Thursday, 22 June 2017

Revival by Stephen King

Book Review

Revival by Stephen King - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

"This is how we bring about our damnation, you know - by ignoring the voice that begs us to stop. To stop while there's still time."

Revival is written by Stephen King and published by Hodder & Stoughton.

I think my Stephen King books are moving around by themselves. I thought I dropped my copy of The Gunslinger own the back of a chest of drawers, in fact I'm sure it fell down there, but a few weeks later it was sitting on my bookshelves again as though it had never moved.

I also don't actually remember getting this copy of Revival by Stehen King. I was just looking at my Stephen King books one day and realised that this new hardback was sitting among them as though it had always been there. I must have got it in a birthday or Christmas haul and forgotten about it. At least that's what I tell myself, but I think it may have just appeared.

However it got on my shelves I'm glad I read Revival, it felt like a return to classic King but also something a little newer and fresh. It stands uniquely n his back catalogue as an odd mix of not quite horror, not quite science fiction and not quite thriller, yet all of these things. I'm not explaining it very well, it's an unusual book, with the story spread over a long period of time and with one of the most terrifying endings I've ever read.

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.

King manages to create a book which is incredibly scary, but with a distinct lack of haunted mansions, crazed pets or possessed cars, which his most famous spooky reads rely on.

Revival is a novel about big subjects, such as death, religion and grief. But King also manages to explore the minutest detail of the relationship between Jamie and Jacobs. This is something I love about Stephen King's work, he can merge horror and normality so well.

"'Everyone needs a hobby,' he said. 'And everyone needs a miracle or two, just to prove life is more than just one long trudge from to cradle to the grave.'"

Revival both emulates some of the early King creepiness which made his eighties novels so good, and feels like the more dense and thoughtful books that he writes now. King is well known for coming of age novels and Revival begins that way, with the young Jamie, but it continues on and takes in Jamie's whole life; it's more about aging this time and how people and relationships develop over time. This is reflected in the relationship between Jamie and Jacobs; they keep picking up and putting down their relationship over their lives and as they come together again you see how they have changed, matured and a lot of the time, disintegrated.

But don't worry, it's not all introspection and deep discussions on death, there are some excellent King-style thrills in there, with terrifying experiments, unexplained science fiction and the truly creepy yet somehow human figure in Jacobs, who's an excellent foil to the engaging yet flawed Jamie.

Revival is a sort of modern, mad scientist story, it reminds me a little of Frankenstein, but with more heroin and lightning thrown in.

And yes, the ending of Revival is terrifying, I won't give anything away but it's not so much spooky but more a terrifying glimpse into our own mortality. It will keep you awake.

Revival by Stephen King - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

My Rating: 4/5

I'm going to try and herd my King books into one place.

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