STARRED REVIEW
November 2014

A sinister pact

By Stephen King
Stephen King is really good at acknowledging the human grief that underlies so much horror, and how that grief can twist a person into something monstrous—Pet Sematary, anyone? This is one of the themes of his new hair-raiser, Revival.
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Stephen King is really good at acknowledging the human grief that underlies so much horror, and how that grief can twist a person into something monstrous—Pet Sematary, anyone? This is one of the themes of his new hair-raiser, Revival.

King brings the dread early. The novel begins with the shadow of a man falling over a little boy playing with his toy soldiers in 1962. The little boy is Jamie Morton; the man is the new preacher in his town, Charles Jacobs. The way King describes the meeting makes you want to stop reading right there because you know something ghastly is going to happen.

The only thing is, it doesn’t.

The new reverend is very young, but he’s a delightful man who befriends Jamie and his perfectly normal, loving family. He has a beautiful wife and an adorable little boy. He’s a bit obsessed with electricity, but hey, everyone has a hobby.

Then, something horrifying does happen. It’s in no way supernatural and no, it doesn’t involve the good reverend interfering with little Jamie. But it is horrific, unforeseen and nobody’s fault. The repercussions will affect thousands of people and persist for decades—at the end Jamie is middle-aged and Jacobs is elderly and ailing.

Between the tragedy and where it leads, life stumbles on with its big and little crises. The reader may wonder at some points if this is a novel where a character has to cope with gruesome but ordinary misfortune, à la Dolores Claiborne. But no, underneath it all, behind it all, nothing is remotely ordinary.

Don’t do what this reviewer did and read the last pages of Revival in the middle of the night in a house way out in the woods. Once again, King proves that he’s not a squillionaire best-selling horror author for nothing.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Revival

Revival

By Stephen King
Scribner
ISBN 9781476770383

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