Revival by Stephen King

Retro Review

Revival by Stephen King,  Narrated by David Morse
Horror Audio, 13 hours +
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 thirteen, 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-thirties -- 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.

This book is not read by Will Patton but I will not hold that against it. Will Patton should read ALL the books but no one asked me. Revival is read by David Morse, recently seen in Joe Hill’s film version of Horns (which you all should see), and he does a fine job with the material. His voice is slightly grizzled and comforting and very emotive. He managed to keep me listening throughout the 13+ hour story. If you enjoy King and audiobooks you’ll want to give this a listen.

So, it’s not really horror and it’s not really spooky or scary until the very end when it gives you a punch to the gut but trust me the trip is one worth taking. This is the not-so-usual (this is King, after all) coming of age story of a young boy named Jamie whose life becomes entwined with a young pastor and mad scientist type named Charlie Jacobs. At first, I have to admit, I was thinking Charlie might fall into the pervy for kiddies mold what with his cozying up to Jamie straight away, but I was glad things didn’t go there and their friendship (at least early on) was genuine. As were all of the relationships in this book which is why I enjoyed it so much. This man knows how to create characters and set a scene.

When King is busy telling tales of first love and delighting in “sweater nubbins” (ohhhh, King), tightly knit families, friendship, hope and the joy and rush of music there’s always a dark undercurrent running alongside the mundane. Grief, drug addiction, regret, aging and loss of faith. It’s all here and it will probably crush you. You won't want to give this a listen if you have to do the driving. I think King revels in leaving his readers broken and bleary eyed.

Even so, I’ll put myself back together and read whatever he chooses to dish up next because this was a beautifully done novel.

I received this book courtesy of AudioJukebox.


  1. I read this when it was first released. I really enjoyed it but then again, I love most King. I'm trying to picture David Morse....Ok, just checked, he is who I was thinking. I really like the actor who played the brother in Horns and initially thought it might be him. Now he would be fun to listen to. Glad you liked this one.

    1. Maybe we'll get lucky and the brother will narrate a future Hill book!

  2. I loved a lot of Stephen King's early stuff. I like David Morse as an actor and he has a voice probably suited to audio books. I can't imagine how boring a book would be if the narrator was rubbish!

    1. Oh yeah, a terrible narrator can ruin the best of stories.


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