Revival by Stephen King

Synopsis: A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs — including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties — addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate — Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe

Review: Stephen King’s book “Revival” is a horror novel that tells the life of Jamie Morton from his childhood in the 1960s up to his old age.

At the age of 6, he met Charles Jacobs, a Methodist pastor who had recently arrived in the small town of Harlow, with a rather atypical fascination by electricity and its power. Thanks to his studies on the potential of electricity, Jacobs succeeds in curing Connie, Jamie’s brother, of a tearing of the vocal cords. This is the beginning of a strong link between the two characters.

However, a personal drama (the death of his wife and son) will lead the pastor to lose faith and he will devote himself entirely to the study of secret electricity, initially to heal people but gradually this quest will lead the two characters at the gates of death to understand what happens after death. The dream of controlling life and death through a secret source of energy described in forbidden books ….

Stephen King still perfectly describes the scenes and it feels like we see the action going on with all the details. The only downside for me is that the story finally takes a long time to set up and the surnatural “horror” part only appears in the last 50 pages (on around 540). It is kind of a shame. The suspense also appears only in these last pages, even if one always wonders what Jacobs seeks and finds. It’s a quest for the grail to understand what happens after death and potentially also know how to resuscitate his family (his wife and son).

The other interest of the book is the evolution of the main character through the ages (which is quite nice) from the 60s to the present day, as well as the link between Jamie and Jacobs. Jamie is thankful to Jacobs for curing various people he is attached to, but he is aware that Jacobs is going too far in his quest to the detriment of the people he uses as guinea pigs.

A good book in the end (it’s the King anyway!!), although this is not the best I have read. With winks of which the most obvious is that of Mary Fay Shelley in direct connection with Frankenstein and the awakening of the dead by lightning …




25 thoughts on “Revival by Stephen King

  1. As you were describing it in your review, I was thinking Frankenstein and there, in the end, you mentioned it. 🙂 That would make this one creepy, but too bad it took so long getting there for you. Loved your review!

  2. Awesome review! 😀
    Stephen King was my favorite horror/thriller books. I remember very clearly how obsessed I was with his books back in the day where I was a horror junkie. Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one as much, though.

  3. Like so many of King’s recent books, I found this one somewhat uneven. The first act was fantastic, the second act dragged the story to a halt, and the third act was interesting . . . but I wanted more of the supernatural – more on the forbidden grimoire, the murder-suicides, and what lies on the other side of the door.

    • It is right even if surnatural is only slightly described in the first part. The horror is missing for me and appears only in the last part.

  4. I’m a big fan of King but I haven’t been keeping up with his more recent work. I wanted to read this when it came out, but it was getting some mixed reviews so I decided to wait. Glad you enjoyed it, even if it doesn’t rank among your faves.

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