Kirkus Reviews QR Code
CUJO by Stephen King Kirkus Star

CUJO

By Stephen King

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
ISBN: 0451161351
Publisher: Viking

King goes non-supernatural this time--and the result, despite the usual padding, is a tighter, more effective horror novel. We are once more up in Castle Rock, Maine, ayuh, where the natives are striving to survive some earlier King visitations of the unspeakable. Recent arrival Vic Trenton, who has brought a big ad account with him from New York, is having a hard time hanging onto both the Sharp cereals campaign and his wife Donna, who has just severed an affair with a filthy-poet/furniture-stripper. Meanwhile: Joe Camber, an alcoholic auto mechanic, is angry at wife Charity for wanting to take their son Brett on a visit to her folks (he's afraid Brett will get a taste of sane family life that will show up Joe's madness), but finally--figuring that he'll have a hot time while she's gone--Joe agrees. And all of this sets the scene for some big, extended horror sequences hi Joe's yard. You see, Brett's 200-pound St. Bernard ("Cujo") has chased a rabbit into a big hole also occupied by bats, and a rabid bat bites Cujo's nose. Soon the dog is acting queerly, slavering, and going mad with a headache that warps his thinking about men: Cujo is lost in a mist and can't be found the day Charity and Brett leave. The first to die is Joe's buddy Gary Pervier--who lives just down at the foot of the hill from Camber's yard and crosses Cujo hi his own yard. Later, when Joe finds Gary's body he himself has but two minutes or so to live. And next Donna's car breaks down, so she drives it into Camber's yard with her four-year-old Tad: they're attacked in their car and kept there for three days, even after an investigating cop is killed. Finally, then, there's the dog-versus-woman showdown as savaged Donna, now half-crazed, kills Cujo with a ballbat--but it's too late to save Tad, whose heart gives out. . . . The inevitable film is going to be hard on St. Bernards and may even seriously affect their good-guy image. But, the ASPCA notwithstanding, there's no denying that King's three-day vigil in the carnage has a solid hook that will hold his fans; and his Maine humors do offer witty relief. so once again. . . the moola will flow.