Author: Stephen King
Narrator: David Morse
Audiobook Length: 13 hours, 23 minutes
Origins: Mine. All mine.
Release Date: 11 November 2014
“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.”
Thoughts on the Novel: When one sees a novel penned by Stephen King, one expects to be scared. Whether it is creepy clowns calling from sewers, moving topiary trees, deadly and obsessive vampire townspeople, or zombie cats, there is the expectation from readers that there will be a point in time in the novel where they will have to put the book aside until the sun is shining and the birds are singing. Usually, this point occurs early in one of his novels, establishing the tone of fear as soon as possible so that a reader continues the story in a state of dread. Also, this point is obvious in nature, as in the examples previously mentioned. In Revival however, Mr. King plays with this idea of horror, not going for the big scare early on but slowly building up to it. In this more recent novel of his, the anticipation is the truly horrifying part. While some readers may find this to be a bad thing, other readers will appreciate the chance Mr. King took with Revival. It is far removed from his other novels, to the point where many readers remain disappointed by it. However, for those willing to give it a chance, what they find may delight them.
There is no one who can build suspense or create such complex and realistic characters quite like Mr. King, and Revival is no different. In Jamie and Charles, Mr. King has characters flawed but real in their adventures and issues. Jamie is particularly fragile in his loves, losses, and life battles. As for Charles Jacobs, he is one of Mr. King’s creepier villains, especially because there is nothing remotely supernatural about him. He has no special powers, nor is he a supernatural creature. There is no magic about his actions. It is this realism that makes him all the more frightening because it shows just how dangerous obsession is.
In addition to playing around with the horror elements of the story, in Revival, Mr. King also plays around with the storyline. Unlike previous stories in which readers do not know the fate of the hero until the very end, readers know Jamie’s fate early on in the story. They know that the events Jamie shares occurred in the past. While this could in many ways diminish the suspense of the story, the cryptic references Jamie makes to the culminating events serve to enhance the tension. For, as readers get to understand Jamie and his temperament, they realize that he is not one prone to hyperbole, so if he wishes that something had never happened, there is a reason for it. In many ways, Jamie’s stalwartness is what makes what happens to him that much more terrifying.
Readers looking for the big horror scene will not find it until that last few chapters of the novel. However, Revival is not about the actual horror but about the clues leading up to it. It is about the idea that one’s obsession can have such horrifying consequences. It is the idea the curiosity can be a wonderful thing but can also bring about their demise. It is the fluidity of such things as sanity and how tenuous our hold is on it, and the tragic consequences that occur when one loses that hold. While not a typical novel for Mr. King, Revival has all of the hallmarks of his novels which make his stories such amazing reads. The playing he does with time lines and suspense make it unique within his canon but in no way makes it a bad novel. If anything, it shows his ability to grow within the craft in which he has more than shown his prowess.
Thoughts on the Audiobook: As with almost all of Mr. King’s novels, David Morse does an excellent job narrating this subtle and intricate novel. Given that the story is told in the present as it happened in the past, his voice is not only age-appropriate but captures the perfect level of world-weariness that befits Jamie’s character. He has the voice of someone who has experienced the full gamut of human emotion and experience, but he also manages to display Jamie’s tenuous hold on reality as well. It is yet another excellent performance of Mr. King’s work.