Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Stephen King’s Revival is an odd duck. The book spans over 50 years and is mostly a study of baby-boomer Americana, drugs, rock-n-roll, and religion with some lightning thrown in. It was billed as a return to horror with “the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has every written” (strange since King’s endings tend to be, well, less than ideal).
The book is vividly written but spends most of its time following the uneventful life of Jamie Morton. From the age of 6 when he first meets Reverend Charles Jacobs (the book’s true central character) through decades of petty jobs and bad decisions, there's chapter after chapter of dull meandering. It’s only in the interludes where Morton crosses paths with Jacobs that the book gets interesting – yet the compelling Jacobs and his bizarre shenanigans are constantly kept in the background.
The theme is established early in the book as Reverend Jacobs faces a terrible tragedy and his faith is severely tested. These events set in motion a collision course with God as Jacob’s obsession with electricity, faith healing, and seeking answers from beyond slowly increase the mystery. Yet only in the last few chapters does it truly veer into full-out horror. When it does so, it’s an abrupt tonal shift that goes off the rails delivering an unexpectedly outlandish and hellish ending. It is a very terrifying conclusion after all, but the dull slog to get to it, the bleak and morose tone, and the focus on the wrong character makes this a rather disappointing read for horror fans.