Stephen King: Revival: Review

*Mild Spoiler Warning*

     In recent years grand master of horror Stephen King has been bringing us tales of a much more ordinary terror, stories set in more mundane terms.  Joyland was about a small carnival killer book with some ghostly talk (there's a nice reference to it in Revival), Mr. Mercedes was a straight up detective murder mystery, and even Dr. Sleep was a toned down follow up to The Shining.  I would never go as far as to say he's slipping, but he's definitely becoming a little more subtle.  Now that I've said that, I must also say Duma Key is one of my top 3 favorites of his books, following The Dark Tower Book 4: Wizard and Glass and the tie of It and 11/22/63.

Something Happened

"That is not dead which can eternal lie, 
And with strange aeons even death may die."

     Revival is the story of Jamie Morton.  A man that knew the Reverend Charles D. Jacobs since he was a young boy, and has seen his transformation over time.  Jacobs began as a happy, married man and father.  A man of god with a strange fascination with electricity- an obsession really.  After tragedy strikes, Jacobs gives a blasphemous sermon- resulting in his banishment from the church and the loss of faith from some of the parish.  
     Jaime and Jacobs cross paths a few times over the course of 50 years and they become tied together as Jacobs' experiments lead ever closer to his ultimate goal- to see what's after life.  We get to see through Jaime's eyes as Jacobs go from small church preacher to full on healer using his "secret electricity" to almost Frankenstein-ian scientist pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

     What King has done in Revival isn't a fully fair game for the reader- usually things may be accurately speculated with seeded information or hints and in this book's case, I felt it was not truly conveyed (outside of the Lovecraft quote he prefaces the novel with).  For the culmination of the book King doesn't give us a peek beyond the veil by pulling back the curtain, he rips it right off the wall- tearing away our fragile view of the world.  The reason I say this isn't fair to readers is because all the Lovecraft books held a sense of dread, pervading throughout the work, King's Revival did not.  Building tension and that unsettling feeling throughout the whole story and it just wasn't there.

     The tension seemed to be lacking at many points. leaving me with the feeling that something should be happening, but wasn't.  It is a bit frustrating to know that "something happened," and never really get any true indications of what.  No clues to the strange and dark things to come.  Perhaps the supernatural terrors were on lunch break?  Sure, one might chalk it up to thinking it would add to the disorienting nature of the experience to have something this drastic occur in the end, but I really feel that it came off as too large of a stretch.  There needed to be a little more in the way of perceptible dread leading up to the ending where Revival takes a turn for the weird.  The books mentions the slow boil method to cook a frog, but here it goes from a simmer straight to boiling over with no in between.

     As it is, Revival is still a great read, if you are a fan of King in any way, at least.  It has all the typical staples- young love, terrible deeds, manipulation, experiments, and shock value horror.  It's still more than worth a read and I'd still recommend it solely for the descriptions of the "curtain pull" moment at the end with its nice homage carved in basalt.

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