One night in 2010, I was visiting my then long-distance fiancé in Alexandria, VA and could not sleep due to serious allergies and jetlag. So, as to not disturb her with my constant sneezing, I spent most of the long late night out in her living room and reading Stephen King's Pet Sematary, in the light of one dim table lamp. After reading the chapter where Louis first ventures onto the Native American burial ground on an eerie moonlit night, I closed the book and realized that I could confidently say that this was the scariest novel I had ever read."Sometimes dead is better."
Although some of it might have been the fact that I was reading it in such a prime environment, that vividly written sequence is one of the only times I truly got chills when reading.
Louis Creed has recently moved his family to a small town and everything seems great despite the fact that the local highway has so many instances of killing pets, there is an animal cemetery near their home for all the roadkill victims. It is also rumored that deeper in the woods past the cemetery is an ancient burial ground that has much creepier purposes.
Aside from being well-plotted, creepy and evocative, the novel is scary because it taps into basic and primal fears that many families have. The novel is also melancholy and tragic. It goes to such depths of fear and sadness that King himself thinks it's his scariest novel and thought that he might have gone too far after writing it. And the final line of the novel (simple and inevitable but at the same time absolutely terrifying and depressing) sums up what makes this book so effective. It's a standout book out of many great ones from one of our best writers.