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Pet Sematary  
StephenKingPetSematary.jpg
First edition cover
Author Stephen King
Cover artist Linda Fennimore
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror novel
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date November 14, 1983
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 416
ISBN 0385182449
Preceded by Christine
Followed by Cycle of the Werewolf

Pet Sematary is a 1983 horror novel by Stephen King. It was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1984,[1] and was later made into a film.

The book is dedicated to King's agent, Kirby McCauley.

Contents

Plot summary

Louis Creed, a doctor from Chicago, moves to a house near the small town of Ludlow, Maine with his wife Rachel, their two young children, Ellie and Gage, and Ellie's cat, Winston Churchill ("Church"). Their neighbor, an elderly man named Jud Crandall, warns Louis and Rachel about the highway that runs past their house; it is used by trucks from a nearby chemical plant that often pass by at high speeds.

Jud and Louis become friends. Since Louis's father died when he was three, his relationship with Jud takes on a father-son dimension. A few weeks after the Creeds move in, Jud takes the family on a walk in the woods behind their home. A well-tended path leads to a pet cemetery (misspelled "sematary") where the children of the town bury their deceased animals. A heated argument erupts between Louis and Rachel the next day. Rachel disapproves of discussing death and she worries about how Ellie may be affected by what she saw at the cemetery. It is later explained that Rachel was traumatized by the early death of her sister, Zelda, from spinal meningitis.

Louis has a traumatic experience as director of the University of Maine's campus health service when Victor Pascow, a student who is fatally injured after being struck by an automobile, addresses his dying words personally to Louis even though they have never met. On the night following Pascow's death, Louis is visited by the student's walking, conscious corpse, which leads him to the cemetery and refers specifically to the "deadfall", a dangerous pile of tree and bush limbs that form a barrier at the back. Pascow warns Louis not to "go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to." Louis wakes up in bed the next morning convinced it was a dream, but discovers his feet and the bedsheets covered with dirt and pine needles. Louis dismisses the episode as a result of stress from Pascow's death coupled with his wife's anxieties about death. He dismisses the situation as a bout of sleep walking.

Louis is forced to confront death at Halloween, when Jud's wife, Norma, suffers a near-fatal heart attack. Thanks to Louis's immediate attention, Norma recovers. Jud is grateful for Louis's help and decides to repay him after Church is run over at Thanksgiving. Rachel and the kids are visiting her parents in Chicago, and Louis frets over breaking the news to Ellie. Jud takes him to the pet cemetery, supposedly to bury Church. Instead, Jud leads Louis beyond the deadfall to "the real cemetery": an ancient burial ground that was once used by the Micmacs, a Native American tribe. Following Jud's instructions, Louis buries the cat and constructs a cairn.

The next afternoon, the cat returns home. However, while he used to be vibrant and lively, he now acts ornery and "a little dead," in Louis's words. Church hunts for mice and birds much more often, but rips them apart without eating them. The cat also smells dead. Louis is disturbed by Church's resurrection and begins to regret his decision.

Several months later, Gage, who had just learned to walk, is run over by a speeding truck. Overcome with despair, Louis considers bringing his son back to life with the power of the burial ground. Jud, guessing what Louis is planning, attempts to dissuade him by telling him the story of Timmy Baterman, a young man from Ludlow who was killed during World War II. His father, Bill, put Timmy's body in the burial ground, where he came back to life, and was seen by the terrified townsfolk soon thereafter. Jud and three of his friends went to the Baterman house to confront the pair, but Timmy confronted each of them with indiscretions they had committed, indiscretions he had no way of knowing, thus giving the impression that the resurrected Timmy was not Timmy, after all, but instead some sort of demon, who had possessed Timmy's buried body. Jud and his friends fled the house horrified, and Bill shot his son and burned his house to the ground, killing himself.

Jud concludes that Gage died because he showed Louis the burial ground. There are hints that the burial ground was sometimes used for victims of cannibalism and that the ground behind the pet cemetery has become the haunt of the Wendigo, a terrible creature of the forest, whose mere presence gives men a taste for flesh of their own kind.

Despite Jud's warning and his own reservations, Louis's grief and guilt spur him to carry out his plan. Louis has Rachel and Ellie visit her parents again, not telling them his intentions. Louis exhumes his son's body and hikes him to the burial site. Along the trail, the Wendigo nearly frightens him away, but Louis's determination, combined with the power of the burial site, keeps him moving.

Ellie has a nightmare featuring Victor Pascow on the flight to Chicago. Because of this, and an agreement between Rachel and her daughter as to Louis' behavior, Rachel attempts to fly back to Maine, but can only get a flight to Boston on such short notice. She reaches the decision to drive the rest of the distance to her home that night.

Louis buries Gage at the burial ground. Gage returns as a demonic shadow of his former self, able to talk like an adult. He breaks into Jud's house and taunts Jud about his wife's implied infidelity, then kills Jud with one of Louis's scalpels. When Rachel arrives at Jud's house, Gage kills her also (and, it is implied, partially eats her corpse). It is suggested that this event pushes Louis's mind into its final stage of insanity. Louis kills Church and Gage without hesitation with a fatal dose of morphine, and then grieves for his son by sitting in the corner of the hallway.

Louis, now completely insane and having prematurely aged, burns down Jud Crandall's house, then carries Rachel's body to the burial ground, saying that he "waited too long" with Gage but is confident that Rachel will come back the same as before. After being interrogated by investigators about the fire, Louis waits until nightfall for Rachel to return. Playing solitaire, he hears his resurrected wife walk into the house, and the novel ends with Rachel speaking "Darling", her possession, and Louis's fate, unknown.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

Pet Sematary was made into a film in the autumn of 1988 (released April 1989) and directed by Mary Lambert, starring Dale Midkiff as Louis, Fred Gwynne as Jud, Denise Crosby as Rachel and Miko Hughes as Gage. A man, Andrew Hubatsek, was chosen for Zelda's role because the filmmakers could not find a woman bony enough to portray the terminally ill girl.[2] The Ramones recorded the title song for the film which can be found on their album Brain Drain. Although the song is heard only during the closing credits, their song "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" is played when Gage is killed.

Pet Sematary was filmed in King's home state of Maine, utilizing locations such as Mount Hope Cemetery (Bangor) and Ellsworth. King also makes a cameo appearance as a minister who officiates at the funeral of Missy Dandridge. This scene was shot at Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Fangoria magazine had exclusive coverage of Pet Sematary, and its reporter, Rod Labbe, visited the set twice. His articles ran in Fangoria and its companion magazine, Gorezone. Labbe has written a twenty-year "monster memories" of Pet Sematary, for publication in 2009.

There was also a sequel, Pet Sematary II, which met with less financial and critical success.[citation needed]

In March of 2010, it was announced that a remake was in the works, with Matthew Greenberg (writer of another King adaptation, 1408 currently working on the screenplay.[1]

Editions

References

External links


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