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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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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