The Bottom Line: Not to be missed, this potboiler masquerades as a coming-of-age novel until its grand climax delivers one of the most satisfying and unsettling Stephen King finishes ever.
Perhaps one of the luxuries of being a perennial best seller is the ability to shed contemporary genre conventions and just take your time telling a great story. In Revival, King dispenses with the requisite opening chapter that most every thriller writer uses nowadays – the one that flash forwards to one of the book’s tense and horrifying moments. The thought is that a teaser of up-front action will make readers more patient during the 100 pages of character-building that follows.
King dispenses with all of that pretense, spending nearly all of the book telling the coming-of-age story of Jamie Morton, who, when Revival begins, is a little boy in a small New England town. He meets Charles Jacobs, who along with his beautiful wife, 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.
It’s in this town that Jamie witnesses Reverend Jacobs performing his first “miracle,” using electrical therapy to cure his brother. But when tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.
We grow up with Jamie as he becomes a musician, and follow his life, hardships and loves as he grows into middle age. We come to know his family and friends intimately. But when he crosses paths with Jacobs again, he finds that the preachers has transformed his miracles into something that can’t be entirely explained by science.
To say more would spoil the fun, but it’s safe to say that after reading Revival, you’ll never look at death the same way again.