Book Review: Pet Sematary by Stephen King

My Stephen King journey continues, with the approaching movie adaptation, it was the turn of Pet Sematary

Book Description

‘SOMETIMES…DEAD IS BETTER’

The house looked right, felt right to Dr Louis Creed.

Rambling, old, unsmart and comfortable. A place where the family could settle; the children grow and play and explore. The rolling hills and meadows of Maine seemed a world away from the fume-choked dangers of Chicago.

Only the occasional big truck out on the two-lane highway, grinding up through the gears, hammering down the long gradients, growled out an intrusive threat.

But behind the house and far away from the road: that was safe. Just a carefully cleared path up into the woods where generations of local children have processed with the solemn innocence of the young, taking with them their dear departed pets for burial.

A sad place maybe, but safe. Surely a safe place. Not a place to seep into your dreams, to wake you, sweating with fear and foreboding.

My Thoughts

Pet Sematary is one of King’s earlier novels, his fourteenth, first published in 1983, and one that left me highly conflicted. The beginning of this novel was slow going, like real slow going, like why isn’t anything happening. And then, in the second half of the novel, things really started to pick up and I loved the ending. However, I’m becoming increasingly annoyed with having to wait for a book to ‘get good’, surely a book should hook the reader from the beginning, a more brutal reader would have abandoned the book before it ‘got good’ – I read this book as part of a readalong, and one reader did quit reading it! Perhaps, because this is a Stephen King novel, and I know just how great he can write, he got the benefit of the doubt, but this is something that is becoming increasingly frustrating, and I need to re-evaluate how much longer I’m willing to wait for a book to ‘get good’.

One thing always worth mentioning, whether you enjoy a King book or not, there’s no denying he has a way with words, this is likely what keeps me turning pages when the going gets tough. His books are never poorly written, it’s just sometimes a wait for the pace to pick up and events to start occurring. Whenever I read his books, there are always sentences, usually metaphors or similes, that jump out at me and make me smile.

“The first two swallows hit his throat like a blessing”

I may be wrong, but I’m sure King mentioned that The Shining was his favourite book of all the ones he’s written. And it seems to be so because quite a few of his books carry a bit of ‘the shine’, and if you’ve read The Shining you’ll know exactly what kind of intuition I’m talking about here. It’s always fun to spot the references and connections in King’s novels.

Pet Sematary, while it can be found in the horror section, isn’t scary, it had its creepy moments, but you don’t have to worry about any truly scary occurrings. Once this novel found its groove, it was really good and the ending was brilliant, although it ended rather rapidly, which was frustrating. The ending was so good, I wish the events were explored more, the way [the boring] earlier parts of the book were. 

When I finished this novel, my initial thoughts were: it starts a little slow, but it’s worth it. Now, I’m feeling rather mad – you can’t bore me for 200 pages, give me 100 pages of tension building, and then 100 pages of brilliance at the end – that doesn’t seem like the correct formula for a book. Would I read this book again? No. Would I recommend it? Well, no, I’d point you in the direction of Kings other, better, books, such as Needful Things or The Stand.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon UK / Book Depository

33 thoughts on “Book Review: Pet Sematary by Stephen King

  1. Great review! I wish you loved as much as I did bit he does go on in most books doesn’t he? Little bit of trivia, he never wanted this published because of the whole bringing babies back from the dead thing, I guess even King has a line but it was and it became so popular that he had to roll with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, he spoke a bit about this in the introduction of my edition saying this is his most scary book, in the sense that he feels he crossed a line with it! So popular, they’re even remaking the movie, I wonder how he feels about it now 🤔

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  2. I completely forgot someone quit on our read-along! I’m glad I held out for the whole book. While I’m not as angry about the slower sections, I do see it as an issue for a lot of readers. I think we live in a time where a ton of books are aiming for the thrills and plot twists, so it can be hard to embrace slower books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was just talking to someone about how we want books to hook us immediately, and are having less patience for slower starts – I think where my issue was, I don’t mind a slower pace if you’re giving me an intricate character study for example, but here it all felt ‘meh’ which is a shame because the second half was soo good!

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  3. I’ve added Pet Sematary to my TBR before the film comes out, I’m also trying to get round to reading IT, before the 2nd instalment later this year, topped with all my other Stephen King ones to read! I might just revert back and read The Shining for the 10th time!

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    1. I read IT last year for the first time and I really enjoyed it! And wow, you’ve read The Shining a lot, is it your favourite King book? I preferred Doctor Sleep, absolutely loved it, it’s the move adaptation I’m most excited for! 😊

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  4. Really interesting review Janel! I’m so sorry it took you so long to get gripped by it. ☹️ I haven’t actually read this one for about fifteen years so I’d be interested to find out if I’d feel the same as you. 🤔 What about that ending though?! 😱

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes that ending 😳 That’s the whole reason I want to watch the new movie adaptation to see how they show it! Wow 15 years, it would be interesting to see if your thoughts have changed. There’s bumps in the road but I’m really enjoying my King journey, Duma Key in Feb 😊

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  5. Ah, i read this one multiple times. Love it! So creepy, gets me every time 😀 Sorry it didn’t work for you. I agree the beginning is a bit slow tho. I need to be in a certain mood for that kinda thing.

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  6. Thanks for the honest review, I love my Stephen king, as I’m sure you do to. I just finished my 15th Stephen king novel, that I have read, and become more deeply in love with his writing style with every page I turn. Thanks for the review, I seemed to enjoy Pet Sematary a but more than you did, but nonetheless, I love the honesty. Great review (;

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree when you say the book isn’t scary but creepy. I just finished rereading it and can’t help but love it. It was my first time reading Stephen king any horror, tbh. Beautifully written post.!

    Liked by 1 person

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