Mini Book Review: Pet Sematary, by Stephen King


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pet Sematary, by Stephen King, is a devistating and disturbing story of loss and grief. A horror that relies on the subtleties of what truly unsettles humanity, with a dash of outright terror and torment.


Synopsis: Dr Louis Creed has found the perfect home for his family, far from the busy cities in a peaceful pocket of Maine, where the land is large and quiet and the neighbours are friendly. The only cause for concern is the road, where every now and then a truck comes speeding down disturbing the peace and quiet. But surely this is not enough to ruin this beautiful new home.

On the other side of the house, far from the road, is a path. At the end of this path is a well kept cemetary, the ‘Pet Sematary’ as the children have named it. Year after year the innocent children of this small town maintain this Sematary and bury their beloved pets there when they die. It is a peaceful place, a safe place.

But something strange is occurring in Maine. Something that brings nightmares and destruction. Surely, the safe and peaceful Sematary is not at fault? Surely there is a reasonable explanation for what is happening? As Dr Creed struggles between logic and emotion, just how far will he go to protect those he loves, just how much does he believe?


Pet Sematary, by Stephen King is an incredibly harrowing and horrifying read. As always with King this is a slow burn horror, a significant amount of the blatant horrific events do not occur until the last quarter of the book, and yet I was hooked and intrigued right from the start. His writing is phenomenal, he knows how to capture your attention, and he maintains a good pace with a brilliant build up to the end event. His rich descriptions are powerful and immersive and his characters are interesting and engaging.

The plot of the story is unsettling and terrifying, the idea that what has died may come back is one thing we see it with zombies and vampires, the idea that they comeback seemingly the same but not quite is something else. The whole book has a dark tone with death and grief as the core and most obvious themes. From the day the Creed family move into their new home they are surrounded by death whether it is the threat of it on the road, the ‘sematary‘ behind their home, or the deaths that occur around them, it is a part of life and more importantly it is a part of their lives.

It is a unique story that deals with complex emotions, it is also one that is slightly predictable and yet not quite? You know what Louis is likely to do after tragic events and yet you don’t know how it will fully play out and a tiny part of you hopes he will stop. It is also unusual and unique in terms of the returning dead because they are not zombies or vampires, they are, in many ways, something much worse and nore tragic. There is a sense of darkness, a sense of dark magic that runs through the sematary and the Creed home which is never full placed it just is and it is evil. It’s a double-edged sword, it is temptation and freedom from grief but also horror that brings up the a depressing reality of death.

It was definitely an interesting and complex story that kept you hooked by building tension and sprinkling in smaller horrifying events, and the end sequence of events really hit you. The outright and blatant horror of the final scenes make the build up worth it and its incredibly unsettling and horrifying. It is clear why King himself claims this is one of his, if not the most, scariest books, because it is inherently terrifying and that combined with King’s own actual horror is unsettling and scary in many ways.

The characters are very interesting in this book, with Louis being the main focus. King is incredibly masterful when creating complex characters and Louis, Jud (his neighbour), and Ellie (his daughter) and probably the most developed in the book, Gage (Louis’ son) is relatively young and so has less development but an incredible amount of sympathy and emotional attatchment is created for/to him.

Louis is a brilliant character, well developed and crafted but I didn’t like him This, however, did not take away from the story or the character himself, and I still felt an incredible amount of sympathy for him in the novel towards the end so he was still an effective main character. It is likely the time period that makes me dislike him, the book is relatively old and so the characters still fit into those rigid gender roles and Louis can be quite commanding when it comes to his wife, this is what threw me a little . But, overall his character is effective, he is one you can sympathise with and by the end he does become a little more likable- you can truly see how grief destroys him and this was enough for me not to hate the character.

Rachel, the wife of Louis, is probably the least developed (in my opinion) the only scene where I truly appreciated her character was when she was trying to get back home, close to the end. This was unfortunate because her character is actually pretty fantastic, at least in this scene you can really see her determination, devotion and drive for her family but up until this scene she felt a little more like a background character to me.

Jud is brilliant. I loved his character he was quite the driving force in the plot, even unintentionally. His character was incredibly interesting because he is obviously knowledgeable and yet only lets on small amounts of information at a time. He was a very strong character who had a fantastic relationship with Louis.

Overall, the characters were incredibly interesting and supported the plot magnificently, particularly as they were the driving force behind it.

Overall, Pet Sematary is a brilliant, harrowing and terrifying read perfect for all fans of horror, specifically those who can appreciate the subtle horrific elements that are inspired by grief and death alongside enjoying the blatant horror in the story.


15 comments

    • Thank you!! Ooh I have Sleeping Beauties on my TBR for later this year! I hope you get the chance to read more, this one is really good, very cleverly done! Hope you enjoy!😊💜

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    • Thank you so much!! Awhh that is so kind of you to say! I haven’t watched the new film adaptation but I have read about it, it’s the one where they had the girl as the focus instead of Gage isn’t it? They made some interesting switches. 😊💜

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, they made the older sister the one who was brought back instead of Gage. I can see why – apart from the “Chucky” films, I can’t really see people taking a 2 year old demonic / violent / zombie monster seriously. It’s also less practical – would you CGI them? would you expect such a young actor to be able to deliver a convincing performance?

        I can understand why they did it, and there were some bits of the film I still liked. I saw it with my friends and there were some parts we thought didn’t make sense or looked silly. I think, overall, though the book is probably better.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I read about that. She also had quite a strong connection with Judd instead of her father too, I think. I can definitely see why they went with the daughter, a 2 year old child would definitely be more difficult to work with. Chucky, is definitely an exception. The daughter would also likely evoke more of an emotional response from the audience, even in the books she has a lot of focus on her with her dreams and general unease about her family dying, so it is a reasonable adaption.

          That makes sense, the book is usually better as there is more time, more detail and more buildup than in a movie. But it is nice to see the movie, overall, was ok – I may have to watch it at some point.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. […] Pet Sematary, by Stephen King (own copy) – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – An interesting and terrifying horror. This was a horrifying story of grief and how far a person would go to bring back the ones they love. In a dark and creepy story of the dead coming back, you begin to wonder if dead really is better. […]

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  2. What makes King’s books terrifying is that he creates characters you care about. I have not yet read Pet Sematary, but right now, I’m reading The Stand. And within a short amount of pages he creates a character you care about and then kills them off. It gives that uncomfortable feeling of losing a loved one, which helps rack in the fear. King gets fear right because these aren’t nameless people that are dying, but people with emotions and dreams.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, he spends a significant amount of time building up characters you can connect with and sympathise with in order to make their deaths more powerful, both in fear and in devastation. Pet Sematary does this very well with some of the key characters, as does Salem’s Lot. King is definitely a very good horror writer and knows how to create fear that goes beyond creating outright horror, he knows how to do so through the nuances of emotion. Thanks for commenting!

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      • In terms of characters, may I make a recommendation? Read the fantasy novels of Robin Hobb, starting with “Assassin’s Apprentice” of the Far Seer trilogy. She’ll introduce characters in her stories that you’ll only see briefly, especially in later books, and even though they are only in one or two chapters, you wish you could know more about them. Not because they die. Most don’t. But because like in life we may meet interesting people once but not see them again. I don’t know if that’s what she was going for, but that’s how it strikes me.

        In terms of Stephen King’s “The Stand,” he two would introduce characters for only a couple of chapters, characters you fall in love with and then ax them. Sometimes I think it makes you appreciate the characters that much more

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        • Robin Hobb’s “Assassins Apprentice” Series is on that has ben recommended to me a few times, I will definitely try them out at some point. That does sound like a very intriguing premise, it isn’t often an author will introduce interesting characters that you only see briefly, I look forward to seing how I feel about that. I like the way you have read it, as realistic brief encounters in life!

          I agree, it definitely does make you appreciate them more – character connections are key to evoking empathy and is essential to crafting fear in horror.

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  3. […] Mini Book Review: Pet Sematary, by Stephen King – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – The Pet Sematary is where the local pets are buried, or is it? When their beloved pet dies, he buries it in the sematary, and when it returns it isn’t quite normal. Grief and loss become a battle and when the dead rise again it becomes a question of who really came back? […]

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