PET SEMATARY

This novel began as a reworking of W.W. Jacobs' horror classic "The Monkey's Paw"—a short story about the dreadful outcome when a father wishes for his dead son's resurrection. And King's 400-page version reads, in fact, like a monstrously padded short story, moving so slowly that every plot-turn becomes lumberingly predictable. Still, readers with a taste for the morbid and ghoulish will find unlimited dark, mortality-obsessed atmosphere here—as Dr. Louis Creed arrives in Maine with wife Rachel and their two little kids Ellie and Gage, moving into a semi-rural house not far from the "Pet Sematary": a spot in the woods where local kids have been burying their pets for decades. Louis, 35, finds a great new friend/father-figure in elderly neighbor Jud Crandall; he begins work as director of the local university health-services. But Louis is oppressed by thoughts of death—especially after a dying student whispers something about the pet cemetery, then reappears in a dream (but is it a dream) to lead Louis into those woods during the middle of the night. What is the secret of the Pet Sematary? Well, eventually old Jud gives Louis a lecture/tour of the Pet Sematary's "annex"—an old Micmac burying ground where pets have been buried. . .and then reappeared alive! So, when little Ellie's beloved cat Church is run over (while Ellie's visiting grandfolks), Louis and Jud bury it in the annex—resulting in a faintly nasty resurrection: Church reappears, now with a foul smell and a creepy demeanor. But: what would happen if a human corpse were buried there? That's the question when Louis' little son Gage is promptly killed in an accident. Will grieving father Louis dig up his son's body from the normal graveyard and replant it in the Pet Sematary? What about the stories of a previous similar attempt—when dead Timmy Baterman was "transformed into some sort of all-knowing daemon?" Will Gage return to the living—but as "a thing of evil?" He will indeed, spouting obscenities and committing murder. . .before Louis must eliminate this child-demon he has unleashed. Filled out with overdone family melodrama (the feud between Louis and his father-in-law) and repetitious inner monologues: a broody horror tale that's strong on dark, depressing chills, weak on suspense or surprise—and not likely to please the fans of King's zestier, livelier terror-thons.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 1983

ISBN: 0743412281

Page Count: 420

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1983

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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