What’s it all about?:
In a small New England town, in the early 60s, 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 – including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister – feel the same about Reverend Jacobs. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.
Then tragedy strikes the Jacobs family; the preacher curses God, mocking all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.
Jamie has demons of his own. In his mid-thirties, he is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings. Because for every cure there is a price…
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 Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe.
What did I think?:
It’s time for another one of those gushing reviews about one of my all-time favourite authors, Stephen King (apologies in advance!). I always get terribly excited when a new King novel is due out and after a short hop over to the crime genre with Mr Mercedes, he is back doing what he does best i.e. settle and unnerve his Constant Readers. However, do not go into this book expecting horror, blood, guts and other mayhem, Revival is somewhat of a slow-burner that builds the narrative of a man’s life over fifty decades. It creeps up on you slowly, getting you all comfortable and familiar with the setting and the characters… then BAM! it hits you with the suggestion of things I think even those with the most vivid of imaginations would struggle to picture.
We meet our main character, Jamie Morton when he is very young, playing with toy soldiers outside in the sunshine. Little does he know that the shadow that falls over his game belongs to a man who is going to be probably one of the most influential people in his life. The man is Charles Jacobs, the new Reverend whom along with his beautiful wife, charm their way into the community and the Morton family’s lives. Jamie especially builds a strong bond with Jacobs, spending a lot of time with him and enjoying the Reverend’s teachings and experiments with electricity (his second greatest love after God). Jacobs also proves himself to be quite indispensable to the family after providing him with a gift they cannot thank him enough for, a cure for Jamie’s brothers muteness. As a result, Jamie is devastated when a family tragedy leads to the Reverend leaving town, assuming he will never see him again. He couldn’t be more wrong.
We then follow Jamie’s life over a fifty year period where he becomes devoted both to music which he ekes a small living from and then unfortunately to heroin. Jacobs and Jamie’s paths are set to cross a number of times during their lives which turns out to be mutually agreeable to both of them in the beginning. Jacobs is now earning his crust by travelling round with a circus/fair using his favourite medium, electricity to perform small “miracles,” for bewildered and excited crowds. At this time, Jamie is at rock bottom with his drug addiction and then, like the feat performed years earlier with Jamie’s brother, Jacobs manages to cure him of his heroin dependency. Unfortunately, that means Jamie is pretty much indebted to Jacobs for life. The reader gets the sense that this was perhaps this was Jacobs plan all along because he has big things planned for his next experiment. And by big, I mean huge, actually of insane proportions. An experiment that makes you question death in all its disguises, something that might have you gibbering senselessly and hoping scientists find the secret of immortality, fast!
Well, what can I say? My God, Stephen King you’ve done it again. It’s King at his absolute genius best, building a strong and solid foundation for a narrative with a main character that you really find yourself rooting for, despite a few personal demons. There’s nothing particularly “scary” about this story, it’s not another It or Pet Sematary, so don’t go into it with those sorts of expectations. The message is a lot cleverer and way more subtle, told in a way that is guaranteed to send shivers down some spines I believe. I am aware that the author has received some lukewarm reviews for his last few novels but I really believe that Revival is King back to his glorious best and I loved every minute of it.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):