Review: Revival

By Stephen King
(Scribner Book Company, Hardcover, 9781476770383, November 2014, 405pp.)

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

A young, impressionable boy is taken with the local minister and his ability to make things magical, but when their faith is tested, both battle their own demons to survive.

The Rest of It:

Jamie Morton is only six-years old when Charles Jacobs comes to town. Jacobs, married with a young son of his own, quickly takes a liking to Jamie and his family. In fact, many of the folks in town begin to attend church again just to hear what the new minister has to say and when Jamie’s brother loses his voice in a freak accident, Charles Jacobs comes to his aid and heals him. Not with spiritual healing, but with electricity.

After a tragic accident, Jacobs faith in God disappears entirely and what he chooses to hold dear, are the electrical experiments he’s developed over the years. Traveling from town to town, he reinvents himself, peddling what is essentially lightning and a whole lot of fanfare. It’s at this point in his life, that he runs into Jamie again. This time Jamie is an adult, battling a wicked heroin addiction. Can Jamie be saved?

King has said in many interviews that Revival is his return to true horror. I believe his definition of horror and mine vary greatly these days. Perhaps writing about a heroin addiction IS horrific, given King’s personal battle with drug and alcohol addiction but the story itself is not scary in that “clowns in the sewer” way. Nope. It reminded me a lot of Frankenstein and the one Mary Shelley reference did not escape me. I hardly think it was a coincidence that he included it because just as I was thinking ‘Frankenstein’, the name dropped.

Without being specific, lots of terrible things happen and they are all devastating. Devastating enough to absolutely wreck a person and let me tell you, it tore me up. These characters are damaged and flawed and King does damaged and flawed so well.


The story lagged for me and since I was expecting a real horror story, I was slightly disappointed with the direction that it took. It seemed too safe and yet, I still enjoyed it. What King nailed is childhood itself. Those moments where Jamie is young and all of the wonders that go along with childhood… King was spot-on with them. That sense of innocence lost? Heartbreaking.

ReviveMe 2014

A group of us read this together and I must say, it was pretty quiet on Twitter. Nearly everyone was curious as to where the story was going but there wasn’t a whole lot to discuss. Compared to his other novels, the ones he is known for (IT, The Shining, The Stand, Carrie), this one seems a little thin but if you dig deep, there is substance there and some well-developed characters to spend some time with.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

17 thoughts on “Review: Revival”

    1. I didn’t think you liked horror, in general. Do you? Because this one is definitely not horror but still a decent story. Loved the characters.


  1. I’ve been wondering about the horror angle in Revival. It doesn’t seem like “classic” King. But I love his writing so will probably give this one a try.

    1. There are shades of classic King in there, particularly when it comes to the kid but there was a lot of foreshadowing in this one. So you are told what happened, before he’s given you the details. That bugs me.


  2. You’ve had a similar reaction to it that I’ve seen from everyone else. It won’t stop me from reading it of course, but I’m definitely less likely to drop everything and get to it immediately.

  3. I’m on the same page as you on this one. Definitely not one of my fave King reads, but it is also not one of worst. I do believe that he did another fabulous job of character development. One of the best out there in this category.

  4. I never seem to be in the OMG NEW KING, MUST READ camp so if I do get to this one it will be probably be years later (I still have Doctor Sleep to read!). I do agree that King does childhood so well. I was so impressed with that aspect of IT.

  5. So do you think that if you hadn’t gone into expecting a horror story you would have enjoyed it more or is it just not quite up to King’s standards?

  6. I just came to read your review after writing mine, and we shared a lot of the same thoughts! Especially as I had heard that this book was his return to traditional horror, I found it slow going until the last fourth of the book. I felt that using the first-person voice was too limiting and narrowed the story too much, also.

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