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A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will 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. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family's horrific loss. In his mid-thirties—addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate—Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil's devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It's a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe.

373 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2014

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About the author

Stephen King

2,691 books819k followers
Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen's grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale ("The Glass Floor") to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.

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5 stars
29,606 (24%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 12,410 reviews
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,868 reviews16.5k followers
March 6, 2019
I’ve been married for over 25 years with a 30 year mortgage and raised three boys, I’ve been to Iraq, taken and passed the bar exam and am in private practice.

I don’t scare easy.

This book was scary.

This was old school, spooky / creepy STEPHEN FREAKING KING wake you up in the middle of the night ‘cause Barlow is sneaking down the hallway scary.

Carrie walking Cujo down Shining Lane as Christine drives by.


First of all, any book that begins with a quote from H.P. Lovecraft gets a quick and decisive thumbs up. King starts us off with a gem:

“That is not dead which can eternal lie, / And with strange aeons, even death may die” – from The Call of Cthulhu itself. By this firing across the bow of our modern and suburban comfortable sanity, King gives warning that here be dragons, and in the immortal words of Samuel L. Jackson in Jurassic Park, we’d better “hold onto our butts.”

But King is too old and clever to jump put of the bushes on page one and yell BOOO!!

Oh no.

He draws us in as only he can, but you know it’s coming like a freight train coming down the tracks, but you don’t know what exactly, and then:


Building slowly and methodically (some critics may even say too slowly) King builds his narrative around a core family of characters and follows the natural progression over five decades towards an electrifying showdown. But the slower, more introspective build up is not unpleasant or tedious. King is a mature and talented writer and his slow drive towards terror is a scenic trip filled with dreamy landscape and flawed but well defined and interesting characters.

In the novel, King describes the old saying about how to boil a frog. As the old myth goes (may be true) you put a frog in a pan of cold water and then slowly turn up the heat until the frog is in boiling water and unable to move. This is a fitting metaphor for how King, the old master, grabs the reader. By the time we get to the fateful and (really no kidding) scary as hell ending, he has us boiling in the pot and we can only read on, mouth agape, flipping pages to the exhausting end.

How is it scary? Not in the freakshow, jump out behind the curtain, B-movie kind of scary. Revival evokes the deep seated, psychological and theological fears that stay with you long after you put the book down.

I loved the frequent Lovecraft and Mary Shelley references and the Bradburyesque carnie tone of the setting. King delivers, eight Cthulhu tentacles way up!

Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
November 30, 2014
It's time for that approximately biannual event once again - Stephen King has released a new novel. And it's a good one.

I never know how to approach a review for a Stephen King book. I use a different tone when writing about different kind of novels - classics and literary fiction usually get one style of review, fantasy/paranormal and YA (genre fiction, basically) get another. But where does Mr King fit?

The "problem" with Stephen King is that he writes such engrossing, imaginative pageturners that manage to hook you, creep you out and make you think. Every book release jumps to the top of the pop fiction charts. Which, in theory, is great; except that Mr King often gets overlooked as a truly great writer, which he is.

With this latest book, King takes one of the oldest of the old ideas and breathes new life into it. The underlying theme of this book is that timeless question: what lies after death? Is there anything beyond this world? Is there a way for the living to ever find out before their time comes?

Using his familiar talent for creating characters that feel entirely real, King at first introduces us to a small town and religious community in New England. Into this unremarkable place comes a new minister, Charles Jacobs; his arrival sparks a series of events that will change the lives of both our narrator (Jamie Morton) and numerous other unfortunate people for decades to come.

The story spans many years of Jamie's life; from his childhood in New England, to his teenage and young adult years as a musician, and his subsequent heroin addiction. Charles Jacobs will come back into his life many times and propel Jamie towards a ever more disturbing truth.

This book starts as a contemporary drama type book that creates complex characters, looks at themes of religion and family, and builds up an interesting three-dimensional portrait of a small community. But as the novel moves along, it becomes darker and creepier. It took me a while to understand why so many people thought this book was so scary and disturbing... but it was worth waiting for.

Unsettling. That is how I would describe this story. It's not a tale of traditional monsters that hunt you down in the dark; in fact, it plays on the very real fears of everyone. It takes questions everyone has asked themselves and creates something horrifying out of it.

I know this is a heavy claim to make, but I think this might be one of my favourite Stephen King novels.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,574 reviews5,911 followers
November 15, 2014
Something happened.

Mother fuck..I'm gonna have nightmares from this shit.

The story begins with young Jamie outside playing war with some army soldiers his sister had gotten him for his birthday. A man's shadow falls across him and so begins what Jamie calls his "fifth business."

This book is somewhat of a coming of age story. The reader gets to grow up with Jamie and we are all involved with Reverend Charles Jacobs too..whether we want to be or not.
Jamie's story takes you through five decades of his life weaving in and out with encounters with the charismatic Jacobs.

There were other truths there, as well. I think most people who have suffered great losses in the lives-great tragedies-come to a crossroads. Maybe not right then, but when the shock wears off. It may be months later, it may be years. They either expand as a result of their experience, or they contract.

Reading this book for the most part was being wrapped up in beautiful writing..you just kept reading for the pure pleasure. The story was good, you had in the back of your mind that it could turn at any given moment...but well old Stephen King has gone softer in the last few years..don't worry too much...

I think we all pissed Stephen King off by calling him soft.

Because then.....

Fuck soft. That's what this book says.

How can something so simple be so powerful? That's what is said about the most wonderful things though isn't it?

PS..thank you again to my book fairy. You know who you are.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,296 reviews120k followers
October 22, 2021
this is how we bring about our own damnation, you know—by ignoring the voice that begs us to stop. To stop while there’s still time.
There is a somewhat leisurely feel to Stephen King’s latest, Revival. Dramatic events are sprinkled throughout the narrative, but the story moves along at what seems a deliberate pace. I am reminded of Ted Williams’s advice for batters, “wait, wait, wait, then quick, quick, quick.” The final, high voltage scenes of Revival pay for the whole.

Our narrator, Jamie Morton, is playing with his toy soldiers at age six when a new, young pastor arrives.
Plenty going on, but at that moment everything seemed to fall still. I know it’s only the sort of illusion caused by a faulty memory (not to mention a suitcase loaded with dark associations), but the recollection is very strong. All of a sudden there were no kids yelling in the backyard, no records playing upstairs, no banging from the garage. Not a single bird singing.

Then the man bent down and the westering sun glared over his shoulder, momentarily blinding me. I raised my hand to shield my eyes.
Uh oh. Not exactly meet cute. But new pastor Charlie Jacobs soon charms the residents of Harlow, Maine. He is particularly interested in electricity, and couches many of his sermons and his religious instruction classes for the congregation’s kids in terms of science. His wife and young son are also beloved in the town. But after he suffers a great tragedy, Charlie has a Road from Damascus moment and finds his polarity reversed.

SK - From his site - Photo Credit: Shane Leonard

We follow Jamie over the circuit of his life, with its significant ups and downs, getting reports on his family over those years as well. At crucial moments in his journey, Jamie encounters Charlie Jacobs again.
Sometimes a person…comes into your life…the joker who pops out of the deck at odd intervals over the years, often during a moment of crisis. In the movies this sort of character is known as the fifth business, or the change agent. When he turns up in a film, you know he’s there because the screen writer put him there. But who is screenwriting our lives? Fate or coincidence? I want to believe it’s the latter. I want that with all my heart and soul. When I think of Charles Jacobs—my fifth business, my change agent, my nemesis—I can’t bear to believe his presence in my life had anything to do with fate. It would mean that all these terrible things—these horrors—were meant to happen. If that is so, then there is no such thing as light, and our belief in it is a foolish illusion. If that is so, we live in darkness like animals in a burrow, or ants deep in their hill.
And not alone.
If this reminds one of the sort of opening you might read in a tale by H.P. Lovecraft, it is probably no accident. King uses a Lovecraft quote to open the book
That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons, even death may die.
There will be more references to HP in the pages to come, particularly of the Cthulhu sort. King notes this in an interview he did with Goodreads, citing among his influences
...Lovecraft … and my own religious upbringing. And I've been wanting to write about tent show healings for a long time.
I wanted to write a balls-to-the-wall supernatural horror story, something I haven't done in a long time. I also wanted to use Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, but in a new fashion, if I could, stripping away Lovecraft's high-flown language.
Thar she blows! or It’s Alive! - you choose

Jamie seems another avatar for the author as substance-abuser. He works as a musician and finally hits rock bottom. This is a theme that has been frequent in King’s recent writing. But there are bigger bowls to cook in Revival. It is the very nature of reality, of death and the afterlife that is at issue, as Charlie pursues understanding of what he believes is the greatest power in the universe, the current that underlies everything, the Potestas magnum universum. In seeking this knowledge Charlie joins with other such questers from literature. Victor Frankenstein challenged death itself. King lets us in on the link by splicing together a few familiar names:
“Once upon a time, in the seventies, a man named Franklin Fay married a woman named Janice Shelley. They were graduate students in the English Department at Columbia University, and went on to teach together. Franklin was a published poet—I’ve read his work and it’s quite good. Given more time he might have been one of the great ones. His wife wrote her dissertation on James Joyce and taught English and Irish literature, in 1980, they had a daughter.”
and Mary goes on to bear a child, Viktor. Another godly challenger is powered up as well.
He was staring out the window, hands clasped behind his back like a ship’s captain on the bridge.
King is not referring to the Love Boat. And he gets overt about his reference a short time later.

In a recent Rollingstone interview, King was asked when he first got the idea Revival .
I've had it since I was a kid, really. I read this story called The Great God Pan in high school, and there were these two characters waiting to see if this woman could come back from the dead and tell them what was over there. It just creeped me out. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about this Mary Shelley-Frankenstein thing.
As King gets on in years, it is not surprising to see him write a story that spans a lifetime, seeing the growth, the change in people, family, friends.
this is, at least to a degree, about getting old and the rapid passage of our lives. "It's a damn short movie," James McMurtry says, "how'd we ever end up here?"
Frankly, I did not get a huge charge out of most of the book, but when sparks fly at the climax, you may find your hair standing on end. King does not short-circuit the story with too much emphasis on the recovering-substance-abuser element. There are some obvious correlations. One must expect that the blackouts experienced by many in this story echo blackouts experienced by real people, living at a much lower voltage. In which case, religion, in the form of Charlie’s revival-tent antics, is truly the opiate of the masses. That there are long-term after-effects from exposure to Charlie’s highly charged healing also speaks to the similarity religion has to addictive substances. King’s consideration of science versus faith is definitely worthwhile, as is his look at how people with power and/or influence abuse their abilities and position, and how people in need look to externals to solve their problems. If you are looking for non-stop thrills, you will not find that here. But I suggest you overcome your resistance because there is thematic substance here, engaging characters and because the payoff is so electrifying.

PS - This book might explain why soldiers near death are so often heard to use the word “Mother.”

Review posted – 11/27/14

Publication date – 11/11/14

This review has also been posted at Cootsreviews.com, or soon will be

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Here is SK’s site

There are several Audio excerpts here that will give you a taste should you prefer listening to reading

-----Oregon Live

As the review was getting a bit quote-heavy, I left this out of the review proper, but here is a taste of Arthur Machen’s story, The Great God Pan:
You see me standing here beside you, and hear my voice; but I tell you that all these things—yes, from that star that has just shone out in the sky to the solid ground beneath our feet—I say that all these are but dreams and shadows; the shadows that hide the real world from our eyes. There is a real world, but it is beyond this glamour and this vision, beyond these 'chases in Arras, dreams in a career,' beyond them all as beyond a veil. I do not know whether any human being has ever lifted that veil; but I do know, Clarke, that you and I shall see it lifted this very night from before another's eyes. You may think this all strange nonsense; it may be strange, but it is true, and the ancients knew what lifting the veil means. They called it seeing the god Pan."
And here is a link to the entire tale on the Gutenberg Project site.

A few other King Family items I have reviewed
by Stephen King
-----The Shining
-----Doctor Sleep
-----Under the Dome
-----Duma Key
-----Lisey's Story
-----The Institute
-----Mr. Mercedes

by Joe Hill
-----Full Throttle
-----Strange Weather
-----The Fireman
-----20th Century Ghosts
-----Heart-Shaped Box
November 29, 2014
Let me say something up front: King is my favorite author. I'm not a 'hater' by any stretch of the imagination. I've read all his books multiple times. This novel is just that bad. I realize I'm going to get a whole lot of hate for this review but I refuse to hold my tongue on this. This isn't 'classic King'. There is no 'slow burn'. This is just lazy, shitty writing with an overly hyped and dramatic ending that was stupid and cliche.

One of the things I loved about King (yes, past tense there) was the fact that he didn't publish shitty books just because he could but this book proves that last ideal wrong. If I didn't love his writing as much as I do, I'd've been happy never to read another one of his books.

I wanted to write that the first 40% of the book is skippable and that it picks up but that was false on my part because the pick up is quickly let go again.

Basically, King gives us the entire life story of the MC from about 5-ish to post 50's. We hear everything and it's all boring. As I said above, the first 40% is completely skippable. It holds only one relevant detail: the fact that the pastor lost his family.

Despite what it says in the blurb, the pastor only plays a small part in the book. It's mainly this guy's life with one or two side quests into what the pastor is doing. We hear of the same list of those people he saved over and over again. Nothing new. He occasionally sees the pastor or talks with him but he quickly leaves and goes about his boring life again.

And then the ending was as cliche as all hell and done to death already before this book was published (and he does a particularly bad job of it as it were.) The parting shot at the 'victims' seemed rather desperate too. I honestly couldn't care less about the side effects of the treatment for those he healed (note the word healed -- I'm not being callus with that. My nephew had cancer when he turned 2.5 yrs old. He could've easily died from the treatment but he'd've also died without the treatment. Life and death matters of that sort are completely up to the individual) and it seemed like a part of the author agree that that lacked any real horror so he had to manufacturer that whole mess to make the story 'dark'.

There was the potential of a really scary story here but it's lost in the entire life story of this boring man. I'd've loved to hear more about the pastor and his 'victims' and much, much less about the young black chick he's banging and how young that makes him feel, his family reunions, or how he lost his virginity.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
745 reviews11.9k followers
October 17, 2022
"People say that where there’s life, there’s hope, and I have no quarrel with that, but I also believe the reverse.
There is hope, therefore I live."

I am a true Stephen King collector, a terminal case of his Constant Reader. Year after year I get my hands on his stories, and almost with no exceptions my admiration for the man continues to grow. I love his disturbingly vivid imagination, the rare quality of his storytelling voice, his ability to suck you into a tale he weaves, and an uncanny talent for making his characters feel very real.

The Revival is definitely a "newer" King story, in line with those over the last 15 years or so - a bit slower, a tad more introspective, with fewer overt scares and more of a tense buildup to the story, with the awareness and the weight of years lived and wisdom gained and a bit of nostalgia for the years past.

And, as a true King story, it's unsettling and full of bleak uneasiness lurking behind every page.
"Something happened."

The story is not 'horror'. As is common with King's books, especially the later ones, it's not a tale of things that jump out at you and startle you or gross you out - King, especially of the later years, is a different brand of writer that that. The aim is to make you uneasy, unsettled, to sense something wrong under the fabric of everyday existence, to remember your real everyday fears and make them creepily disturbing, to overlay a jarring note onto the harmony of life.

"She was just a year old, but she had wanted me to stay longer. That’s how you know you’re home, I think, no matter how far you’ve gone from it or how long you’ve been in some other place. Home is where they want you to stay longer."

The first half of this book would satisfy even the most literary of critics looking for a great American novel. Through Jamie Morton's recollection of the five decades of his life we get a nuanced portrait of a small-town community a few decades past, with the beauty and the ugliness and all the smallmindedness that permeates such a place. It touches upon the magic of childhood with all the nostalgia for that time of life, has the frequent feel of a Bildungsroman with a boy becoming a man, revisiting clearly ever-important to King themes of addiction and self-destruction, and through the first half of it only has the thin strands of magical realism lurking right below the surface, stirring the feelings of uneasiness and impending doom. This part is where King truly shines in his writing skill, proving once again that's it's not only wine and cheese that age beautifully - it's also great writers, the cohort to which he undoubtedly belongs.
"Well, you know what they say, Jamie: The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

The plots thickens in the second half of the book, when an aging guitarist and former addict Jamie Morton reconnects with Charles Daniel Jacobs, a pastor from his childhood who denounced religion after the senseless deaths of his wife and child and, fueled with lifelong obsession with electricity, took a road that took him from being a carny to a televangelist to a man trying to break open the greatest secret of the human life.
"This is how we bring about our own damnation, you know—by ignoring the voice that begs us to stop. To stop while there’s still time."

Death is what awaits all of us, and the older we get and the more of the world we see, the more the inevitability of the final journey becomes real. As King observed way back in the haunting conclusion to The Green Mile, "We each owe a death, there are no exceptions, I know that, but sometimes, oh God, the Green Mile is so long."

What lies beyond death? What happens when our loved ones are senselessly yanked out away from us, and we are left to pick up the pieces? Will finally knowing the answer bring closure, peace, satisfaction? Or will it crush even the most beautiful ray of hope? Is it better to just hope for the reassuring idea of nothing, blackness, emptiness? Because we tell all kinds of cheerfully uplifting things to our children to teach them to come to peace with the inevitable, but how many of us eventually come to see the point in Charlie Jacobs' angry, disillusioned thoughts?
“Religion is the theological equivalent of a quick-buck insurance scam, where you pay in your premium year after year, and then, when you need the benefits you paid for so – pardon the pun – so religiously, you discover the company that took your money does not, in fact, exist.”

Yes, this book is unsettling. King does not shy away from the uncomfortable and knows exactly which buttons to push to get the hollow feeling deep down in your gut. He knows that sometimes less is more, and that sinister undertones can do more for you than the overt show of terror. Which, by the way, is exactly why the uneasy hints of the reality other than that Jamie Morton and the rest of us are accustomed to worked so much better for me than the final climactic confrontation (as, I must confess, frequently happens with King's books - he's the master of tense buildup, but the resolutions are sometimes just a tad weaker). Because it's the psychological terror that gnaws at your brain, not the atavistic startles that the less skilled writers may go for.

All together, this book works beautifully. At half the length of some of King's doorstoppers, it still has an expansive feeling that turns a fictional memoir into almost a chronicle while managing nevertheless to remain tight and focused. It's everything that we Constant Readers have learned to expect from King - and he does not fail to deliver.

4.5 stars.
"People say that where there’s life, there’s hope, and I have no quarrel with that, but I also believe the reverse.
There is hope, therefore I live."


Also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,828 followers
February 29, 2016
From the synopsis on Stephen King’s website:

"This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written."

That’s a bold statement that sets the bar very high for Revival. So does it clear it?

Almost. I think. If it doesn’t then it comes damn close which still makes this a pretty impressive achievement for Uncle Steve at this point in his long career.

Jamie Morton first meets Reverend Charles Jacobs when he’s a 6 year old kid in Maine during the early ‘60s. Jacobs is a popular minister with a pretty wife and infant son, and he loves fiddling with electrical gadgets. Jamie and Jacobs have a bond from the moment they meet that is cemented later when Jacobs aids a member of Jamie’s family. After a tragedy drives Jacobs out of town Jamie profoundly feels the loss, but time marches on. When he becomes a teenager Jamie discovers he has some musical talent and as an adult he makes a living as a rhythm guitar player in bar bands. But Jamie hasn’t seen the last of Jacobs as their paths cross again and again over the years and each strange encounter leaves Jamie increasingly worried about what Jacobs is up to.

I’ve seen complaints from some readers that this is too slow and that the ending doesn’t live up to the hype. I can understand why. The readers’ impressions of it are probably going to be determined by how well the punch King spends the entire book setting us all up for landed. If it was a glancing blow, then you’ll shrug it off. After all, there are no evil clowns or haunted hotels or telekinetic teenagers getting buckets of pig blood dumped over them. The book could almost be one of those VH1 Behind the Music bios about Jamie Morton if King doesn’t pull off the last act for you.

But if that punch lands solidly… If, like me, King catches you squarely with that jab of an ending, then you’re going to be lying on the floor looking up at the ceiling with a bloody nose and spitting broken teeth as you mumble, “The horror….the horror…”

What made that ending so powerful? *

I’ll be thinking about this one for a while, and it could end fairly high in my personal ranking of King novels after some reflection. Probably not top five, but maybe top fifteen or even top ten. However, I think it’s got a serious chance of being the one I find the most disturbing of them all.

* - Any comments about the ending that aren't hidden by a spoiler tag will be deleted. Sorry, but I don't want anyone who hasn't read it getting spoiled on this review.

Also posted at Kemper's Book Blog.
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books912 followers
April 7, 2019
I was about ready to give Stephen King a Pulitzer for this one. The character development was beyond outstanding and the impending doom so delicious I couldn't stop turning the pages. Unfortunately the ending sucked. There's really no other way to put it. Totally random, off the wall, lame excuse to pay homage to Frankenstein and Lovecraft. I like H.P. Lovecraft and Mary Shelley too, but you can't write a glorious novel as emotionally rich as Shawshank and then toss in beasties and call it good. Like, I get he's expected to pump out a few books each year - but isn't it worth extra time to get it right?

Anyway, I still have to give the book 4 stars because 20 pages of garbage shouldn't ruin 380 pages of perfection. Like most SK fans, I think we've come to accept that endings are not his expertise anyway.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,934 reviews10.6k followers
November 17, 2014
When Jamie Morton first encounters the Reverend Charles Daniel Jacobs, he is six years old. Jacobs cures his brother's muteness, only to leave town a broken man when his wife and son are killed. Jamie and the Rev will cross paths again and again as the Rev seeks to master what he calls the secret electricity, the energy that powers the universe...

I found this book to be an extremely mixed bag, which you'll read in a moment.

Revival follows the life of Jamie Morton, a rhythm guitarist, whose life intersects with Charles Jacobs, a priest/huckster/mad scientist who things electricity is the key to most of life's mysteries. I'm going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible.

Since Stephen King produces best sellers more often than I wash my car, I tend to forget what a great writer he is. I think if he didn't love scaring the piss out of people, he probably would have been a literary writer of some renown. The characters he creates in this seem very real, with an exception I'll cover in a minute. The picture he paints of Jamie Morton's life is very well written, warts and all.

While I enjoyed reading the book due to the Kingliness of the writing, it wasn't all that exciting. I was interested in Jamie's journey from rock and roller to drug addict to studio musician but the meat of the story was whenever he crossed paths with Charles Jacobs, or whatever he was calling himself at the time. Structurally, it reminded me of The Shining. There was a long buildup with just enough teasing to keep me interested. If it wasn't for the ending, I probably would have given this a two.

The other thing that didn't quite sit right is that Jacobs evolved from being one cartoonish stereotype to another, from devout priest to carny to evangelist to scene-chewing villain. He's the one character I never really believed in. Also, what's with Stephen King's recent obsession with carnies? Doctor Sleep and Joyland both featured them and now this one.

All that being said, I was entertained by Revival but not enthralled by it. I LOVED the glimpse of the afterlife at the end. "That is not dead which can eternal lie" indeed. Also, the King Easter eggs were also cool.

I didn't love it but it's definitely better than Joyland, Doctor Sleep, and Mr. Mercedes. We'll call it 3.5 out of 5.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,563 reviews862 followers
November 25, 2021
I really enjoyed this, it gave me the feeling of going back to the Old Skool King of Castle Rock days with small town adventures of the paranormal and supernatural. In Revival we get to follow the intertwining lives of Jamie Morton and minister Charles Jacobs; a gnawing suspense builds through the book, as the Constant Reader slowly, but surely begins to see where King is taking them, this time. Nice! 8 out of 12.

2016 read
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,541 reviews9,837 followers
January 11, 2023
In 1962, while out playing in his yard, 6-year old, Jamie Morton, has a shadow fall upon him. He looks up and sees a statuesque man in church garb peering down at him.

The man introduces himself as Charles Jacobs, he's the new reverend, just arrived in town.

Jacobs, the Rev, is young, vibrant and successful at filling pews; breathing life back into the somewhat stale local church.

He also develops strong relationships with a lot of the young people, Jamie included, who actually is a favorite of sorts for Jacobs.

After tragedy strikes, Jacobs is prompted to move on. That's not the last time Jamie will come across him however; not by a long shot.

From there the narrative progresses with a classic coming-of-age feel and ultimately, ends up spanning five decades.

We follow Jamie as he discovers his gift for music, finds first love, moves from home, struggles with addiction and throughout it all, encounters Jacobs again and again.

Jacobs is the shadow that falls over his entire life.

I didn't come up with that. That's from the book, but definitely captures Jacobs presence in this story.

I loved the way King built this one up and progressed the narrative. As Jamie begins to realize the depths to which Jacobs has gone with his electrical obsessions, and subsequent pursuit of its potential healing powers, the intensity grows and grows.

The interactions between Jamie and Jacobs begin to feel more dangerous every time they meet.

Jacobs electrical work and experiments were so interesting, but most interesting of all to me, were his healings. The revival-tent displays of power. It had a real mad scientist energy that had me more charged than Frankenstein's monster.

Revival is a stunning example of King's status as master storyteller.

From beginning to end, I was entranced. There is so much substance to be found within these pages; so many lines I wish I could recall at will. It's exceptional. I feel like I will carry this story with me for a long time to come.

The ending is horrifying. Emotionally, philosophically, theologically; there's a lot to unpack.

We're talking full blown existential crisis upon reading the last 40-or so pages. I would love to read this again and annotate it. I definitely think it is worthy of that care.

Thank you to all my Constant Reader friends who finally pushed me to pick this one up. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,419 followers
December 22, 2014

What the hell do you read next after you finish a book like this!?

While not a full on frontal assault horror novel in the tradition of The Shining or Pet Sematary, Revival definitely ranks as one of the darkest, most unsettling books King has written in a long time. It's a slow burn that touches on a lot of themes we've come to expect from King in his golden years -- family, nostalgia, grief and loss. King turned 67 this year and he seems to have reached a point in his life where the "big questions" about what it all means Alfie, and where we all end up are weighing heavy on his mind and heart. It's inevitable, right? I turned 40 this year, and I know those questions have already started to weigh on me.

This is one of those books I want to peel back layer by layer and dig down deep into its beating heart. King has moved past penning coming-of-age novels to now tackling what happens when we get old. What do our relationships look like to friends, lovers, siblings, parents when we start to lose hair where we want it, and gain it where we don't? What does a life of regret look like? What does redemption look like?

There is this exploration in Revival in a luxurious, patient way that could only be written by an author of King's maturity and discipline. It's been a humbling, emotional experience for me as a Constant Reader to watch how this man's work and art have aged with him, have reached places only possible because he's lived this long to keep telling the tales.

I get frustrated sometimes with certain fans (with hearts in the right place) who still want King to be churning out the kind of books he was writing in the 80's. Some of the best stuff the man has written happened in that decade. No doubt. He was a writing machine. With young kids and a coke habit to boot. But he's not that man anymore. Decades have come and gone and the writing should be changing to reflect that. Not just the style, but the contents. What King cares about, what he's come to realize and believe to be true, these are some of the passions that he injects into his writing now. There is a self-awareness and self-reflection that just wasn't apparent in his earlier novels. I'm not saying one is better than the other, just different, with different rewards to be found and had.

The first three-quarters of this book represent some of the most literary writing King has done over the span of his incredibly long (and hopefully even longer) prolific career. Yes it feels familiar -- there is the small Maine town and the coming-of-age elements of young children navigating a threatening and perilous world. But the writing is so rich this time, lyrical even. The doom is laying on the horizon, you can almost glimpse it, but you don't really know where it's going to come from. Or when.

One of the things I've loved about King over the years is his profound ability to assemble a world and characters that are so very, very normal. They are us. They are him. They are who we know and love. And the world they populate is normal too. Small town USA. Baseball games, apple pie. Rock and roll on the radio. But into this normal world creeps something slimy and sinister. While ordinary life of first loves, car accidents, weddings, births and tinnitus march ever onward, the sinister stays hidden in the shadows, watching and waiting to make its move. It's all so very fucking normal, until it isn't.

It's the rat trap waiting in the dark hole that you just had to stick your hand into. *SNAP*

The last quarter of this book is the snap! and it's either going to work for you or not. King has written a beautiful dedication (he often does) paying his respects to all those legendary writers of the dark who helped "build his house". In the pages of Revival the long shadow of their influence live and breathe in Charles Jacobs' obsession with electricity and his unnatural lifelong quest for answers and revelation. The Bible says: seek and ye shall find. But we must be prepared for the unraveling of the mystery and realize that we are just as likely to fall to our knees in horror as wonder.

Profile Image for Rebecca.
237 reviews209 followers
October 16, 2021
“Everyone needs a hobby, he said. And everyone needs a miracle or two, just to prove life is more than just one long trudge from the cradle to the grave.”

Revival follows the story of Jamie Morton and Charles Jacobs. When Jamie is six, Charles Jacobs moves to his small town in Maine and becomes the new minister of the local church. Reverend Jacobs, along with his wife and son, are loved by the entire community. Jamie in particular forms a deep bond with Reverend Jacobs, based on their mutual love for experiments in electricity.

Suddenly tragedy strikes, and the charming preacher curses God, and is banished from the shocked town.

Many years later, Jamie, now a heroin addict encounters Charles Jacobs again. At a carnival on stage, performing portraits in Electricity. During this encounter, Charles leaves Jamie with a renewed life. Their bond becomes a pact that leaves Jamie indebted and connected to Charles for all time.

Revival is a dark, eerie, tragic and brutal story about religion, addiction, family, music, life and most importantly death.

I adore novels that span decades and Revival was no exception. I got to live through and experience the love, loss, victories and defeats of the protagonist in a way that made me completely attached to him. The character development in this novel is insane. I would have happily continued reading for another 200 pages.

The reveal and ending were brilliant, giving me those ‘old school’ Stephen King vibes. Absolutely terrifying and I loved it! If I don’t have nightmares I’ll be surprised….and disappointed ;)

I loved this book. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,621 followers
November 3, 2017

God, The cover is so attractive, yet deceiving..

It's not Horror, not fast thriller and not That creepy..

Mostly it's about coming of age, Nostalgia..It's about Life..

Life; Movies & "Paperbacks", Sex & Drugs..And TOO MUCH Rock & Roll..

It's about a Shadow with no light..getting darker & darker..till you lose faith that there's any light..
And the only light you'll see here..is the Thunderous Lightnings.
Yeah,it's also about losing faith. Not just about life, but also about what's coming up next..what's Death and what's beyond..
And it's about secret power..Electricity..lighting bolts..and Volts..
"That is Not Dead which can Eternal Lie, and with Strange Aeons Even Death may die"
H.P. Lovecraft


That's it...I can't spoil it to you, It was really great "living" with Jamie Morton for over 50 years...
"it's been 9 days for me but really seemed like years"

I really liked it..It's my first read for Mr. King and I know it's late but late better than never..

The Story and the Characters

A wonderful drawing of family life in the 60s...the early life of Jamie Morton, the tragedy of it too was very touching.
The coming of age..the sweet Nostalgia..and family reunions..
And I loved Reverend Charlie's character development, and basically all of them...
Mr. King really gave all his characters real life and real soul..
Even the setting, was so real, I told you I was "living" the novel..

I didn't like the Rock and Roll parts
-which was a bit too much- since I'm not a big fan,but clearly Mr. King is..
but was okay to fast read these parts, also the sex and affairs which wasn't bad, just over talked about at some moments specially by the late chapters
-with the parts when Jamie and his partner tracking the revival's healed patients, I loved that parts was so creepy and thriller but slowed by his and her affair-.

It's also was hard to follow at some parts where was 'Too Much Capital Letter In The Beginning Of Each Word' that's refers always to names of musicians , local towns, roads , songs or whatever that requires you'd be so American and so into Rock and Roll.

On the other hand, I loved the many movies references and techniques specially at the beginning when the narrator showing how our lives similar to movies..I always believe that myself..
“But who is screenwriting our lives? Fate or coincidence?
I want to believe it’s the latter. I want that with all my heart and soul.
When I think of Charles Jacobs —my fifth business, my change agent, my nemesis— I can’t bear to believe his presence in my life had anything to do with fate. It would mean that all these terrible things—these horrors—were meant to happen.
If that is so, then there is no such thing as light, and our belief in it is a foolish illusion. If that is so, we live in darkness like animals in a burrow, or ants deep in their hill. And not alone.”

And one more thing...Atheism...

May be it wasn't about Horror Carnivals as I've presumed before..


It wasn't "Joyful" as it may seem..It gets darker and darker..till you might lose faith in any joy..even light..as if it's the notorious "God Delusion" disguised into a novel..


The Terrible Sermon in the beginning of the Novel was "shocking" actually ...yet I can't deny It have some even little reason in it..

“people always want a reason for the bad things in life. Sometimes there ain’t one.”

And the irony here that I witness some terrible things too ,one very recent , just the day before I complete this review "16th Dec.2014 " A terrible accident to a dear friend's mother and granny Sunday morning while they were heading to Church ,to attend a funeral , lead to a death , and a serious injuries to the mother !!!
It's really dark novel , it was really a bit like some lives, that turn darker and darker as it moves on..
The Revival part was haunting, The Cures...The Aftereffects, the seceret electricity...The Something that Happened...

“Then they all began to sing. The tune was “Happy Birthday,” but the lyrics had changed.
“Something happened . . . TO YOU! Something happened . . . TO YOU! Something happened, dear Jamie, something happened TO YOU!”
That was when I began to scream.”

It was slow as I told you more like life and drama story until the second half..When That Thing that Happened...and getting more dark..you'll never know may be till the last few lines why at the first page Jamie told us he hates Rev. Charlie.. was that because of the "Terrible Sermon"?
Well, I will let you discover yourself..
“God isn’t as important to people now,” my mother said one day after a particularly disappointing turnout. “A day will come when they’ll be sorry for that.”

I don't know why I felt it's really dark and for some reason,that there's no "Clear" point for me by the end which "team" Mr. King is -I'm sure he's not that dark- but I guess I will think about the ending for long..
I will read more H.P Lovecraft..and the other 10 authors this book dedicated for...

“This is how we bring about our own damnation, you know-by ignoring the voice that begs us to stop. To stop while there's still time.”

May be I didn't even know for sure what's That Thing that Happened ..
And I almost rate it 3...And still loved it, and if I go back in time would read it again...
But since that recent accident I mention yesterday..I rate it 4..and appreciate it a bit more..And Sure I'll read more for The King of Horror.. Stephen King.
“Life is a wheel, and it always comes back around to where it started.”

Mohammed Arabey
From 6 Dec.2014
To 14 Dec. 2014

So....The First "Presume" is here "The Old Pre-review
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,453 reviews7,563 followers
November 15, 2014
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

4.5 Stars

While I was reading this happened . . .

Commercial Photography

And now that I’m done and ready to write a review, I’m thinking “why the f*&^ do I do this to myself?!?!?!?” There’s no way I’ll be able to give this book the review it deserves – flagging the crap out of it is just like a salt-in-the-wound type of reminder of that fact. That leaves me with the question of “where to begin?” The most obvious place would be the beginning . . .

Jamie Morton is just a boy when he meets Charlie Jacobs. Charlie has been hired to be the new preacher and the entire Morton family quickly find themselves smitten with everything about him (as well as with his wife and baby). But when tragedy strikes, Reverend Jacobs’ faith in God vanishes and he delivers what is forever known after that day as the “Terrible Sermon.”

Decades pass and Jamie finds himself transformed from a teenager with an infatuation with an old hand-me-down guitar to a 30-something musician who, in the immortal words of Neil Young, has “seen the needle and the damage done.” A chance (if you believe in chance) encounter at the Oklahoma State fair with a carny called Dan Jacobs offers Jamie an opportunity to get clean and turn his life around. And then???? Well . . . “SOMETHING HAPPENED.”

Years later Jamie finds his path crossing one more time with a man now known as “Pastor Danny” and his “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” of sorts. A revival, if you will . . .

Commercial Photography

(Since we’re dealing with Stephen King I think it should probably be clear to most of you that at some point during this book the proverbial shit also hits the fan.)

Sooooooo, now that I’ve written all THAT, I should probably talk about my reaction at some point, huh? How did Revival make me feel?

It made me feel like I was home.

Commercial Photography

Not only did Jamie’s big, boisterous family remind me of my own, but by the end of the book (and over 5 decades of Jamie’s life), I felt like he was an old friend. For the most part, Revival read like a memoir to me – and it may not sound like a compliment since this is a King novel, but believe me when I say it is. King showed what King does best –great characters. As much as I’ve loved his most recent stories, I must admit I did not fall in love with the characters. That was so not the case with Revival. Not only did I love Jamie and Charlie, but I loved Jamie’s parents and siblings and Patsy and Tag-Along-Morrie and Hugh and on and on and on and on. An added bonus was that King didn’t bother attempting to delve into a deep “relationship” plotline. (You’ve gotta admit, for someone who has been married for eternity, he’s pretty shitty at writing couples.)

The only reason this book isn’t receiving all 5 Stars from me is because of what I thought was kind of a lackluster climax. Now now now, put down your pitchforks. I realize the consensus of other Constant Readers is going to differ from me on this point and most will feel that the near-ending (once you read it, you'll totally know the part I'm talking about, but there's no way I'm spoiling anything here) was the end all/be all of the entire story and that’s fine. I just didn’t find all the added hoopla to be necessary. All that was really required was what the good book tells us . . .

" For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. "

I know there are many who have not appreciated King’s past few releases. To you I can say, THE KING IS BACK – LONG LIVE THE KING! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. As for me and my feelings toward the master? I say keep on rockin’, sir, and remember " ALL THAT SHIT STARTS IN E. "
Profile Image for Annemarie.
249 reviews686 followers
March 7, 2020
You shouldn't go into this book thinking is going to be super scary. It's more of a coming-of-age story. These are my favourite kind of books, I love reading about characters getting older and finding out what things and situations shape them and influence their life.
So for me, this book was a wonderful little treat for in-between! It wasn't the most exciting or special book, and I definitely wouldn't recommend it to someone who hasn't read King before, but for an already established fan - this is wonderful. I definitely liked it more than I expected.
However, it's also a book where I don't have a lot of things to say. I had a nice reading experience, but I know the story won't stick in my mind for very long. But that's not necessarily a bad thing! After all, not every book needs to be over the top amazing.
Profile Image for Maciek.
562 reviews3,321 followers
November 15, 2014
The dust jacket of Revival promised a a contemporary Gothic novel in the "great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe, which would span five decades and contain the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. Stephen King himself said that the book is too scary", and that he doesn't want to think about it anymore, calling it "a nasty, dark piece of work.". This is his second book to be released this year, after the disappointing Mr. Mercedes. In comparison, Revival fares better - but that was a low point of comparison to begin with.

Readers expecting a Gothic novel are bound to be disappointed, as much of the book is typical King fare. Although the structure at first looks like a homage to the form - the protagonist relating the horrors that he has already experienced in recollection, short summaries below each chapter - it soon lapses into familiar territory.

Revival begins in the setting of so many of Stephen King novels, the ubiquitous small town in New England, and is narrated by Jamie Morton - a local boy who is the first to meet the town's new pastor, Charles Jacobs. Jacobs has just moved in with his wife and son, and quickly proves popular with the community , filling up the town church; he is also deeply passionate about electricity, which he describes to the church youth as a"one of God's doorways to the infinite". Jacob's good fortune doesn't last long - after a horrible accident strikes his family, he gives his last sermon - in passion he denounces and ridicules religious belief and curses God with anger and fury. It's obvious that his career as a local preacher is over, and Jacobs soon leaves town.

Jamie Morton grows up, and discovers his talent and passion for the guitar - he first joins a band in his school, and soon begins to perform professionally and tour with various bands, getting lost in drugs. This is my main problem with Revival - we've been here before; drug addiction is a running theme in many of King's novels, and main protagonists of books such as The Shining and Tommyknockers openly struggle with it. This isn't a surprise, as Stephen King himself was addicted to both drugs and alcohol during the 1980's - Misery is probably the clearest metaphor of addiction, with Annie Wilkes's deadly addiction to Paul Sheldon directly mirroring King's own destructive addiction to cocaine; his first "sober" novel is also about addiction though of a different kind, tellingly titled Needful Things.

The second main problem that I had with Revival is the lack of promised Gothic and pure horror. Approximately 3/4 of content is focused on Jamie's life - from his growing up in a small town and his relationship with his family, his first love and passion for music, and his downward spiral. King fans will delight in picking small references to his universe - the cities of Castle Rock and Jerusalem's Lot, Gunslingers, Roses and the number 19 among others - but I would argue that there's little of Edgar Allan Poe or Nathaniel Hawthorne to be found here. I was reminded of last year's Doctor Sleep, where the main character was an alcoholic who also struggled with addiction and recovery.

Luckily for us, Jamie's and Jacob's life intertwine throughout the book - Jamie meets his old friend at a carnival fair, where the reverend is creating "portraits in electricity". The meeting will have a drastic impact on Jamie, who will come to believe that Jacob's faith in electricity might not be entirely misguided. When Jamie and Jacobs will meet again, the pastor will reinvent himself as a faith healer in The First Church of Electricity, and although Jacobs's performances don't seem to be that different from other faith healers, Jamie will nonetheless suspect that there's something deeply troubling about them.

The last quarter of the novel is the best of all, and this is the part of the book where - finally - the Gothic horror comes to life, and develops into something much greater. Although the theme of electricity brings to mind Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein, the book owes a much larger debt to Arthur Machen's classic horror novella The Great God Pan, and the writings of H.P. Lovecraft (whose classic quote ...even death may die" is the book's epigraph, and signifies things to come). The novel is dedicated to both writers (among others), but Machen is singled out as is The Great God Pan, which King says has haunted him "all his life". Still, I can't help but think that the impact of the ending was significantly diminished with the long buildup, which felt largely separate from it and non-horrific. It feels weird to write it about a tribute to the classics of cosmic horror, but I think that it was a case of the proverbial too little, to late.

I was also disappointed in the ending for another reason:

My hopes for Revival were high; I expected it to revive, if you'll pardon the pun, the classic horror that was promised to us. I expected a rich, atmospheric horror, in tradition of Stephen King's own 'Salem's Lot or its great short story predecessor, Jerusalem's Lot, itself a tribute to Lovecraft's Rats in the Walls. This time the inspiration was too transparent, and in its ending sections Revival read as a homage to both Lovecraft and Machen - while I really wanted it to succeed and terrify on its own.
Profile Image for Ruth Turner.
408 reviews113 followers
November 23, 2014

If someone had sat me down, told me they were going to read to me, and asked me to guess the author, the only reason I would have guessed correctly were the mentions of Castle Rock, Jerusalem’s Lot and Joyland. Otherwise I wouldn’t have had a clue.

There’s something missing in this dark story, and it’s a connection to the characters. It’s one thing I love about King, his ability to breathe life into the wonderful characters that people his books. But this one left me flat.

It’s not unusual for me to read a book a day, especially when it’s a great story. But I’d only just made the halfway mark by day 3, and had begun to think I wouldn’t be able to finish it.

It did pick up somewhat in the second half, but when I reached the climax of the story I was really disappointed. Seriously? That’s it??

The book is exceptionally well written, which is no surprise, as Stephen King is an exceptional writer, and a master storyteller, but to me this was only just an ok read.

At one point in the story Jamie is asked if he wants to go on stage and play guitar. He declines because…“skills fade as the years stack up” and I believe this to be true, and not only for Jamie. I think, with King, this is perhaps the reason why his later books don’t work for me. It’s a depressing thought that I may have read the best that’s in him.

I enjoyed the early chapters and the Aftereffects, but the rest, not so much.

And scary? No, not at all. King has scared the bejeezus out of me with much better nasties than Charlie Jacobs.


Audio Trailer - Narrated by David Morse: http://stephenking.com/promo/revival/...

Excerpt from chapter 6. Audio also.

Profile Image for Paul.
Author 112 books8,439 followers
June 9, 2021
updated upon the reread (which I did by audio). This time around I really appreciated how Jamie's life was incredibly detailed to juxtapose against the potential meaningless of it all. Yeesh, man, so bleak.
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
644 reviews4,264 followers
January 30, 2021
“That’s how you know you’re home, I think, no matter how far you’ve gone from it or how long you’ve been in some other place. Home is where they want you to stay longer.”

Alongside 11/22/63, this is one of King’s strongest novel in the last 10 years, in my humble opinion. And if you don’t agree with me, I don’t care.

Revival tells the story of Jamie Morton and his inextricable link to Charles Jacobs, a pastor that enters Jamie’s life when he is only a child. Their paths cross regularly over the years, as Jacobs loses his faith and goes down the path of healing, whereas Jamie follows a life of rock and roll and addiction.

Revival has a few of my favourite King traits - a narrative that follows characters over decades evoking those coming-of-age feels, as well as the exploration of themes of loss, grief, religion and addiction. Oh - it also delivers what I believe to be one of King’s BEST endings.

This novel is a slow burn. It’s incredibly character driven, and nothing remotely scary or unnerving happens until towards the end. But that’s fine - I don’t read King to be spooked, I read King for fantastically drawn characters and relationships, impeccable writing and a damn good story. And that is exactly what you get with Revival. But that fucking badass ending is the icing on the cake.

I first read this around 5 years ago, and although I thoroughly enjoyed it then, in the time that has passed since, I have acquired a love for HP Lovecraft’s works and the Cthulhu mythos. This knowledge only deepened my love for this novel on my reread. Once again, another reason why I am a huge advocate for revisiting books. I also loved how Revival gave King the chance to write about another passion of his - rock n’ roll.

On the whole, Revival feels like old-school King to me. It’s hard-hitting, it’s bleak and itt rips your heart out. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. 5 stars.
Profile Image for Peter.
2,636 reviews476 followers
May 10, 2018
Absolutely great novel about ageing, pain, addiction, religion, quacks and death. King really manages to get you directly into the plot and you're getting older with his main character. Charlie Jacobs is extremely well drawn by the author. The end culminates into a Lovecractian ending. What a pageturning read. King on top on his abilities. Top recommendation!
Profile Image for Reading Corner.
88 reviews103 followers
October 2, 2016
2.5 stars

This book is so underwhelming and over hyped.I've only read two other King books but after reading this,my opinion of the other two has completely gone up.I found most of Revival incredibly boring and tedious to get through.There's no real build up in this book like King has in his other books,the atmosphere never felt tense and there was no real suspense,until maybe the end.

I thought the story was really boring,until the end when everything adds up but even that ending couldn't save this book.The story is dragged out and could easily cut 100 pages.I didn't care about any of the characters as I didn't think any were particularly interesting.Would I recommend this book?No.I recommend trying King's others books and give this one a miss.
Profile Image for Will M..
304 reviews615 followers
July 15, 2015
"People always want a reason for the bad things in life. Sometimes there ain't one."

Almost everyone assured me that this is King's scariest, darkest, and creepiest novel to date. I don't completely disagree with the numerous acclaims, but I am considering this novel as heavily flawed. The plot was immersing, but only to a certain extent. I now understand why some people warned me that this novel was a bit dragging in the middle. A lot of uninteresting things did happen in the middle, and it made the novel a bit dull.

King never steps back from the line between sanity and insanity. This novel leaped beyond insanity, and I'm glad that it did. This is King's specialty, horror. I wanted to be scared to the point of being unable to sleep, but honestly I was only a bit creeped out of the last few chapters, and that was it. The plot was not completely forgettable, but it's not something new, for me. There is one novel that popped up in my mind while reading this, and that would be King's older novel, Pet Sematary. They both had a similar theme, plot, and ending. The difference would be that Pet Sematary was executed way better, in terms of plot and characters. I hate to compare, but the resemblance can't be overlooked. Pet Sematary will forever be one of my favorite novels, but sadly I can't say the same for Revival.

This novel was not all bad though, and there are a lot of good things to say about it. The most prominent one would be the writing. You can never go wrong with King's writing. It will always be enthralling and would keep you reading till the end. It's not just the plot alone that does that, but the writing can have a huge effect on the reader's reading experience. King just knows what words to use, and how to properly construct an interesting sentence and paragraph. This is why I consider him to be a master story teller. He knows how to keep your attention.

The characters were a mix of good and bad. Jamie was interesting and didn't seem to annoy me in any way. I mostly like King's main characters, and Jamie is not an exception. The rest of his family were also interesting, and that's why I enjoyed most of the first chapters. The antagonist on the other hand, Charles Jacobs, was annoying as hell. He wasn't consistent from beginning to end. It felt like I was reading a different character in the latter parts. I know it might be necessary for the plot development, but I didn't like the sudden change in attitude. It didn't result into development, but rather confusion. He also had a certain vibe that I didn't like. He was obviously fake from the beginning, so all throughout the novel he was just annoying me.

The plot, like I said, was great. It had an interesting premise, and the conclusion was near satisfactory. If I haven't read Pet Sematary, I believe I wouldn't have predicted the ending. Less than halfway through the novel I already had a huge guess what the ending was going to be, and I'm disappointed that I was right. I like a good plot twist, something that would knock me out of my seat, but sadly this novel didn't do that to me. I know a lot of people who were caught off guard though, so maybe it's just me.

There are a lot of quotable lines in the novel, but I would be robbing you from the experience if I added all of them in here.

3.5/5 stars. Most of my friends loved this, but I've read better from King. I am considering this a really good horror/paranormal book, but not his best. If you're new to King then I'm quite positive that you'd be mesmerised by this novel. Highly recommended to horror aficionados and King fans. I know a lot of diehard King fans who still enjoyed this, so once again, it might just be me.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,938 reviews788 followers
October 22, 2016
For a while, I actually thought that this would be the first book I would give five stars to in ages. But in the end, it just got four stars. Why? Because of the ending. I just didn't like it very much. It was very depressing and for some reason, it felt like a letdown. All I could think was: "Is that all, have I been reading all day for that kind of ending?" I would rather have had a more ambiguous ending to the story. Instead of just the bleak ending. (I need to read something cheerful after this...) However, I'm sure there are people that will love the ending, and it was not a bad ending, but perhaps I'm just a gal that what some hope in the end...

The rest of the book was great, I love Jamie and his family. I love watching him growing up, hell I would have loved reading a book about Jamie's life without Charles Jacobs. I know Jamie would have been a hell of a lot of happier without him in his life. Stephen King is a master telling tales, he has an uncanny ability to create interesting characters (both good and bad) and this book is one his greatest!
Profile Image for Sara.
198 reviews145 followers
September 18, 2021
This book is a weird journey, with a even weirder ending. And i'm here for it 👏😂

Profile Image for Stepheny.
381 reviews542 followers
December 18, 2014
I’m not sure that I have ever felt as conflicted about my feelings on a book by Stephen King as I do about Revival. I loved it. I hated it. It was ok. It was brilliant. It was a letdown. It was weird. It was something.

I was hooked right from the start. If there is one thing King is top-notch at- it’s creating a rich atmosphere about youth growing up in the good ole days. I think that is why IT will remain my all-time favorite book. There is nothing better than King writing about the 1950’s. I already have an unnatural obsession with that particular decade so anytime there’s a book set in that time period it automatically tops my list. I realize we meet Jamie Morton in 1962 but once again, King manages to transport his readers back to that exact moment in time and it’s so believable you forget the world you live in. The events that take place in that first quarter or so of the book are just incredible. I loved every word.

It’s when we flash forward to older, drug-addicted Jamie that King kind of lost me. I’m ok with character growth and I am definitely ok with characters spiraling down into a pit of addiction and self-destructive behavior. Here’s what I don’t like- getting a brief rundown of “Here’s how it was….here’s how it is now.” with nothing in the middle to get me there. I especially don’t like this when there’s repeated mention of what happened to Claire and then no further elaboration. I felt that was really a misused piece of information that was crucial to Jamie’s regression and damnit I wanted to read more about that!

The same can be said for Mr. Charlie Jacobs. We understand that what happens to him, or rather to his family, is going to affect him greatly. I honestly would have loved to see more of his breakdown. I loved where King took Charlie as far as him turning into this crazed psychopath whose obsession completely takes over his life. That was brilliant! But once again, we touch on it, we hear whispers about it and then we jump ahead. Overall I found all of the time hopping to be rather choppy and poorly executed. King is so much better at crossing decades of time than he showed in Revival. It felt disconnected and somehow unrelated. The events merely spots on a timeline.

Being the avid King reader that I am I did love finding the Easter eggs. I loved that Charles Daniel Jacobs is 19 letters long. I really enjoyed the electricity obsession that Charlie was so keen on proving. I loved what he wanted to do. I could see the madness in his eyes. (Aside: I totally picture Gus from Breaking Bad as Charles Jacobs in this. End of Aside). I found myself gripping my kindle waiting to see what was on the other side, what would happen when that bolt of lightning struck that pole. I was just as excited as Charlie, if not more so.

I see a lot of people upset with what was on that other side. I, for one, wanted to damn the King to an eternity in Todash. It’s true. But not for the same reasons as other people. I know a lot of people are upset over the but that didn’t bother me. After reading the Dark Tower I think I was prepared for something like this. The first line that came to mind was the one about our whole universe existing in a single blade of grass. The concept that size defeats all and that our minds are not capable of processing it. I wanted to damn Stephen King because the thought of death creates this paralyzing fear in me (a fear I don’t talk about often) and the picture he painted was not a promising one. All jokes aside, I texted my friend Jason and told him “I never even thought of that as an afterlife possibility”. And what I mean is that I am already terrified and King just sent me over the edge.

Overall this book left me wanting more and wanting to see a shrink. There were aspects of it that I loved so deeply that I could almost literally feel my heart making room for them. Then there were parts that made me think “Is this really Stephen King writing this?!” So, I have rated this book 3 stars with a confused heart. I think I will revisit this one sooner than usual and reevaluate. I just can’t feel firm in my decision on rating this book at all.
Profile Image for ❤Ninja Bunneh❤.
263 reviews173 followers
November 12, 2014

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who thinks Uncle Stevie has lost some of his edge over the last few years shall now eat his/her words. Me being one of them. Now I know you're saying to yourself - what the fuck, Andrea? You love Stephen King! You've been reading him for three decades practically! How dare you say such things! Have you lost your damn mind?

And I do. I adore King. He's the only author that I have followed religiously since pre-teendom. The only author that although some books don't resonate with me, I still know that the next one will be better. I just know it. But, I have missed the old school King over the years. The raw, disturbing, gut wrenching, on the edge of your seat horror that was delved out in King's darker days.

Revival is old-school horror master King. I couldn't put it down. I wanted to throw an Uncle Stevie party and bake a cake in his likeness to celebrate. Although, saner minds prevailed and nixed that plan in the ass.

This is horror. The slow built up horror that clutches your brain in its claws and doesn't let you escape. The horror that when it ends, you're just left with this gut emptiness. On the edge of the emptiness sits a little bird who whispers Holy balls, can that be real?

It's that same little bird who whispered to you when you were a kid that there's a monster hiding under your bed. The one that warned you about the basement and the closet. The one that told you clowns are not always good or funny and may have big teeth that want to eat you. The little bird that kind of faded away as you got older because you now had to take care of grown up responsibilities and stop being frightened of childish creepy things.

You grow and laugh at your childhood fears. Yet, you still always put the light on when you go into the basement or open the closet door. You still hesitate to put your foot on the floor when you need to get up in the middle of the night. You still have a subconscious aversion to clowns with their white painted on faces and fluffy orange hair.

You grow up and know that everything that little bird told you isn't real. I mean, it can't be. Right?

This book may remind you otherwise.

Welcome back, Mr. King. I've missed you.

5 Ninja Bunnehs Wearing Gold Rings
Profile Image for Eliza.
594 reviews1,375 followers
August 1, 2018
My review for this was somehow deleted -- so, yay for me! Regardless, this book wasn't amazing -- I still remember having to force myself to read it. So, I am tempted to lower the rating, because 3 stars seems pretty high. But, I won't.

I swear, the only reason I gave this 3 stars was because the guy I liked (years ago) had enjoyed this and I was determined to like it, too -- so we could have something to talk about. It's funny how a crush can make you like a book more than you actually would've.
May 28, 2019
That’s how you know you’re home, I think, no matter how far you’ve gone from it or how long you’ve been in some other place. Home is where they want you to stay longer.

I don't know how this Stephen King book escaped my radar back in 2014: I am the biggest King fan and I usually read everything he publishes. Unfortunately, I haven't been very lucky with the most recent books. This one, however, made me feel those good ol' King vibes all over again and oh am I glad I read it!

For starters, the book follows the life of the protagonist from his childhood to his adolescence to his last years; this is something I especially love in King's books because I think he excels in describing the evolution of a character during the years, creating a fully developed human being, absolutely interesting and unique, and totally realistic. This is not easy to do and, in my opinion, not many writers are good at it. I am especially in love with the way King describes adolescence and late teens: school, the first cigarette, the first sexual experiences, the passion... King never fails to make me emotional with the air of nostalgia and longing he communicates when describing high school years.

The plot of this novel is not exactly unpredictable, and many clues throughout the book hint us to where the climax is headed, but the way King makes you wander all the time exactly what is going to happen, and when, manage to keep the suspense high through the book even though, as often in King's books, the story unfolds very slowly.

I loved this book as a novel, but this is a horror book and I should also review it as such. Unfortunately, the kind of horror this novel portrays, even though I appreciated its gothic and lovecraftian nature, isn't exactly substance of nightmares for me. Being scared is a very personal thing, and I think I just don't share this kind of fears. As I said though, I got very strong lovecraftian vibes (the creatures, the descriptions, but in particular the reference to an otherworldly colour) and - Lovecraft being one of my favourite authors of all time - this made me love the book even more. It just didn't exactly scare me, that's all. Overall, this is one of the best Stephen King book I read in a long time!

Profile Image for Jonathan Janz.
Author 45 books1,710 followers
January 4, 2018
In his best short fiction, Edgar Allan Poe achieved a "unity of effect." In tales like "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "Masque of the Red Death," the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Each word, each turn of phrase flows toward a swirling vortex, a glowing, pulsing spire that pierces the steely thunderheads and rivets your gaze even as it threatens to lay waste to everything around it.

More on that later.

This unity of effect is difficult enough to create in a short piece of fiction. Thomas Ligotti did it in "The Frolic," Richard Matheson in "Born of Man and Woman."

The number of novels that have accomplished a unity of effect is even smaller. Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is one; Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD is another. After finishing REVIVAL last night, I'm ready to add another title to this sparse but jaw-dropping tradition.

I wouldn't call REVIVAL my favorite Stephen King novel. In fact, it'd probably land somewhere in the six-to-ten range (after classics like 'SALEM'S LOT, THE STAND, and others). However, REVIVAL is better *written* than the aforementioned titles (with the caveat that no one but King could have written the others; when we’re talking about the master, we’re splitting hairs among some of the best pieces of horror fiction ever created; it’s like the difference between Da Vinci’s Last Supper and his Mona Lisa—they’re both extraordinary).

But what blows my mind about REVIVAL is how “grooved” it is. Even though the narrative spans, what? Half a century? The feel of the book is one of fated inevitability. Even though what happens in the tale stems from the characters’ choices, the story feels like it couldn’t have gone any other way. Which brings me to the other facet of the book that still, nearly a day later, has my mind racing.

A friend told me he felt as though King “really took the gloves off” for the novel’s climax, and that’s a great way to put it. I guess the story could have ended some other way, but it wouldn’t have captured the full breadth of the novel’s potential had King not followed the characters’ trajectories so faithfully.

And herein lies an intersection between King’s theory about stories and Poe’s unity of effect. King believes that writers are archeologists, discovering tales like buried artifacts and exhuming them as faithfully and meticulously as possible. I imagine it’s how Poe must have felt when writing “The Black Cat.” Poe was able to exhume that twisted narrative from the depths of his imagination, and in doing so, he fully captured the story’s magnificence. Reading “The Black Cat” is like climbing into a coal cart and being thrust by a lunatic subterranean dweller down a rusty, perilous set of rails, and even if you survive the careening journey in body, by ride's end you've sacrificed a bit of your sanity.

That’s how I felt reading REVIVAL.

There’s one last thing I want to mention, and then I’ll give way to the master so you can experience this splendid, ghastly novel for yourself. It has to do with the awe-inspiring and dreadful hellscape I alluded to in the beginning of this review.

By King’s own admission, this tale and several of his others (especially the glorious fever dream known as “N.”) owe a debt to Arthur Machen’s seminal story “The Great God Pan.” Machen’s story is one of the finest yarns ever written, and it continues to cast its spell on legions of modern readers and writers (Yours Truly included). But while Machen only intimates what lies beyond the veil, King tears the fabric wide open and allows the shrieking horror of what lurks there to scorch our retinas and destroy our minds.

In other words, King *goes there,* and he drags us with him whether we're ready or not.

Unity of effect. Narrative boldness. An indelible, poetic evocation of a place previously unimaginable. You’ll find all of these things and more in REVIVAL.

Your mileage may vary, but for me, the master has never been better.
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