The genius of Stephen King is his ability to write in such a way that you feel as if he is talking to you across the dining room table. This time he seems to be talking directly to men of a certain age, somewhere between fifty and sixty, who share memories of the same TV Shows and the same popular music, among countless other things. I listened to the audiobook read by David Morse and he does a great job of reading the story of a man from Maine who loses his faith as a boy.
We follow our hero from the time he is a small boy and meets a strange man while he’s in the front yard playing with his toy soldiers. The man is a preacher who dabbles with electricity on the side. After a horrible accident, the Rev leaves the Church and spends all his time studying a magical form of electricity he calls Secret Electricity.
King quotes H. P. Lovecraft several times, but I really got more of a Philip K Dick feel from this story. Dick was the master of keeping his characters on the edge of danger and constantly worried about what was going to happen next. There was a lot of tension in Revival as The Rev and our hero Jamie keep crossing paths over the course of fifty years or so. The fantastic elements are often a bit odd in what is basically a story about growing older and feeling out of touch with the world. Revival would have been good as a straight novel without any supernatural elements at all.
Just as I loved 11/22/63, but was just confused by the ending, much the same thing happens here. The story is a pretty straightforward narrative from youth to middle age with small side trips into weirdland. The bulk of the weird business has to do with The Rev healing people, our hero Jamie among them. But many of them suffer from strange after effects that leave them worse off than they were to start with. The book ends with everyone healed by The Rev having some very serious after effects. Everyone except Jamie. There are thousands who were healed by the secret electricity and we can assume that all of them suffered similar unpleasant fates.
I liked Revival a lot, but the ending was pretty out there, even for Stephen King.