Revival – Book Review

Revival – by Stephen King

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Stephen King brings a thought provoking novel and modern day Frankenstein story with Revival.

Jaime Morton is 6 years old and playing with his toy soldiers in his driveway when the shadow of a man falls over him. The shadow belongs to Charles Jacobs, the young and affable minister, recently moved to town. Jacobs, his wife and child are welcomed by the community and a close connection is established between himself and Jaime, helped in part by Jacobs’ mysterious experiments with electricity. However, while a tragic event and a terrible sermon causes Jacobs to leave; the bond between he and Jaime remains. Years later, Jamie, a musician and  drug addict is reunited with Jacobs, whereupon Jaime discovers that Jacobs’ once harmless experiments in electricity have changed, as has Jacobs himself.

Revival is a book driven by themes. Death, religion, passion and how we deal with emotional trauma serve as the engine for a story that ultimately reveals itself as being a very dark horror.

Told from the perspective of Jaime, Revival traces his life from childhood into his 60’s, and the recurring altercations he has with Reverend Jacobs along the way. Undoubtedly for me, the most enjoyable part of this novel was following Jamie grow up in 1960’s, baby-boomer, rock and roll-era America. In fact I could easily read a novel of just Stephen King documenting the lives of small-town occupants. King excels in enticing the reader to follow Jamie as he meets his first love, picks up his first guitar, loses his virginity and grows into an adult. However, it does lead the reader into a false sense of security for the horror that waits in store.

Accordingly, Revival starts strongly, but I found myself losing interest in the second half. Charles Jacobs’ is undoubtedly an intriguing character, however King does not give much away as to the intent or effect of his electrical experiments, preferring the save the supernatural horror until the very end. Because of this, during his reunions with Jaime, I found myself eager to get back to reading about Jaime’s life as a musician, or wishing the plot could move forward to its conclusion.

When the horror is eventually revealed, rather than being pushed through the door headfirst as King usually does, we are instead given just a glimpse through the key-hole. But don’t despair, there is no cheating of the audience here, the eventual horror is so dark, and so disconcerting, that just a glimpse through the key-hole is enough.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Revival can be purchased here.

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