wife) hoisted Gage (the last born) onto her hip and followed Eileen (the first daughter) over to the tree in the field. He was checking under the seats for the third time when his daughter screamed and then began to cry. ‘Louis!’ Rachel called. ‘She’s cut herself.’ Eileen had fallen from the tire swing and hit a rock with her knee.”
This was when the presence of their neighbour and a new friend to be, Mr. Judson, became handy, informing them he had a spare key to their house. He also later helped the family to get acclimatized. And one thing led to the other, and before they knew it, Dr. Louis and Mr. Judson became buddies, spending their evening sharing beers, and the children spending time with Judson’s wife, Mrs. Norma Crandall, who according to Eileen: “made the best oatmeal cookies I ever ate. But [unfortunately] she won’t make them anymore because she’s dead,” not yet at this point, of course.
And before commencing his work at the University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Louis and his family visited the pet cemetery with Mr. Judson. Judson, fondly called Jud, is an octogenarian who has spent all his lifetime, from his childhood to date within this village. And within these years, he has seen many children bury their animals in this mysterious pet cemetery. At this point, Mr. Judson referred to the Micmac burial ground. And afterward, he would tell them other scary stories about moose chasing people from Massachusetts and strangers disappearing in this cemetery. To have an idea of what the Pet Sematary is about, an incident that took place during their visit would be a good illustration:
“Ellie was climbing as if the blowdown was a bastard cousin to the monkeybars at school.‘Oh, honey, you want to come down off there!’ Jud called over, alarmed. ‘You stick your foot in the wrong hole and those old trees shift, you’ll break your ankle.’Ellie jumped down. ‘Ow!’ she cried and came toward them, rubbing her hip. The skin wasn’t broken, but a stiff, dead branch had torn her slacks.‘You see what I mean,’ Jud said, ruffling her hair. ‘Old blowdown like this, even someone wise about the woods won’t try to climb over it if he can go around. Trees that all fall down in a pile get mean. They’ll bite you if they can.’[…]”
And during his first day at the teaching hospital, they brought in a young student who had an accident. It was exactly here that Louis fully understood that the city was sinister. As the patient was dying, he warned him about the Pet Sematary. Louis, who was not religious, looked for a way of trivializing the entire situation.
But when he woke up the next morning and discovered that what he thought was a dream was a sleepwalk, he knew there was a danger. During that night, the dead student who spoke to him at the hospital, came to him, in what he initially considered a dream, and took him to the Pet Sematary.
And from these moments, the world turned around. And starting with the death of Church, their cat, Louis, crossing the threshold and once he stepped into the Micmac burial ground, he became someone else. From one lie to the other, death succeeded at this little Semirural Ludlow, Maine family and its neighbourhood. And at the fall of each member of his family, Dr Louis tried to defy death by going back to the Micmac burial ground. And, coming down, transformed into a phantom as Wendigo decided to step shift its lodge down to this little city.
Pet Sematary, or better still, the Micmac Burial Ground is King’s version of The Walking Dead. In this book, Stephen King, who glorifies himself as a horror writer, scribed something that scared him. The power of the book is King’s ability to render horror beautiful through his knack for storytelling. Every sentence he uses in the entire book communicates something so vivid that nothing can be ignored, not even the breath of invisible beings, and they abound in this horror package.
If anyone were to reproach King of anything about this book, it would have been his almost internal joy in ending all his stories in a moody tone. This, to be truthful to King, is not a weakness if we agree that he wanted to be known as a horror writer.