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. – Jamie Morton, Revival
And so begins Stephen King’s newest novel, Revival. Jamie Morton, the narrator of this horror story (because that’s exactly what it is), prepares readers for the truly scary things that eventually happen. But not before giving us some background on his life and relationship with the town reverend, who plays a most significant part.
We first meet Jamie as a young boy of six. He lives in a small town in Maine with his parents, his brothers Conrad, Terry and Andy and his beloved sister, Claire. Jamie, who’s outside playing with his army men, a present from his sister, is the first of the Morton family to meet the new reverend, Charles Jacobs. Reverend Jacobs is young, handsome and loves God and his family. He and Jamie click instantly, creating a special bond between the two. The Reverend, along with his pretty wife Patsy and their young son, Morrie, brings a “spark” to the congregation, bumping up attendance numbers and getting the kids excited about the Lord. One of the Rev’s methods for keeping the kids excited is his use of electricity in his lectures. You see, Reverend Jacobs LOVES electricity and his fascination with it turns into a full-blown obsession when tragedy strikes. His grief and anger cause him to turn away from God and his faith, leaving the small town, and Jamie, behind.
But oh, that’s not all folks. Come on, this is Stephen King we’re talking about here! You know things get hairy for the Reverend and Jamie in ways that bring them back together again. Jamie, now a guitarist with a pretty bad heroin addiction and reeling from a great loss himself, meets up with the Reverend purely by accident. Only this time, the Reverend’s love of all things electric has been turned up a few notches. Jacobs, who now goes by the name Dan, is a changed man. He speaks of a “secret electricity,” something he desperately needs Jamie for in order to access it. What happens after that is pure King genius.
While reading Revival, I kept thinking to myself, “this isn’t a horror story.” Until I came to the very end and quickly changed my mind. King did a marvelous job of building up the tension for what is a terrifying ending, and if you’re a punk like me, you will be sleeping with the lights on right afterwards. I definitely enjoyed the back story about the relationship between Reverend Jacobs and Jamie. It starts off so pleasant and downright innocent, but Life has a way of screwing it all up to remind us all that we are not in control. Jamie is a straightforward kind of guy, even as a kid, and moves through life with the surety that shit happens, whether good or bad. He is drawn to Reverend Jacobs, even when he’s old enough to know that he should steer clear of him. Jamie is afraid of the Rev, but he’s also curious about the “secret electricity.” What is it? What does it do? And why is Jamie so important?
King also makes good use of the details, especially when he gets to the frightening stuff. If you have a vivid imagination like I do, then you won’t have a problem visualizing the events that take place. I especially loved reading about Jamie’s first love, Astrid, and their relationship. There’s nothing quite like finally getting the one you’ve always wanted and realizing that person is just as amazing as you thought they would be. I found myself smiling more than once at their relationship, which for me is a very good thing. But King’s details also scared me and made my stomach hurt, because as I moved closer and closer to the end, I knew things were going to go south in a hurry. King’s description of the horrors that finally happen made me pray that I never see anything like that myself. If I do, I believe I would go mad.
Revival will be one of King’s books that I read over and over again because I enjoyed it very much, even though it eventually freaked me out. But that’s why we love Uncle Stevie. He makes us feel quite comfortable before slapping us silly to wake us up and remember that comfort is an illusion. I highly recommend Revival.