In Cujo, Stephen King turns an already disturbing tale – one of that mirroring the disturbing children’s tale of Old Yeller – and turns it into what the story was truly meant to be: a tale of unrelenting horror. Unlike Old Yeller, however, there’s very little in the way of a morality lesson at the end of the novel and literally no one leaves the story unscathed by the events within the tale.
Again, Stephen King transports his readers back to the fictional small town of Castle Rock, a locale that will be all too familiar to avid King fans, making appearances in novels such as Needful Things and The Dead Zone. The novel seems haphazardly put together and those who are familiar with King’s past will realize that the novel was put together during King’s stint with drug addiction which he fully admits in his memoir/writing volume, On Writing. While the novel is well written and cohesive, readers will still notice a tone of disparity that is out of character even for King.
Cujo follows a series of events that ties two families, one middle class; the other blue collar, together. The series of horrific events begins when Cujo, a Saint Bernard owned by Brett Camber, the son of Charity and Joe Camber, is infected with rabies by an infected bat. As Brett and Charity are away, they are spared. However, the many who come in contact with the maniacal dog are not.
First, Cujosuccessfully mauls and kills Joe’s neighbor, Gary Pervier. Joe, having planned to meet and pick up Gary later, arrives at Gary’s home to find Gary already slaughtered by the beast. Unfortunately, Joe is also claimed by Cujo before he can make a phone call to the authorities.
The novel takes a sad and sadistic turn when the middle class Donna Trenton and her four year old son make a trip to Joe’s for a car repair. Already on its last leg, the car fails outside of Joe’s home and leaves the two Trentons trapped within the car for a three day stint.
This is a grim novel and many may find this novel to be one of King’s most unforgiving tales. Not for the easily upset and certainly not for animal lovers, this novel delivers a wallop of suspenseful horror.
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