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‘Revival’ by Stephen King

Scribner, 416 pp., $30

Stephen King’s second new novel this year (his straight-up detective novel “Mr. Mercedes” published in June) is mostly a return to creepy form for the prolific author of horror and suspense.

In his new novel, “Revival,” King gives us a relatable narrator/hero and a villain with power issues. Then he has them drift in and out of each other’s lives over the next 50 years, leading up to an electric finale where good triumphs (the reader hopes) over evil.

When we first meet hero Jamie Morton, it is October of 1962 and he is 6 years old, playing in the dirt outside his family home in rural Maine. We also meet the Reverend Charles Jacobs, a charismatic young preacher who has moved to town to take over the pulpit at the First United Methodist Church of Harlow. He also has an odd fascination with electricity.

We follow Jamie through his first young love and the discovery of his talent for playing guitar. Jamie goes on to discover fame and all its pitfalls. King clearly wants the reader to identify with Jamie, and the passages about his family life and relationships can be quite touching.

The Rev. Jacobs suffers a loss early on — described in grisly detail — and while he continues, in a fashion, to preach, his life and fate are forever determined by this tragedy.

And this is my one small complaint with the story. Jacobs leaves the church and doesn’t surface again until decades later, running a sideshow carnival specializing in “portraits in lightning.” Later, he becomes a revival-show healer, devolving into a reclusive, evil villain. The reader has spent the majority of time with Jamie, and not enough time with Jacobs to understand this transition.

This is not to say that fans won’t love King’s new novel. I think they will. The characters feel like real people, and their reactions to events — everyday and supernatural — are believable.   They might even find themselves (as I did) reading this tale of morality, redemption and faith long into the night.

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