Revival by Stephen King

revivial

I feel as if I am about to betray one of my favourite authors in this post.

Here goes. I didn’t love Revival by Stephen King.

The main character in Revival is Jamie, who was a child at the beginning of the story. Jamie is one of a large, mostly happy family living in a small community. He and his family are members of a church ministered to by the Reverend Charles Jacobs.

The minister is a charismatic man whose passion is electricity. When his wife and son were killed in a tragic accident, Reverend Jacobs lost his faith and in his misery, preached what became known as the ‘Terrible Sermon’, using horrific examples of unlucky coincidences to ask why God allowed the deaths of innocent people. Listening to the Terrible Sermon, Jamie lost his faith too.

As always, Stephen King created a fast connection between me and his characters. I felt as if I knew Jamie, Charles Jacobs and the other key characters, their passions and their strengths and weaknesses. I don’t know how he does it, but I like it.

Not surprisingly, Charles Jacobs left town after the Terrible Sermon. The next chapters were a happy contrast to the previous part of the story, filled with Jamie’s nostalgic memories of growing up, his teenage sweetheart and his joy at discovering music.

Years pass and Jamie becomes a heroin-addicted, rhythm guitarist. When he goes to a carnival to buy drugs, he sees Charles Jacobs working a crowd, using electronic tricks to sell magical photos to ‘rubes.’

Charles’s electricity turned out to be more than the usual stuff you get when you flick a switch though, and the buyers of the photos were unwitting guinea pigs for Charles’ research into ‘secret electricity’. Charles uses his secret electricity for healing purposes as well as for tricks and using it, he cures Jamie of his heroin addiction. As the story continues Charles gains a large following as a healer and he rakes in cash, which he uses to further his research. The secret electricity idea is intriguing, but it wasn’t apparent to me until almost the big moment at the very end where Stephen King was going with this plot, which became terribly dark and bleak.

Over the years, Stephen King has stolen a lot of sleep from me. I’ve hashed over the wickedness of Apt Pupil for years. Nearly thirty years after reading It, I’m still frightened when I use the toilet at night in case that bloody clown who lives in the drains gets me. Pennywise. I can’t even say the name without feeling uneasy. Thinking about The Sun Dog sends shivers down my back and as for Misery, there were quite a few pages which I could only read by peeking through my fingers at the pages.

The promise of Revival felt unfulfilled though. The story built up and up and up, but the big moment, when it finally arrived, wasn’t big enough to satisfy me. I wanted more gory details, more horror, more scary imaginings to keep me awake at night, but I didn’t get it. Unfortunately, (?) tonight I will sleep just fine.

Revival had the potential to scare me every time I flicked on a light switch for the next twenty years, but Stephen King didn’t take his opportunity with this story.

 

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Author, Book Review, King - Stephen

3 responses to “Revival by Stephen King

  1. My reaction to this one was even stronger than yours – I thought it was incredibly dull and unoriginal. I listened to the audiobook and had a great night’s sleep every night! In fact, I might use it if I ever have a bout of insomnia… 😉

    I only started reading Stephen King recently and maybe his recent stuff isn’t as good as his early stuff, but I honestly can’t see what it is about his writing that makes him so popular. I swore I’d never read another after Revival, but maybe when I get over it I’ll try one of the ones you mention…

    • I started reading Stephen King as a teenager and since then have read everything he wrote as it came out. I think I was exactly the right age when I started reading his books to go along with every storyline and to have been scared silly, often for years after. If I had read Revival as an adult, without feeling I had a history with Stephen King, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to read more of his work either, but he feels like family to me. Maybe you could try Apt Pupil, an older Stephen King short story which I remember as particularly chilling.

      • I usually only read horror in the winter so I’ve added Apt Pupil to my horror wishlist – thanks for the recommendation. Maybe by November I’ll have forgiven him for Revival… 😉