Is this book really that scary?

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Rrty

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2007
1,286
3,981
#1
I remember reading Pet Sematary. Might even have been the first King novel I read, although I can't swear to that (I started with the stories in Night Shift, I'm pretty sure, but who knows).

The book has a reputation as being very disturbing. I honestly do not recall finding the book that disturbing, or scary. Intriguing; entertaining -- yes.

When one is younger, one doesn't necessarily understand why something is so disturbing. So, I thought about the book recently after reading Bev Vincent's excellent essay on the story over at Richard Chizmar's Revisited site. Once again, I learned that King found the book almost too frightening to publish.

In all seriousness, did he really believe that do you think, or is this something that is becoming more of a myth as opposed to fact?

If the book was truly that disturbing to him, one would almost imagine he would not publish it. But not only did he do that, but I believe -- without checking, hope I will not end up being wrong on this -- he revisited this dark well again by writing the screenplay for the movie. He also had a cameo in the project.

Obviously I can't say for sure, but I'm a bit suspicious. Losing a child is not easy, but this basically was a book of fantasy. If he wrote about the loss of a child in a very serious, non-supernatural story, then that would be scarier and more disturbing, I think. Pet Sematary, however, is simply a fun book with a cool concept. I think he's written stuff that is way more disturbing.

Great book. And I am merely curious if anyone else ever found the whole it-even-frightened-Stephen-King thing more similar to marketing than to veritas.
 

Doc Creed

Well-Known Member
Nov 18, 2015
14,836
65,858
United States
#3
I think it definitely lives up to the hype. To me, scares are not exclusive to the domain of horror novels. I've been "disturbed" (as you say) by many Cormac McCarthy novels, and many other books where the beloved character is in peril. Pet Sematary amps up toward the middle but the tone was dark from the very start and throughout I felt a strong sense of dread. Each time Louis goes to the Micmac burial ground my stomach was in knots. My favorite King novel.
 
Feb 19, 2016
156
589
#6
Pet Sematary is definitely King's, what I call, crossing the line novel. There are many authors who have done this, Lolita comes to mind as well as Brave New World, 1984 and so many others. There are also crossing the line films; Midnight Cowboy, Tarantino's breakout film Reservoir Dogs, Kubricks's A Clockwork Orange etc. I cannot think of one television show that has crossed the line...hmm? Perhaps Season One of True Detective...oops!...almost forgot All in the Family....sure there are more although all of this is a matter of opinion.
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
81,027
307,967
56
Cambridge, Ohio
#8
...."scary" in the traditional sense?...to me, not a'tall.....the bleakness of it is what has dug it's claws into me over the years....there is no hope in this novel whatsoever, it's spirit is rotten and black...and Rrty?, King was living in a similar locale(Orrington) to the story when he came up with the concept.....Naomi and Owen were small, the cemetery was there, Owen ran toward the busy road etc....I've always accepted it as a cathartic work for King-wringing out the emotion of nearly losing his child......
 

doowopgirl

very avid fan
Aug 7, 2009
6,601
22,616
60
dublin ireland
#9
I think it definitely lives up to the hype. To me, scares are not exclusive to the domain of horror novels. I've been "disturbed" (as you say) by many Cormac McCarthy novels, and many other books where the beloved character is in peril. Pet Sematary amps up toward the middle but the tone was dark from the very start and throughout I felt a strong sense of dread. Each time Louis goes to the Micmac burial ground my stomach was in knots. My favorite King novel.
I know what you mean. I found Joe Hills Horns disturbing and hard to watch and read. Every time the horns grew my stomach was in knots.
 

Mocos

Active Member
Mar 6, 2016
39
167
43
Tacoma, WA
#11
I remember reading Pet Sematary. Might even have been the first King novel I read, although I can't swear to that (I started with the stories in Night Shift, I'm pretty sure, but who knows).

The book has a reputation as being very disturbing. I honestly do not recall finding the book that disturbing, or scary. Intriguing; entertaining -- yes.

When one is younger, one doesn't necessarily understand why something is so disturbing. So, I thought about the book recently after reading Bev Vincent's excellent essay on the story over at Richard Chizmar's Revisited site. Once again, I learned that King found the book almost too frightening to publish.

In all seriousness, did he really believe that do you think, or is this something that is becoming more of a myth as opposed to fact?

If the book was truly that disturbing to him, one would almost imagine he would not publish it. But not only did he do that, but I believe -- without checking, hope I will not end up being wrong on this -- he revisited this dark well again by writing the screenplay for the movie. He also had a cameo in the project.

Obviously I can't say for sure, but I'm a bit suspicious. Losing a child is not easy, but this basically was a book of fantasy. If he wrote about the loss of a child in a very serious, non-supernatural story, then that would be scarier and more disturbing, I think. Pet Sematary, however, is simply a fun book with a cool concept. I think he's written stuff that is way more disturbing.

Great book. And I am merely curious if anyone else ever found the whole it-even-frightened-Stephen-King thing more similar to marketing than to veritas.
The description of Gage's death is disturbing. I was a teenager when I read this book (and that was long, long ago), but I clearly remember the shock I felt. No kidding it crossed the line! Now I know that killing the kid or baby characters in books is all very standard fare, but back then I thought, "No. That's not ok, is it? Does anyone know this guy is killing kids in his books?!" I remember how time stopped all around me when I read that page. But, no. That's not at all what makes this book scary. Nor is it what comes back from the Micmac burial ground. It has more to do with that utter despair and hopelessness that GNTLGNT talked about. There was no let-up. On every page, right from the beginning, I knew yet another terrible thing was coming. This book is what comes to my mind whenever I see or hear the word "foreshadowing".
 

César Hernández-Meraz

Wants to be Nick, ends up as Larry
May 19, 2015
571
4,143
38
Aguascalientes, Mexico
#13
Losing a child is not easy, but this basically was a book of fantasy. If he wrote about the loss of a child in a very serious, non-supernatural story, then that would be scarier and more disturbing, I think. Pet Sematary, however, is simply a fun book with a cool concept.
Way I see it, and with the real-sounding characters SK writes, the people inside the story are not aware they are in a book of fantasy. It is real for them. As they are written, they sound real to us. That can make the loss of Gage hard to read. Even if we know it is fantasy, it is still real enough.

Unless we never turn off that voice that keeps telling us that this is just fiction.
 

Roho T Rooster

Well-Known Member
Apr 12, 2016
91
434
56
#14
Great book. And I am merely curious if anyone else ever found the whole it-even-frightened-Stephen-King thing more similar to marketing than to veritas.

I was looking around for some place to put the fact that, of all the King books I have read, I found Pet Sematary to be the most frightening...especially the ending. I guess this is about as "on topic" as I can find, without starting a new thread.

I do believe he may very well have found this the most disturbing book he wrote. Possibly for similar reasons that I find it his most disturbing. I have issues with death and loss. I have a hard time "letting go". That is the heart of this story. How far would I go to hold onto a dead loved one? A spouse, in my case; and a child in King's. Would I want to bring my loved one back, regardless the consequences? I do a big enough number to my head with what I am able to hold onto (I am a terrible pack rat, and am overly sentimental, at times). Seriously, if I could bury my loved ones in a specific plot of land, and they would come back, how long would it take before I did it?

And the ending? For me, it was spot on.

So, yeah...I bet it IS the story he finds most disturbing.
 
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