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Publisher's Summary

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 13, 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-30s - 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.

©2014 Stephen King (P)2014 Simon & Schuster Audio

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  • Marci
  • portland, OR, United States
  • 11-12-14

Sinister and Classic King

I really enjoyed this book, but I had to alter my expectations away from "horror." I was bracing for a scary story based on the description and some of the early reviews. I was picturing IT, The Shining, etc. It's classic Stephen King, but it's more in the line of the Green Mile, or 11.22.63 style.
The story is great. I became interested and totally invested almost right away. King is a master story teller which is why I can enjoy his books no matter which way they go. The character development of the main character Jamie was deep, extensive, and very interesting. I liked him and even more, liked his relationships and interactions with all the other characters. That's what drives this story is the people. I was interested in what happened to them without wavering, and was interested right up until the end.
Pastor Jacobs is a great antagonist. He is a great vehicle for the creepiness. He has the hubris, and the lack of humanity that kept me on the edge of my seat. He remained unpredictable which helped create a great pace to the story and kept me guessing.
Why only 4 stars? I love the book, but it could have had more. It could have been creepier, Jacobs could have been a little more evil, or there could have been a side-kick to Jacobs that could have been really evil that would have created a little more action.
The ending was good. It was worthy of the rest of the story and worthy of the characters. I enjoyed the ending.
I loved Morse as the narrator. I've already looked at other books he narrates for, I like him enough to seek him out. While I was listening, I took note that Morse's voice for Jacobs was perfect. He made him sound overly patient, a little patronizing, and a little edgy, he really brought Jacobs to life for me.
I would recommend this book.

92 of 112 people found this review helpful

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One Listener's *Meh* is Another's Listener's *Wow*

I find myself in the latter group, because this is how I like my's familiar, smart and layered, the product of a storytelling virtuoso. It reads tight, flows enjoyably without a bump, and whether you are actively searching for the infamous King-style Easter Eggs or just perched on the edge of your seat waiting for the inevitable terror ala King to hit, it is captivating. I for one, liked the slow steady crank -- I know King is like a sinister jack-in-the-box with a cozy style that lulls you into near-complacency...then POW! it sinks its teeth into you. But, I understand well why some listeners/readers found the story "slow" or did not like the ending.

Though this is one of King's shorter novels, it takes its time building those goose bumps. The eerie opening scene is a foreshadowing of the relationship between Preacher Charlie Jacobs and Jamie Morton. Jamie's once idyllic life stumbles into disillusion, sex, drugs, and rock & roll. The Preacher suffers a devastating loss, gives a damning sermon which ends his career in the Methodist ministry, then undergoes a malevolent transformation. Their paths serpentine through the years, with each meeting the pair seem to have added layers of corruption and ugliness -- the kind of disfiguration of the soul the supernatural portrait of young Dorian Gray collected hidden in his secret room. In a sense Jamie sold his soul to the devilish preacher at one point in his life, and there is a contractual bond between the two. King doesn't elaborate on the many incarnations of ex-preacher Jacobs (from minister to carnie to tent revivalist), the bulk of the book is devoted to Jamie and his life of guitars and rock and roll until the electrically charged ending (literally: homage to Frankenstein, and a healthy aside to King's passion for rock and roll). Though you may think this makes for a "slow" read, or a loosening of the plot, I felt the story remained tight and threatening, with a lurking sense of tension always building. I participated by keeping mental track of Jacobs, creating his evolution myself from the crumbs King throws in periodically.

Central to the overall nightmarish feel of this book is the *Dedication* by King, which if you have the book you will know reads as follows:
"This book is for some of the people who built my house: Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Donald Wandrei, Fritz Leiber, August Derleth, Shirley Jackson, Robert Bloch, Peter Straub, And ATHUR MACHEN, whose short novel The great God Pan has haunted me all my life."
A rich flavor pallet for fans of horror and a recipe for certain nightmares. The book will strike a strong Yagsafarian, or Cthulhu Mythos flavor, with a vigorous nod to Lovecraft by the time you finish, but it is the work of the all capped MACHEN that King echoes most in this novel, specifically The Great God Pan. [*you can download this short story free of charge at Gutenberg Project site.] What is it with King and bugs...ants? The answer may lie with his youthful years spent reading the likes of these horror heavyweights, definitely Lovecraft and Machen--'nuf said lest I spoil the last page.

To me this was a *thinker,* a foundation-shaker that had me examining these characters, science, religion, loss and extreme sorrow, and at what point our personal constructs shake and finally crumble. I won't say it is old-form-King. I think he has given readers different facets of his creative mind over the years that highlight his own growing pains and artistic expression (whether readers liked it or not), but I will say it felt like kicking off a pair of 5" heels and throwing on your favorite comfy slippers. It is less about the horror of antique collecting vampires on your block, sinister clowns hiding in the drainage systems, and more about the kind of terror we might feel faced with the death of our scientific *facts,* the disintegration of our *faith.* It's like going down the stairs in the dark, thinking you feel that secure bottom stair under your foot, but stepping into an abyss. Not my very fave King, but one of them; a good entry, and the best in a while.

And, a Post Script of sorts to fellow readers that ponder, dwell, dissect, perseverate...What direction does this story go for you if the Shelley-infused Jacob's first *patient* was actually his wife and little boy (hello Pet Semetary)???

44 of 54 people found this review helpful

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Not fit for a King

In my opinion, Stephen King has set the standard of excellence relative to authoring books in the horror genre. It pains me to report that “Revival” falls short of this very high standard. The plot of “Revival” serves as a vehicle for Mr. King to spout off about drug addiction, aging, the existence of God, and guitar playing. All of these items are interesting to read about, but seem jammed into a non-compelling story. Also, the antagonist of “Revival” is not all that evil. The worst you may say is he practices medicine without a license and seems selfish sharing his discoveries. Another issue it is not until the half-way point when “Revival” finds its sea legs and rhythm.

“Revival” does have moments of pure delight (I affectionately refer to these as Kingnezian moments), such as listening to the “terrible sermon” in Chapter 3. I was also touched my Mr. King’s descriptions of first love and family reunions. For most authors,” Revival” would represent a triumph of writing and storytelling. However, we expect much more from Mr. King.

81 of 101 people found this review helpful

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Is That All There Is?

I was looking forward to a suspenseful, even terrifying story from Mr. King, especially after reading the publisher summary with grabbers such as - - -"a dark shadow fell over him" and "he had demons of his own" - - -etc., etc.

However, I recently broke my ankle and am a prisoner to my bed right now--so one of my only pleasures is to listen to my audiobooks. It is a good story, and I kept waiting for something to happen (which the main character promises us time and again) --but there is nothing, and I mean nothing suspenseful.

A horrible family tragedy occurred which was really sad, and family problems abound over the years--but again, nothing to make me grab the covers and pull them over my head or at least turn the lights on! The last 1 1/2 hours it finally got interesting, but the ending was not at all what the build up led me to believe. In fact, kind of fell flat.

I know King writes stories of immensely tragic and human events without the terror or monsters, etc. Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, etc. He is a genius. However, please do not summarize a book to make it something it isn't (I'm talking to editors or publishers and anyone else responsible for the summaries we rely on in choosing books)

Listened to or read over 90 of King's works--and this is the very first to disappoint.

48 of 62 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew
  • SEATTLE, WA, United States
  • 11-19-14

Be careful next time you go to the country fair!

If you could sum up Revival in three words, what would they be?


Would you be willing to try another book from Stephen King? Why or why not?

Of course. He is often a brilliant creative mind, and continues to produce wildly varying material at a prolific rate. His 11-22-63 novel continues to be one of my all time favourite audio books.

Have you listened to any of David Morse’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Several, and he continues to impress. In contrast to several other reviewers of this book ( whom I respect BTW ) I think this is an outstanding effort by Morse. His laconic approach does capture the tone, and the spirit, of this first person story , accurately and completely.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Something Happened.

Any additional comments?

Again, I vary from what appears to be the majority opinion on this offering, and endorse this book completely. Rich, with a broad, and yet highly detailed palate, King does indeed offer his/Jamie ( one and the same person? ) thoughts on childhood, family, church, carnival life, rock and roll, teenage growing up, aging, and many more.
The "horror" aspect if more to be found in the lack of it's explicitness, until the last quarter or so. Indeed, it does get messy, and graphic, at the end, so fans of such things are fufilled.

David Morse owns the characters, bringing them to life in an odd, yet honest manner.

Highly recommended, with the caveat that I am not a massive King fan, and as such do not have the background to compare this to other works. As a standalone, it shines.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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One of his best.....

What did you love best about Revival?

for all those critics who did not enjoy this book, and would have preferred a penny dreadful horror story, then the mature Stephen King is not for you, he is for people who enjoy the layering of stories and themes and good writing and character creation. He is one of the best story tellers ever, weaving a tale you would be happy for to go on forever.Being of a similar age to King, I thoroughly enjoyed the authenticity of the eras written about in the book.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

The writing and the storytelling itself kept me 'turning pages' well into the early hours of the morning. What sheer enjoyment this book provided me.

What does David Morse bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

David Morse was great; an excellent story-teller - nothing over the top here - just perfect for this book. He has an everyday voice, but with a tone and inflection that captured every nuance in the story beautifully.

If you could rename Revival, what would you call it?


Any additional comments?

If your a mature follower of King and enjoy his storytelling more than the plot itself, then this book is definitely for you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Stephen King: "every cure has its price."

What begins as a pastoral relationship between a young Methodist minister and a talented six-year-old boy slowly devolves into a nightmare.

The horror develops slowly as what appears to be a gift for healing and a fascination with electric gadgets leads to one of the darkest visions of life after death in literary history. Few authors have imagined that land of the dead in the graphic and ghastly detail King gives his readers in this book.

Ye of little faith might do well to skip this novel as a faint hope in Heaven may be shattered. Non-believers who expect life to end like a hard drive crash may finish this book hoping they are right. Nothingness would be preferable to the vision of the afterlife in Revival.

More than a horror story, this is a novel of irony. The title itself it ironic. A Sunday sermon and an encounter with an electric Jesus figure causes a young boy to lose all faith. Miracle cures have the Devil's own side effects. In the end, the lone survivor lives by the grace of anti-depressant drugs.

Revival is an old man's tale, told by the innocent six-year-old boy, who through an odd combination of good and bad luck has survived to be 60. Like the author, who is 67, the narrator has lived through too many catastrophes to have much faith in anything beyond the mundane helpfulness that makes day-to-day living bearable.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Nothing terrifying here....

I do love Stephen King's stories, however, this one, not so much. Maybe I've become more difficult to terrify over the years, but there's nothing that I found even remotely scary in this tale. Narration was great, characters were good, story was interesting. That was pretty much it for me. Sorry :(

32 of 44 people found this review helpful

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Did not care for narrator

The story also was not as riveting as is usual. It was a fair read but found the narrators voice drew my interest away from the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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not the best, not the worst

Good performance by Morse. I can't say I was totally engaged by the story. It kind of drifts along and finally ends.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful