Well, according to King’s own official website, Revival is
a dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism and what might exist on the other side
Jamie Morton is a small boy in New England when he meets the Rev Charles Jacobs who, with his wife Patsy and little boy Morrie, becomes an influence for good in the town. Well, at least until the dreadful accident that robs him of his family and possibly his faith. After the day of the Terrible Sermon he is driven out of town and when he and Jamie meet again the former is using his deep interest on electricity to earn a living on the carny circuit and the latter is a musician and heroin addict. Jacobs uses his knowledge to cure Jamie and from that point on the two are intertwined, right to the very end when Jacobs’ obsession takes it’s final form.
Why did I want to read it?
I’ve been reading and enjoying King’s works for *gulp* nearly 40 years. I haven’t read everything he’s written (not yet at least) but I always look forward to anything he publishes and he has never really let me down (not even with The Tommyknockers or Dreamcatcher, both flawed but still interesting). And the hints before publication and in early reviews that there was a Lovecraftian element to this book was just an added bonus. Two of my earliest horror influences coming together sounded just the ticket.
What did I think of it?
This was exactly what I needed to read during a stressful week where I was working flat-out, running an almost constant headache and not sleeping terribly well. For a couple of days as soon as work was over I was able to lose myself in the life of Jamie Morton, a flawed but basically decent person who has gone through some tough times and his interest in the man whom he has admired since he was a small boy and who was instrumental in helping him both kick his addiction and find a career. But Jamie always knew things weren’t quite right (‘Something Happened’) and over time he realises that he will have to confront Jacobs. And of course that’s when the nature of the older man’s obsession becomes clear and things get very weird indeed.
I thought this was great. I really liked Jamie which is essential if you are going to enjoy this book as it is told entirely in the first person. And it really doesn’t read like a horror novel until the last section, though there is a growing sense of foreboding and not-rightness (which isn’t a word but the best way to describe it I think). The Lovecraftian elements are pretty subtle until the end, and of course there are Repercussions; one of the things I’ve always liked about King is that there are always consequences and sometimes (most times) the good guys don’t get away unscathed.
King himself mentions that The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen (which I haven’t read for years) was a major influence on Revival.
It’s not King’s scariest novel by any means but it’s a strong story with disturbing elements. I really liked it and definitely recommend it.