I’ve been on a Stephen King kick over the past several years, after getting hooked by the audiobook edition of Lisey’s Story (narrated by Mare Winningham) which, like Revival – his latest – was more a dark fantasy that seemed to tap a very personal vein of emotion related to love, marriage, and the wellspring of creativity, than a straight-up horror story. I have a feeling I should have listened to Revival instead of reading it in print, as I found it a bit of a slog until the last 100 pages.
So, Revival is one of those “quiet horror” books that could fall into the category of science fiction or dark fantasy. The author unwinds a slow tale of a fervent evangelist preacher turned mad scientist, but Charles – the man whose hobby of electricity grows into an all-consuming passion – isn’t the main character. The first-person narrator, Jamie, is the main character, which limits the story to what he experiences or finds out. The story starts when Jamie is just a small boy in a large family and the preacher and his family move in next door, and it goes well into his middle-aged years.
Revival is pretty creepy, but in a slow-paced, ambiguous way, with the jolts few and far between as the narrator’s special connection with the preacher ebbs and flows. As a reader, you might not always be sure if the narrator is understanding events correctly or is just having a sad life – a highly creative person (a musician) who spirals down into addiction.
When I got to the ending of Revival, however, the book was redeemed in my mind – instead of making me want to have back all the hours I spent reading, as happened when I finished Under the Dome. (Another of the few Stephen King novels I read in print instead of listening to. Hmmmm.) From now on I’m sticking to the audio editions. (I still have It to listen to, one of these days!)
Simon & Schuster, Nov. 2014
Disclosure: No free copy! I borrowed it from the public library.