King’s ‘Pet Sematary’ is worth the horror

While the horror genre is one that I have only recently started to delve my way into, my experience with reading is much more developed. Looking into the works of Stephen King was one of the best ideas that I have had to start myself off in the world of fear. He certainly set the bar high for those to follow on my list.

“Pet Sematary” starts the reader off directly in the same position as the young family—though the opening scene may be a bit over used.

The clichéd and common opening for stories of this sort starts with a family (probably one with fairly young children) moving into a new home that is completely perfect; or so it seems. Until the family pet dies and the mother or one of the daughters starts getting targeted by some demon t. Somebody dies. Other tragedies occur. And by the end of the book, nobody is left standing except one person, but because of the loss of his family, he’s completely lost all of his marbles. It’s common knowledge that this is an overused story line in the horror genre. But King did something miraculous with that story line by turning it into something completely unique and unexpected until the end.

Louis Creed is still a fairly young man with a young family, moving from Chicago, to Ludlow, Maine, for a job offer at a local college as head of University Medical Services. He has a pretty little wife, Rachel, and a daughter about 5 years old, Ellie, who starts school in the fall after they move into their new house.

Gage is the baby of the family, going on 2 years old. The family pet is the daughter’s tom cat, Winston Churchill (more commonly known as Church). The place they move into is a pleasant house with lots of room and a lovely old couple that lives across the highway, the Crandalls. Jud and Norma Crandall instantly take in the young family and become friendly faces in this new place. They constantly worry and warn the new people about the highway: “you best watch y’er cat and y’er young un’s ‘round that road there. Them big Orinco trucks come blastin’ by ‘round that corner goin’ mighty fast.”

A few strange things happen—no surprises there, this is a horror book after all—but all is peaceful for the most part. That is, until the cat gets hit by one of those Orinco trucks. And from there, all hell breaks loose and Louis learns that his happy little home isn’t what it was all cracked up to be.

One thing leads to another, and before I knew it, King was throwing in concepts that I, as a writer, would not have had the courage to breach. Not only does this story talk about things that are completely surface value, but it discusses deeper concepts such as mortality and, in some cases, the supernatural.

King’s work is obviously fiction, but it rings with an undeniable truth. While the story line might be a bit overused in the horror genre, the way King goes about telling it and the insight he provides about the mind of his characters, are what makes this story such a page turner.

Readers might love the characters, but not the choices they make. Readers also know how characters start out, which helps explain why they do what they do. Moving through the story, readers continue to hope the characters will pull through safely on the other side.

King has such a masterful way of weaving just the right amount of hope and reality together, that his stories seem much more real than they are. Not everyone loves horror stories, but there is no doubt this book is well worth the scare.

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