Revival by Stephen King


By all the laws of averages, he should be slowing down, shouldn’t he? He could phone in tie ins and even lamely pursue trends but fucking hell, King is still throwing knock out punches.

Revival tells of the relationship between Jamie Norton and Charles Jacobs who first meet when Norton is six and Jacobs a young, earnest preacher. What happens next, by degrees, becomes a cyclical journey that teases hope and goodness before it rips them away screaming. Along the way, King tells a story rich with feeling and intensity. It’s moments of brevity and compassion are set up, so that when the story takes a turn into the darkness, it’s teeth bite deeper.  There’s a delicious invention, a turn towards the writers who influenced him from a formative age yet given the consideration of how best to source everything in humanity and emotion.  It’s beautiful and tender as well as grimly horrifying, much like that Tinder date you went on last night.

King understands that the journey is as important as the destination and although there is criticism of how he often fudges the landings in his books, when he gets it right, and here he does, you’re left aghast. The maxim that no good deed goes unpunished is ruthlessly applied here and I finished this book with my nerves jangling, moved by how he strips the narrator, and in turn this reader of comfort and illusion. There are bold ideas expressed here, and done with care and attention. He misses out nothing and no one so that by the final sentence, you’re relieved that it is over and also horrified by what he posits. It bears a similarity to Duma Key in it’s final act, and certainly he’s always been great at bringing the cosmic horrors of Lovecraft into the modern age, their mysteries better left unmasked because what he suggests is almost nihilistic and cruel as it is.

I’ve been reading King since I was ten years old, when an overly liberal librarian let me walk out of there with Night Shift under my arm, and still he has me regressed to open mouthed awe. Even his worst work is interesting, and worth reading but when he’s firing on all cylinders, and here he is, he is a lightning storm of words and emotion. It’s a hipster-ish notion to dismiss what is popular, but Stephen King is popular for a reason, and when there are kitten videos and reality television to compete against(easier digested media, but I’m being flippant) a book has to stand out to keep your attention.

Read this book. It’s discomforting, riveting storytelling and worth your time and attention.



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