Revival by Stephen King
A Novel

77%

52 Critic Reviews

Reading “Revival” is experiencing a master storyteller having the time of his life. All of his favorite fictional elements are at play — small-town Maine, the supernatural, the evil genius, the obsessive addict, the power of belief to transform a life.
-NY Times

Synopsis

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.
 

About Stephen King

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Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. Joe Hill is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Heart-Shaped Box and Horns and writes an ongoing comic book series, Locke & Key. He makes lots of noise on Twitter under the handle @joe_hill.
 
Published November 11, 2014 by Scribner. 385 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Horror, Literature & Fiction, Self Help. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon1
Peak Rank on Nov 30 2014
icon7
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Revival
All: 52 | Positive: 44 | Negative: 8

Kirkus

Good
on Oct 02 2014

Faith healing run amok: It’s a theme that’s exercised King since Carrie, and though this latest is less outright scary and more talky than that early touchstone, it compares well. No one does psychological terror better than King. Another spine-tingling pleasure for his fans.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Sep 15 2014

King (Mr. Mercedes) is a master at invoking the supernatural through the powerful emotions of his characters, and his depiction of Jacobs as a man unhinged by grief but driven by insatiable scientific curiosity is as believable as it is frightening. The novel’s ending—one of King’s best—stuns like lightning.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Danielle Trussoni on Nov 21 2014

Reading “Revival” is experiencing a master storyteller having the time of his life. All of his favorite fictional elements are at play — small-town Maine, the supernatural, the evil genius, the obsessive addict, the power of belief to transform a life.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Nov 13 2014

Older and wiser each time he writes, Mr. King has moved on from the physical fear that haunted him after he was struck by a van while out walking to a more metaphysical, universal terror. He writes about things so inevitable that he speaks to us all.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Ben East on Nov 16 2014

as the faintly hippyish protagonist remains pleasingly cynical about Jacobs’s methods and concerned about their side effects, Revival turns into something of a mystery when he teams up with a young researcher...to unearth the truth about the elusive man now called Pastor Danny Jacobs.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Alison Flood on Nov 07 2014

Don’t let King trick you. Revival may be light on horrific detail, but the glimpse its author gives of the darkness behind the veil is black indeed.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Brian Bandell on Nov 21 2014

Revival is written at the pace of a slow burn. This isn’t a thriller where the character is constantly in danger and monsters might lurk around every corner. It builds to a crowning scene; and yes, there’s a lightning strike and a version of “It’s alive!” In that scene King unleashes the darkest corner of his imagination—and it’s jarring.

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Carole E Barrowman on Nov 08 2014

Stephen King’s latest novel, “Revival,” is a slow burn. I was 90 pages in before I felt even a spark of scary, and then only smoldering heat until the last 90 pages, when the book ignites in horror...The novel’s ending is dark, disquieting and pretty horrifying...searching for answers to life’s age-old questions about life and death.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by R.J. Huneke on Dec 06 2014

King is truly at his best in terms of prose, where the effect of each paragraph carries with it a weight and a beautiful take on language.

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Examiner

Above average
Reviewed by David Finniss on Dec 01 2014

If you want more persistent thrills and chills, this might not be the book for you. I, for one, enjoyed it quite a bit. It had strong characters and a clear journey for both Jamie and Charlie. If you're willing to wait for the payoff, I think that you'll find it worth it.

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Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by Rob Merrill on Nov 11 2014

King fans won’t find anything to complain about here. At just over 400 pages it’s one of his quicker reads and any hint of the supernatural is blended with tender moments that ground the characters.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on Nov 13 2014

While it takes King a while to set up the board, the second half of the story, particularly the last hundred pages, will stick with you long after you read the final paragraph. Those of a certain age (Jamie’s and above) will find King’s take on what lies on the near horizon especially unsettling and disturbing.

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by David L. Ulin on Dec 11 2014

This is the vivid novel concealed by the lackluster one, the story of what happens when we are betrayed by our faith. What if the universe is not meaningless but actively malevolent? What if there is only torment on the other side of the veil?

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Tasha Robinson on Nov 10 2014

...results in a book where not much happens for hundreds of pages, suggesting in the end that Revival could have trimmed all the buildup and instead been an extremely unnerving short story.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Keith Staskiewicz on Jan 13 2015

The early chapters are honeyed with King's well-established brand of coming-of-age nostalgia, and the story quickly settles into a cozy groove — before long you're reading pages almost faster than you can flip them.

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The Washington Post

Above average
Reviewed by Elizabeth Hand on Nov 10 2014

King’s restrained prose explodes in an ending that combines contemporary realism with cosmic horror reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction and the classic film “Quatermass and the Pit.” The tormented relationship between Jamie Morton and Charles Jacobs takes on the funereal shading of an Arthur Miller tragedy...

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The Independent

Above average
Reviewed by James Kidd on Nov 07 2014

King riffs deftly on pulp fiction’s great set-pieces. But after Revival’s finely judged first 5/6ths, the conclusion feels rushed and unbalanced...Revival is fine if not vintage King, but that still makes it tastier than most bestsellers out there.

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Booklist Online

Good
Reviewed by Daniel Kraus on Sep 15 2014

...King edges ever closer to the madness of the unknowable and eventually, to his courageous credit, stares directly at it. Though narrative wheels spin in place on occasion, the book’s engine is powered by high-octane dread, and few fuels run stronger.

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The Maine Edge

Excellent
Reviewed by Allen Adams on Nov 12 2014

“Revival” is the sort of book whose power is revealed incrementally, so slowly that one doesn’t realize what looms ahead until it is too late. And when the full elemental force of the tale is unleashed at book’s end, the reader is left to contemplate some big questions – as well as the possibility that some such questions are best left unanswered.

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The Boston Globe

Good
Reviewed by John Freeman on Nov 08 2014

“Revival” is a brave book because it dares to look closely at the way that religion is a fiction, but perhaps a necessary one. It is a moving novel because it shows how religion’s assurances are just that, hardly guarantees of outcome.

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BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Arlene Mckanic on Nov 27 2014

Don’t do what this reviewer did and read the last pages of Revival in the middle of the night in a house way out in the woods. Once again, King proves that he’s not a squillionaire best-selling horror author for nothing.

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USA Today

Good
Reviewed by Brian Truitt on Nov 10 2014

Revival is often heartfelt, as characters deal with painful loss, and the author invests you wholly in the separate journeys of Jamie and Charlie as they arrive at their inevitable crossroads and a voltaic endgame. Say hallelujah, for the King has risen to the occasion once again.

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Tor

Good
Reviewed by Niall Alexander on Nov 11 2014

It’s classic King: the power source remains the same—high capacity and remarkably reliable—but the wiring connected to Revival’s capacitors? Wicked efficient.

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Express

Good
Reviewed by Barry Forshaw on Oct 31 2014

...it is one of his most satisfyingly disturbing novels in some time, and readers who have lamented his turn to crime fiction with such books as Mr Mercedes will be glad to see him back in classic King territory, as gruesome and unsettling as ever. What’s more, it’s a sharp and detailed character study of two very different men...

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Tampa Bay Times

Good
Reviewed by Colette Bancroft on Nov 12 2014

...Revival gives familiar themes — the relationship between science and religion, the fine line between grief and madness — new power. It's King in electrifyingly fine form.

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Newsday

Good
Reviewed by Elizabeth Hand on Dec 05 2014

King's restrained prose explodes in an ending that combines contemporary realism with cosmic horror. The tormented relationship between Jamie Morton and Charles Jacobs takes on the funereal shading of an Arthur Miller tragedy -- albeit one electrified by the power to bring the dead to life.

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We Love This Book

Above average
Reviewed by John Lewis on Nov 27 2014

...though its relatively short closing third somewhat lessens the emotional wallop of the novel, especially given just how superb its opening acts are. Nevertheless, readers will luxuriate in this masterful tale of loneliness and what drives us all to try and feel that much bigger and more significant in this great, big wild world.

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The Miami Herald

Above average
Reviewed by Rene Rodriguez on Nov 09 2014

...Revival also feels more personal than most: More than anything else, mourning is the central theme, tucked inside a fantastical story. King is working out his own doubts and demons here, and it’s the devil — not God — who lurks in the lightning.

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Journal Sentinel

Good
Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman on Nov 14 2014

The novel's ending is dark, disquieting and pretty horrifying, revealing a mind (the narrator's for sure; King's perhaps) searching for answers to age-old questions about life and death.

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Tulsa World

Good
on Nov 23 2014

If this is your first King novel, it’s not a bad choice. You don’t need to know anything about his oeuvre coming in, and if you like the writing style, there are dozens of other King books you’ll probably enjoy.

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St. Louis Today

Below average
Reviewed by Amanda St. Amand on Nov 22 2014

It’s well-intentioned, but what’s been a compelling story comes undone with a finale that left me disappointed.

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Paste

Below average
Reviewed by Keaton Lamle on Dec 03 2014

...it seems odd for somebody as convinced of the goodness of human nature as Stephen King to spend a year writing a story that lulls readers into a sense of romantic escape for the better part of 400 pages and then, just when they’re most vulnerable, throws boiling water in their faces, screaming, “Welcome to the real world, jackass!”

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Star-Telegram

Above average
Reviewed by PRESTON JONES on Nov 13 2014

...a satisfying weight, despite its relative (for King, anyway) brevity at 416 pages. Briskly paced and sharply observed, it’s one of King’s strongest outings in years, a spiritual sequel of sorts to 2011’s unwieldy 11/22/63.

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Star-Telegram

Good
Reviewed by PRESTON JONES on Nov 09 2014

...a satisfying weight...Wondering what lies beyond death is a tantalizing — and in King’s capable hands, terrifying — proposition.

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Slant Magazine

Above average
Reviewed by CHUCK BOWEN on Nov 06 2014

Revival represents a vast improvement over Mr. Mercedes, but the premise is so good, and the initial chapters so suggestive, that one comes to resent King's speed-freak stylizing, which appears to be born less from inspiration than mechanical compulsion.

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Slant Magazine

Below average
Reviewed by CHUCK BOWEN on Nov 06 2014

Revival represents a vast improvement over Mr. Mercedes, but the premise is so good, and the initial chapters so suggestive, that one comes to resent King's speed-freak stylizing, which appears to be born less from inspiration than mechanical compulsion.

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Detroit News / AP

Good
Reviewed by Rob Merrill on Nov 13 2014

King fans won't find anything to complain about here. At just over 400 pages it's one of his quicker reads and any hint of the supernatural is blended with tender moments that ground the characters.

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Biff Bam Pop!

Good
Reviewed by Amanda Blue on Dec 20 2014

I couldn’t put this book down. From the first paragraph I was mesmerized. It came with me everywhere...I appreciate that the vision and the nightmare of Revival is a personal one, and this one belongs to Stephen King. And though I wouldn’t want to be inside his head, Revival put me there in a new way.

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This is Horror

Good
Reviewed by Ross Warren on Nov 12 2014

It is great to see King return to the realms of the more full-on horror and supernatural of the books that made his name and, after the miss-fire of Doctor Sleep, showcasing he still has the literary skill to produce a brutal and uncompromising novel that strikes right at the darkest heart of the genre.

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http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com

Good
Reviewed by kimbacaffeinate on Dec 25 2014

Dark and disturbing Revival by Stephen King takes us on an unsettling journey that addresses man’s darkest fear; Death. Spanning five decades the characters and disturbing tale ensnare the reader holding them captive.

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Jenn's Bookshelves

Excellent
on Nov 14 2014

So as I got to the end of the book, I couldn’t speak. I didn’t want to; I had to sit quietly for nearly an hour, contemplating my feelings.

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Raging Biblioholism

Good
Reviewed by Drew on Nov 29 2014

...the ride leading up to that is terrific: creepy, curious, classic King. You can pick apart various pieces of this (or any other) King novel but to do so is to miss the point...I can think of no better goal for a novelist than that: delivering pleasure unto their readers.

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Book Chatter

Above average
Reviewed by Ti on Dec 02 2014

Compared to his other novels, the ones he is known for (IT, The Shining, The Stand, Carrie), this one seems a little thin but if you dig deep, there is substance there and some well-developed characters to spend some time with.

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Book Chatter

Below average
Reviewed by Ti on Dec 02 2014

The story lagged for me and since I was expecting a real horror story, I was slightly disappointed with the direction that it took. It seemed too safe and yet, I still enjoyed it.

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Bibliophile By the Sea

Above average
Reviewed by Diane on Dec 08 2014

The novel covers a period of about 50 years, and while the first half of the book held my interest, the second half was slow going. It is, however, the last section that packs a wallop and stuck with me, it is here that the writing reminded me of the Stephen King style of writing I like best.

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It's Either Sadness or Euphoria

Above average
Reviewed by Larry on Nov 26 2014

...the ending, like many of King's books, tended to go a little awry for a time. But it's a really interesting read, one which King fans will truly enjoy.

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The Speculative Scotsman

Good
Reviewed by Niall Alexander on Nov 17 2014

I dare say Revival doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it doesn't need to, either. It's classic King: the power source remains the same—high capacity and remarkably reliable—but the wiring connected to Revival's capacitors? Wicked efficient.

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Reader Dad

Good
Reviewed by Matt Craig on Nov 10 2014

Stephen King continues at the top of his game, one of our finest living writers. Revival is likely to become a firm favourite for many Constant Readers, an excellent example of the breadth of King’s abilities as a storyteller.

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Bookworm Blues

Good
Reviewed by BookwormBlues on Jan 06 2015

I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would, and a lot less than I wanted to. It’s the Stephen King Curse. I swear it exists.

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https://sfbook.com

Excellent
Reviewed by D. L. Denham on Dec 19 2014

If you love King, read this. If you love good character development and are nostalgic of the 1960s, 70s, 80s, etc… then by all means, read it. This is the Stephen King that most of his fans fell in love with! Including me.

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Bookish

Excellent
Reviewed by Evie Seo on Dec 04 2014

I found Revival to be utterly fascinating and illuminating. In parts controversial...this story raises more questions than it answers and does not end on a hopeful note, but it's certainly a finely crafted piece of intelligent, affecting and mentally stimulating literature and I am so glad I got a chance to read it.

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Literary R&R

Good
Reviewed by Mandy on Nov 24 2014

He's always been able to tie together multiple seemingly random incidents throughout his novels and combine them into one amazing conclusion at the end. That's why I love King. That's why I love his novels. Not because they scare me. Because he is one hell of a writer who is always evolving.

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Reader Rating for Revival
72%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 6481 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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