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4.5 out of 5 stars
Pet Sematary
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on 18 February 2001
This is probably not the most sophisticated or deeply plotted Stephen King book - it is one of his early works and that shows. Pet Sematary is, however, the most absorbing and haunting novel I have ever read and is full of a black humour that remains with you long afterwards.
The concept is simplicity itself - happy all-American family move to their dream house in rural Maine and make friends with the kindly old couple across the street. This, of course, is the world of Stephen King - so everyone has a secret and nothing is quite as it seems. The one thing you can be sure of is that nobody is likely to live happily ever after...
The book is certainly bleak and not to be recommended if you're feeling depressed ! But, however intense the emotions that it evokes, the joy of meeting some of King's most believable and sympathetic characters and the experience of discovering just what is out there in the woods behind the Creed house are certainly worth it.
I have read this book countless times, but have never forgotton the pleasure of discovering it initially, when every plot development was new. If you are about to read Pet Sematary for the first time I envy you - enjoy !
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2011
Well i very rarely write reviews of books, as i feel everybody has their own taste, but i'm making an exception for this perticular novel as i have just finished reading it and have been utterly blown away.
I won't describe the plot in too much detail, mainly as its quite hard to go into too much detail without giving it away, but what i will say is this; Louis Creed and his family move into a new house next to a busy main road, and are introduced by a neighbour to a pet 'Semetary' in the woods near the house. But it's no ordinary 'semetary'. I won't say any more than that, but if your a fan of Stephen King then you know what to expect. If your not a fan, then make an exception for this one book. Lots of books describe themselves as horror, but lets face it, very rarely does a BOOK actually scare a reader. But this Book. Wow. If you want a book that will scare you, and leave you utterly disturbed, this is it. Forget 'The Shining', 'It', and all his famous others. This is his most disturbing horror novel.
Numerous times during reading it i had to take a time-out just to get reacquainted with the real world, as it truely sucks you in, all the way from the first page to the shocking climax. And many times i thought i had guessed where it was leading, only to be fooled by twists and turns on every corner.
Its the perfect length, just under 500 pages, so is a comfortable read, isnt too complicated or in-depth. Just a gripping, powerful, and disturbing read. If you want a book that will truely send shivers down your spine, and leave you debating 'what would i do in that situation?', then this is the book for you! Read it. Trust me. You won't be the same again!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
After hearing about the ‘Zombie Cat’ in Florida last week, and now a battle over who will keep him, I thought it must be a good time to dig out my copy of Pet Sematary. This book is slightly unusual in that over the years I have known loads of people who would not read a Stephen King book actually read and enjoy this.

To a certain degree this book feels real in terms of location due to the fact that King did base this on a place that his family once stayed at, and there was a pet cemetery misspelled as Pet Sematary by children there. For Mr King this book is what he considers his scariest, although when he last said that was some years back. Feeling that he had perhaps gone too far with this, I would disagree and say that he had hit the nail more or less straight on the head. Death is the end for all of us eventually, but if there is anything on the other side or if there is a chance of coming back no one knows, despite what certain religions and their leaders and followers would like you to believe. They haven’t been dead and then some time later came back to tell us what it was like, and before anyone thinks of some smart answer, remember Jesus may supposedly have been resurrected, but he didn’t stand around giving talks on what he experienced.

As usual King sticks to the tried and tested manner for horror success, and that is to make something that is firmly fixed and believable to us then have a supernatural element added. In this case what may be in the woods beyond the actual pet cemetery itself. So for Dr Louis Creed, when the pet cat dies and his neighbour across the road takes him on a journey into the woods where the cat then comes back to life, it is a relief not to have his daughter crying her eyes out at the cat’s sad demise. Of course the cat isn’t quite the same, but it makes an appearance of being nearly normal, so what could be the harm?

But how far would you go if you knew about this secret? Suppose your child or spouse died, would you try to bring them back? It is this question that ultimately is raised by this book, which makes it still quite current and a topic that is still much discussed today. It is only human nature that at some point someone, if they know this secret will try it on something slightly larger than a pet. As we all know Stephen King isn’t really the greatest when it comes to endings, but here he does quite well as he leaves us with something to ponder long after we have closed this book. In all this is something that unlike some of his earlier novels has stood the test of time and is still well worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2008
I have just finished this book and it was very good, not the best I have read by King (I keep that standard for 'Salem's Lot) but still a great read. The characters are very well drawn out as is the plot, which does take some time to get to 'point' but doesn't fail becaus eof this, in fact I would say that the suspense helps the plot along.

One problem I had with this novel though was the fact that once the climax stated it ended very quickly, a little too quickly to be honest which was why I only gave it 4 stars. King could have easily cut some of the middle out and allowed a bit more depth into the ending chapters.

Overall though, a very good read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
It is an on going debate amongst the Stephen King fan base which is his scariest story. For me it's got to be IT, but the two front runners of this arguement are two very different tales. One, of course, is The Shinning. And the other is Pet Sematary. Stephen King himself said that after writing Pet Sematary he felt as if he had finally gone too far - and its easy to see why the thought that. He even went as far as sticking in a drawer and forgetting about it - never supposing it might actually get published. It's that bleak.

Pet Sematary is as far from a thrill-ride as you can get. Its not a knock-down, drag-out roller coaster of suspense and terror. Rather, it is a slow burning, ever escalating cauldron of unease and dread, that is slow to come to the boil, but scolds you when it finally does. Gripping in a way that I have never quite experienced in a book - I can only explain the experience as somewhat similar to the charity work people do with terminally ill children - you know tragedy is inevitable, but you can't leave the side of the characters until everything has been seen through.

The ending is all important to this book, and lynch pins the entire story. If King had got it wrong, the entire book would have been a massive waste of time. As it is, the ending is one of the most memorable I am likely to ever experience; a terrifying crescendo that had me clenching my teeth and squeezing the pages. While reading Pet Sematary, if you think you have the ending guessed, I can tell you now that youre most likely wrong.

Of course there are the typical Stephen King draw backs that you find in every single one of his novels, without fail. The story is probably a little too drawn out, and there are long passages of self indulgence that could have easy been shortened, and not to mention those irritating tangents he goes on occasionally that have you screaming "Get back to what's important!". But hey, all those of us who return to Stephen King's stories time and again expects them and abide by them, so as to experience a tale that is bound to leave some mark on you.

And Pet Sematary does that better than most.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 1999
My advice to you is not to read this book whilst sitting alone in the house at night with only the cat for company because i can guarantee you that you will not be able to sleep.
This is the story of Dr Lous Creed, his wife Rachael and their two children, Ellie and Gage who move from Chicago to Ludlow, Maine. Here they become friends with an elderly couple across the street, Jud and Norma Crandall. One night Jud takes Louis up to the Pet Sematary and beyond to a magicial place, an indian buiral ground. From here on in this is truly Stephen King at his best.
I realised that this was not the best book to take to read on holiday whilst lying on a sundrenched beach, with nothing much to occupy my mind with during the day i found at night my imagination running wild and have to admit to having to sleep with the lights on.
After having read this book ask yourself one question - If you were in the same position as Louis Creed whould you do the same thing?
My answer: Under the circumstances and bearing the state of my mind, then probably yes. Quite a frighting thought.
If you are Stephen King's Number One Fan than this book is a MUST HAVE!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2002
An excellent BBC adaptation. The production quality and music are excellent, and the performances from the cast are superb. Genuinely creepy, this one can be enjoyed many times over, and doesn't disappoint. Well worth buying.
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on 3 June 2014
lassic Stephen King, and a must for any fan, and also a very good introduction for anyone wanting to give King a go and may be 'frightened off' by horror books.

Dr Louis Creed moves from Chicago to Maine to be the University's resident doctor, and with his with and young children, moves into a house in a small town in the countryside. Everything seems perfect with the house and Louis and his wife Rachel are happy they can bring their children up in this sheltered environment. They become friends with their neighbour, Jud who tells him about the history of the town. He also warns them about the road which runs through town - not very busy, but trucks who come through are a danger and many local pets get killed on that road. There is a pet cemetery behind Louis' house where all the pets get buried how have been run over on that road.

So, you can almost guess what happens next…one day when Rachel is out of town with the children, the family's pet cat Churchill gets run over on the road. Louis is very upset and can't think of how to tell Rachel and the children and he seeks advice from Jud. Jud than takes him to the pet cemetery, and shows Louis an ancient burial ground from an Native American tribe which is just behind the pet cemetery. They bury Churchill the cat in that ancient burial ground. The next day, Churchill walks back into the house…but nothing is as it was. And Churchill will not remain the last victim of the road.

This is one of King's earlier books. When the realisation hit me about what is going on here, I was a bit shocked and stunned, and drawn to the story at the same time. You know, when you think 'Oh my god!' but can't stop reading at the same time. (I did first read it when it first came out so was not so much used to paranormal horror like this). How does he come up with stories like that - what an idea. I understand that King initially did not want to submit the book, thinking that he has maybe 'gone too far'. Well, I loved the idea behind it and hope you will as well.

As always, there are a few references to other King's stories in the book. Jud mentions to Louis a 'rabid St Bernard who's gone mad' - a reference to Cujo. Also, when Rachel drives back home, she sees a town sign 'Jerusalem's Lot' - mentioned in Salem's Lot.
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on 23 November 2011
You might either think this has one or two spoilers in it, or like me when reading reviews, think "he does What?! Does that really happen in it? Goodie Goodie" and be even more tempted to buy the book. Anyway, whatever, read on if you enjoy nice ramblings and a couple of spoilers.....

I finished Pet Sematary tonight, and as I neared the end of the book I was reading it brushing my teeth, reading it in the car in the works carpark if I was 5 mins early, reading it while also trying to watch Masterchef Australia...wow, I guess it must have been Good. I thought Id have a look at some peoples reviews who scored it low to see what they might have thought the less successful parts were, seen as summararily I enjoyed it so much. The main train of thought seems to be with the last couple of chapters that deal with the grand finale. And I partly agree...I thought the end seemed rushed too...when you see you havent many pages left to go you expect it all to finish with a grande finale to top all other episodes of fear and tenseness youve already experienced in the book, but the gage-zombie killing spree was a bit hurried, in a way that didnt shock so much as just leave you with a half formed image of whats just happened and with a feeling of "huh...what? Eh?". Its great when an author successfully builds up your relationship and empathy for a character, to then all of a sudden surprisingly kill them off (or have them suffer when you really dont want them to ala the character Del's execution gone horribly wrong in the Green Mile - ugh) as it doesnt half take you on an emotional rollercoaster with the book, but it felt like there just wasnt enough meat on the bones. For me the best part of the book was the event of Louis sneaking into the cemetary and exhuming his son - this, if i remember rightly now, seemed to last ages. There were loads of tense situations (the police patrolling in the car and he had to hide behind the tree, him nearly skewering himself on the railings and busting his knee, when he gets the grave open thinking for a second his sons head was missing, losing his car keys, the dog barking and nearly blowing his cover....) it was deliciously grisley and so tense and cumbersome you just kept thinking "doh ... doh...DOH!" Brilliant! And then to blow it all with a fizzle-pop of an ending compared to brilliance of the exhumation chapter was a bit of a let down. I thought the story jud told of that other dude that exhumed his son way back when was freakier, when they all went to his house and the zombie son was staring up at the red sky and then tells them in his gritty-demonic voice their dirty secrets really made me shiver. Much more scary than the scalpel wielding gage. I wish he'd strung it out more. Even the bit at the end were Rachel comes back from the grave...would have been freakier if she'd have gently put her cold dead hand on his throat from behind rather than his shoulder to really insinuate that the horror continues past the end of the book with the assumption she will in the end kill Louis would have been spookier!! I do think that anyone that has children, especially young ones at the time of reading, would find the book particularly chilling and hard to forget after switching off the bedside light. It raises good issues of how events of the past can leave an indellible mark psychologically for later in life. Also the love for your family that questions where would you draw the line to try and protect your family or when faced with grief and an opportunity to bring a loved one back against all sensibilities, if you could, would you not also take your chance. Chilling certainly, and some parts very delicate and tough to read and face up to, but as far as down right scary, perhaps not quite so much as I had thought it would be but still a good old yarn. Should have been creepier earlier on I think.

^ Some of this might not make much sense as I started writing it as a comment for another persons review, generally agreeing and adding a bit, but a bit turned into a lot so I copied it into my own review.

For the sake of a couple of quid just buy it and make yer own mind up
x
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Firstly, I'll hold my hands up and admit that this was my first Stephen King novel. I'll also admit that I'd worked myself into such a nervous frenzy about the whole thing, given King's reputation for delivering serious frights, that I actually put the book down after 100 pages and decided I wasn't reading any more. Well, I changed my mind in the sunny light of the next morning, and I'm so glad I did. It was excellent!

It opens with Louis Creed, a doctor, and his young family moving to a new house and meeting their neighbours, Jud and Norma Crandall. The Crandalls help them settle in, showing them the children's 'Pet Sematary' on the hillside behind their home, providing evenings of beer and conversation, and warning them about the dangers of the main road, where the huge Orinco trucks have claimed many pets over the years.

Things start to go awry when a young man is hit by a car and horrendously maimed, dying in Louis's arms in his university surgery. He begins to dream about the boy and the Pet Sematary, though he dismisses them as mere nightmares. A few months later his daughter's cat is hit by a truck and killed - and Jud finally shows him the town's dark secret: the Native American burial ground beyond the Pet Sematary where a terrible power lurks, watching, waiting, enticing...

Now, to me this all sounded terrifying. And at certain points it is, but not really in the gruesomely horrific way I had expected and feared. Of course it has its moments, but King is a master of weaving mind games, playing reality against hallucination and the world of dreams, using our deepest fears and the terror of what is NOT seen to elicit the chills and thrills for which he is famous. The same principle which makes the old psychological thrillers more haunting then their modern gore-splattered counterparts.

In fact, though it has occasional moments of genuine horror, I actually found this book deeply sad and very insightful. Its overarching theme is death - the fear of death, the acceptance of death, the nature and experience of grief, and the futility of humanity's attempt to cling to life even when nature is screaming for us to let go. The writing was beautiful - much more lyrical and evocative than I had expected - and I turned the last page with a deep chill of delicious dread and a profound sense of having read something far more worthwhile than I could have hoped. Looks like I'll be reading more Stephen King after all!
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