Jade's Reviews > Dodenwake

Dodenwake by Stephen King
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Aug 27, 12

bookshelves: the-macabre
Read on August 26, 2012 — I own a copy, read count: 1

With 1983’s Pet Sematary, Stephen King shows his readers once more that he’s a very solid horror writer. For me, King’s strengths lie in his ability to set up his characters and/or families in a sympathetic and believable manner, making them relatable. Of course, they’re not nearly all as well-developed as I would’ve liked to see them, but at least I’m rooting for them to win out against the horror that King’s going to put them up against.

And in this case, it’s death that King’s characters are fighting against. The Creed family (consisting of father Louis, mother Rachel, daughter Ellie, and son Gage) moves to another town in Maine (!) because Louis Creed got a new job at university as a doctor. The town is nice enough, and Louis soon makes friends with an old couple living opposite the road of him, and his children settle in nicely. Behind the Creed’s house is a small path that goes up the hill, ending at a tiny cemetery that the children of the town have created for their pets (and endearingly misspelt as ‘sematary’). This provokes a lot of discussion in the family about death, because daughter Ellie is heavily affected by the place after visiting it, mainly because she now realizes that her cat Church could die. And Rachel, Louis’ wife, has some unresolved matters of her own concerning the death of her sister, of which Louis knows very little.

The pet cemetery remains a somewhat mysterious place; behind it, on a nearby hill, lie ancient Native American burial grounds, which once belonged to the Micmac tribe (though rumour has it that the ground there is simply ancient, and belongs to no one). Strange things happen when creatures are buried there, as Louis discovers when he buries Ellie’s dead cat Church there…

The best thing about this particular book by King is the way he deals with death. It’s about sorrow, it’s about grief, and it’s about how to deal with the death of your loved ones. Rachel still has to cope with the circumstances surrounding her sister’s death, and the entire family gets a huge blow when (view spoiler). If you had a way out of death, would you take it? Would you take it, knowing what the results could be? Can dealing with death turn you insane? If not, will another road lead you spiralling into madness?

These are all issues that Louis Creed has to face during this book, and besides the obvious horror that King works in, the issues themselves are chilling at best. Losing a loved one is absolutely devastating, and the fact that this is used as a premise for his book is quite a strong point.

That said, there are also a few downsides – the characters remain a little flat despite the strong emotions they’re dealing with, and especially Rachel is terribly underdeveloped and downplayed. I got horrendously annoyed by the fact that everybody constantly seems to want to calm her down with diazepam because they think she can’t deal with everything, whereas it’s Louis who holds the biggest danger in the book, and also has strong emotional reactions to what occurs.

Anyhow, a definite recommendation for horror readers, especially those who are also fans of King’s work. A slow build-up, lots of climatic gore, and chilling horror, is what Pet Sematary offers to its readers.
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