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.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2014: How does Stephen King do it? In book after book, writing long (Under the Dome, 11/22/63) or short (Joyland) he manages, nearly always, to tell a compelling story that is both entertaining and somehow profound, or at least thoughtful. His latest, Revival, is vintage King. It’s the perfect mix of baby boomer nostalgia (think Stand By Me) – this guy remembers the 60s with details you usually can only find in photographs – and good old American horror, the kind that was first elevated by such minor writers as, say, Poe and Hawthorne. The story here centers on a reverend who comes to a New England town, befriends and mentors a young boy, and then goes wild with grief when his family dies in an accident; he gives a blasphemous sermon and is, basically, run out of town. Cut to: a couple decades later, when the boy, now a junkie, meets up by chance with the disgraced clergyman, and they form another disturbing relationship. Reverend Jacobs, it turns out, was always more complicated than the stereotypical man of God – he is fascinated by electricity, by science – and pretty demonic, too. How he and Jamie find and fight each other over their lifetimes is as shocking and inevitable as the explosive and, yes, horrorish, climax of the book. Never mind that King’s prose can sometimes lapse into laughable cliché – “like water through a sieve”? Really? – there is absolutely no better storyteller than Stephen King, who keeps us up at night, with fear and fascination and admiration. –Sara Nelson