“In one way, at least, our lives are like movies. The main cast consists of your family and friends. The supporting cast is made up of neighbors, co-workers, teachers, and daily acquaintances. There are also bit players: the supermarket checkout girl with the pretty smile, the friendly bartender at the local watering hole, the guys you work out with at the gym three days a week. And there are the thousands of extras — those people who flow through every life like water through a sieve, seen once and never again. The teenager browsing graphic novels at the bookstore, the one you had to slip past (murmuring ‘Excuse me’) in order to get to the magazines. The woman in the next lane at a stoplight, taking a moment to freshen her lipstick. The vendor who sold you a bag of peanuts at a baseball game. But sometimes a person who fits none of these categories comes into your life. This is 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.”
Thus begins Stephen King’s latest novel. For Jamie Morton, his fifth business, or nemesis as it were, is the Reverend Charles Daniel Jacobs. He first meets the charismatic preacher when he is six years old and the two form an instant bond. Over the next three years the Reverend, his wife, and young son become fixtures in the small community of Harlow, Maine. Then one fateful day the unimaginable occurs. An unspeakable tragedy that will not only cause Reverend Jacobs to lose his faith, but also will send him and Jamie on a collision course which concludes with a horrific act beyond imagination. Some doors are better left unopened.
I finished Revival last night around 7:00 pm and was left so stunned I couldn’t put a string of coherent words together in order to review it. First, let me warn you not to finish this within a couple of hours of when you’re going to bed. You will either not be able to sleep, or you’ll have some truly nasty nightmares. That said, the majority of this book does not really fall under the genre of horror. Indeed, it’s pure Americana, from 1950s small town Maine, to the carnival circuit in the Midwest, to finally landing back in present day Maine where the true horror takes place in the last thirty something pages. The way Jamie’s and Jacobs’ lives develop over five decades, for better or for worse, is vintage King, which is why I loved this book so much. Both men are shaped by the tragedies in their lives and not for the better. Jacobs sets out on an obsessive and destructive path which winds up effecting so many lives, while Jamie is only set on destroying his own, yet once the two meet again when Jamie is an adult the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Jamie is a wonderful, albeit flawed hero whose life is defined by his experiences. You cannot help but sympathize with him even when he’s making the worst decisions. I also wondered if King put a little of himself in Jamie with his addictions and love of classic rock. Reverend Jacobs who begins as a sympathetic character ultimately lets his experiences shape him into a true monster. As this story unfolds you also are introduced to the main cast and the supporting cast who are almost as fascinating as Jamie and Jacobs. Without either the events that play out would never come to fruition. The actual “horror” at the end of the book is a decided homage to two classic writers of that genre, and it’s brilliantly done. When King is at his best, his stories are tapestries where all of the threads are interwoven, finally coming together in one spectacular picture, and this is what he has created with Revival. I’ve tried not to put any real spoilers in this review because if you’re going to read this book I honestly think you should do so with no preconceived notions. Hopefully I’ve succeeded in giving you a tantalizing peek instead.
You must be logged in to post a comment.