Revival: A Novel

Revival: A Novel - Stephen King Charles Jacobs and his lovely wife move to town to take over the duties of ministering to the local population. The first time Jamie Morton meets Rev. Jacobs is while he playing soldier in the dirt outside his family home. For some reason Charles takes a liking to Jamie and chooses to share a secret with him. Although Charles is a man of God he is also a man of science, and his obsession has to do with the electrical impulses that not only surround us but also exist inside us. Electrical impulses that have the ability to heal and, of course, the ability to harm as well.

A tragic accident precipitates Rev. Jacobs’ very quick departure from town. Years later, as Jamie is fighting a losing battle against his personal demons of drugs and alcohol, Rev. Jacobs once again enters Jamie’s life. This time, as two adults, a secret bond forms between the two when Rev. Jacobs saves Jamie from his addictions. But is this a bond between the two of them, or has Jamie just signed a pact with the devil? Through the ensuing years Jamie learns more and more about the Reverend and five decades after Rev. Jacobs’ shadow first fell across Jamie as he played in the dirt he learns the truth about his obligation to the Reverend.

Revival received a lot of negative press from groups believing Mr. King was speaking out against organized religion. I didn’t get any of that while reading this book. Yes, the book contains several “good old time religion” themes because we visit everything from a children’s bible study group and a magic picture carnival show through to a tent revival and some bible-thumping/hand-on-forehead healing on big screen late night television and yes, much of it is presented in a not too flattering light. It could well be a commentary of Evangelical religions by the author or is it the nature of Mr. King’s antagonist Rev. Jacobs? If the book is picked apart on the criteria of individual themes it could just as easily be a commentary on the evils of drug and alcohol abuse (both issues, by the author’s own admission, of which Mr. King has first hand knowledge). Or, as I chose to believe, these themes are simply a vehicle for the story. If you can put prejudices and bad press aside, a pretty scary story too. Revival explores the dark side of family, success, obsession and how far one will go to fulfill a promise.

On the whole I enjoyed this book, and as always will remain a “constant reader” of Mr. King, but as I have said so, so often in the past and will no doubt repeat again in the future the ending let me down. I don’t know why this is? I picture Mr. King sitting at his typewriter (and yes, in my imagination it is always a typewriter) clacking away furiously at the keys, then at the crucial point of deciding how the story will conclude, he throws up his hands in frustration and mutters … “I got nothing” … and proceeds with an almost cartoon like ending. There were enough “OMG”, “Ewwww”, and “wow, I didn’t see that coming” moments in the book that I can (almost) let it go, but for this one I’ll have to go with 3 stars.