My favourite ever book...
A guest post by Phil Ingham (@ingo74)
My favourite book would have to be Pet Sematary by Stephen King.
It is the book which most affected me at an emotional level and continues to do so, perhaps more so now than when I first read it as a teenager.
I am a huge fan of early King and would credit him as being the main reason I read so avidly today.
King is the master of the supernatural and while Pet Sematary is a story rooted firmly within the supernatural, the real horrors within it are very much human and remained with me long after closing the book.
The book follows the Creed family; Louis, his wife Rachel, daughter Ellie, son Gage and cat Church.
Life is good; Louis has just secured his dream job as a surgeon, they have moved into a beautiful house in rural Maine (of course – it is Stephen King, after all!) and have wonderful neighbours in the elderly couple Jud and Norma Crandall.
Louis takes to ending the odd night sharing a beer with Jud Crandall and, during their conversations, Jud tells him about a Pet Cemetery that had been created by local children years ago. The highway built close to the Creed’s new house makes sure that the cemetery still gets new residents. A road which, in Jud’s words, “uses up a lot of animals” because of the huge trucks that frequently thunder along it.
The cemetery initially appears in the book to be an innocent place in which children can lay their deceased pets to rest and learn a little about life and death. Increasingly though, it takes on sinister significance for Louis; mentioned in the last words of a dying patient, appearing in all-too-realistic dreams from which Louis awakes muddied and confused and then there is that undeniable urge to discover what lay beyond the wall of fallen wood which separates the Pet Cemetery from…what?
It soon becomes clear that there is something more to the Pet Cemetery once the surface is scratched and it is here where the true horrors begin to reveal themselves.
Not the horrors of reanimated corpses or gory deaths, although if you are looking for such things you will not be disappointed. Where the book really excels is in presenting us with true terrors; terrors that dance just on the periphery of our consciousness every day and, should we stop to stare at them, would surely crush us with fear.
The book slams you with the terror of unimaginable loss and how the waves of grief can untether the soundest of minds from its haven of sanity.
It lays bare the realisation that, however wonderful your life is now, it is always just one tragedy away from falling apart.
These are things that if allowed to creep into your thoughts when kissing your child goodnight or waving your partner off to work, can chill you far more than any physical monster could.
A genuinely chilling read.