There was a time when Stephen King wrote a lot about writers but three of his recent books, Joyland, Doctor Sleep and now Revival, his latest, have a fairground feel to them. I’m in no way saying that King is re-writing the same book time and again, but there is a certain familiarity in some of the themes.
In Revival, new pastor Charles Jacobs arrives in small town New England with his wife and young son. He is community minded and soon sets up a youth club to which the local kids flock to watch and join in with his passion: experiments in electricity. Jacobs becomes especially close to young lad Jamie Morton. The new pastor makes a good impression on his congregation and life is good for him until a tragic accident results in a sermon from which there is no going back and he leaves the town, ruined by grief.
Years later, working in the music business and a recovered junkie, Jamie comes across Jacobs again, working in a travelling show, creating “electric portraits” and behaving like a latter day Wizard of Oz.
The men’s paths converge in a finale which makes us question life, death and what – if anything – there is after that.
I enjoyed the book, it was good, but not great. Too many of the characters seemed familiar from previous King books and I was disappointed that there wasn’t as much play around the title than I had expected and hoped for.
I stand by my assertion that Doctor Sleep was King’s best book in recent years.
Read if you are a King fan, but probably not the best one to start with.