Here is a question: Who brings more baggage into a story, the author or the reader? It might seem like an obvious question, for how can a writer produce a story without tapping into some part of their psyche to write in the first place. Sure, not all writers include aspects of their own personal experience as they write, but undoubtedly some of their own beliefs will find their way into the story. Where the author has the upper hand in this matter, however, is in the blessing and the curse of editing. The reader cam bring their own beliefs into a story and therefore be affected in ways that the author may or may not have intended.
How does this rambling relate to Pet Seminary? I had come across something beforehand (perhaps in Danse Macabre or the Introduction or Afterword of Different Seasons) where King discussed how the idea for this story came about: one of his kids was almost hit by a car. Knowing this before hand, and having read the book before, I will admit that I had a hard time getting through the last half of the book. I don’t have children myself, but the very thought of losing one that is so dearly loved is horrible to contemplate even as an outsider. This novel comes for a much darker place than a novel like Christine (which I finished reading immediately before. This is the power of writing though, to make a reader feel something, anything, even if it is not happy (as losing a child could hardly ever be – even after a long illness).
People reading this right now might be scoffing at me for saying what I am. This is a horror story which by its very nature is not meant to be happy. You would not be wrong for saying it. Some stories, however, are too close to real life horror for comfort. A possessed car, a haunted hotel, vampires in a small town (shout out to the tie in at the end of Pet Sematary by the way), are things so divorced from our own reality that while we are suspending our disbelief we are having a good time doing it. Pet Sematary might have Wendigos and resurrection, but they are placed amidst real-life terror.
I cannot say that I disliked the book. Jud Crandall is probably one of my favourites characters thus far, but I can’t imagine that a reread will occur anytime in the near future.