Stephen King brings a taste of weird horror and supernatural mystery in Revival, published by Scribner, copyright 2014.
Jamie Morton is arranging his toy soldiers on a hill he had constructed when a shadow crosses his battleground then stops over him. Jamie is a young boy in 1962 and is curious about this new preacher who is offering advice on troop placement and attack strategies. The new minister and his wife and son quickly became quite popular in the community and the six-year-old Jamie looked up to the minister for guidance.
One afternoon the preacher, Pastor Charles “Jabs” Jacobs, invited Jamie to his garage to see something he knew would interest the boy. To Jamie’s astonishment, Pastor Jacobs had assembled a miniature town he had named Peaceable Lake on a plywood and sawhorse table; complete with running water for a lake and stream and electric lights to illuminate the roadways and buildings. This mini town, Jamie was told, would be used as a teaching tool during Bible Studies. This was not the only undertaking Pastor Jabs would use electricity for. He later applied two electric wands to Jamie’s brother’s throat when he lost his voice through a traumatizing experience thus bringing his voice back. Many people considered this to be some sort of miracle. Beyond all this Pastor Jacobs was always working on what he called the ‘secret electricity’. He wasn’t just fixing toasters and preaching the gospel anymore.
In October of 1965, Pastor Jacob’s wife, Patricia, and his son, Morrie, were headed for the grocery store in the next town when, while rounding a blind curve, they collided with a farmer’s pick-up truck hauling a large farm implement. Patricia and the child were both dead by the time the ambulance arrived. Pastor Jacobs was devastated and could hardly function in the position of responsibility that his office required.
Despite the objections of the bishop of the parish, Jacobs insists on delivering what would come to be known as “the terrible sermon”. This sermon begins reasonably enough with the odd quotes from the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians and heartfelt thank you’s to all that had helped and comforted the minister in his time of need and mourning. Just as sudden as his family’s death, “the terrible sermon” turned to talk of senseless death and blasphemous assertions which caused the congregation to, one by one, walk out of the church. The bishop replaced Jacobs and asked him to leave the parish.
Jamie enters young adult life and next you find him in a rock and roll band called the Chrome Roses where he meets Astrid, a girl which he learns about sex and romance with. Jamie’s band fires him after tolerating his drug use for some time. This results in Jamie using heroin regularly and leaves him wandering the streets. On one of these wanderings he happens upon a carnival and lo and behold, Pastor Jacobs has an electrical photo booth there and offers to care for him and cure his addiction with ‘secret electricity’. In return for this “miracle of the secret electricity” Jamie agrees to assist Charles Jacobs with his carnival show and travels with him.
Stephen King raises some prickly theological arguments and displays his masterful ability to show how events can affect people and their judgement. As always, King does a masterful job of endearing you to the somewhat abnormal people who are players in this surprising adventure. Pastor Charlie Jacobs keeps popping up in Jamie’s life and continually brings thrilling progression to the story as events change from fascinating, to unusual, to bizarre.
I enjoyed this suspense filled novel and hope you will also as King brilliantly displays his incredible skills as a suspense author.
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