Tuesday Terror! Revival by Stephen King

revivalI tried, Mr King, I really tried…

Our narrator, Jamie Morton, first meets Pastor Charles Jacobs when Jamie is a little boy. Jacobs has come to the quiet little town to be the new pastor, and his wife and young son soon follow. For a few years all is well, and Jamie gets to know him better through the youth club attached to the church, where Jacobs teaches the kids not just about God but about his other great passion, electricity. But when a horrific accident occurs, Jacobs loses his faith in God and leaves the parish. Many years later, when Jamie is an adult, they meet again – the first of several meetings throughout their lives. As time passes, Jacobs becomes a faith healer, using his knowledge of electricity to produce what seem like miraculous cures, and hiding this ability behind a fake veneer of religious fervour. But Jacobs has a secret ambition and he intends to involve Jamie in achieving it…

I give up on Stephen King – I really do. I absolutely don’t understand what people see in him. This book is astoundingly dull, meandering and derivative; and, even worse, it’s not the tiniest bit scary. The writing is fine – nothing special – but it’s a short-story plot buried alive under a ton-weight of irrelevant minutiae. We get hundreds of pages of Jamie’s whole life story – an unremarkable one. We get a blow by blow account of his entire childhood and adolescence with no detail omitted – first kiss, first sex, even first cigarette – good grief! He becomes a guitarist, so we get pages of stuff about what chords are used in rock’n’roll songs of the ’70s (let’s face it, we all know ’70s guitarists only knew three chords, even when they were sober). We get his up-and-down career, his heroin addiction, his affair with a younger woman (funny how all fictional men seem able to achieve that particular piece of wish fulfilment, isn’t it?), all in tedious and prolonged detail. I’ve managed to fit his dull life into around 100 words (including sarcastic asides) – why did King take 300 or more pages? And every 100 pages or so, Jacobs puts in a brief appearance, just to remind the reader that there’s supposed to be a story in there somewhere.

Stephen King
Stephen King

Finally, in the last quarter or so of the book, we get down to the point. Jacobs has by this time morphed into a sinister villain type. He has found the secret of an ancient power mentioned in the old books, such as Lovecraft’s Necronomicon (which is of course a fictional tome to which Lovecraft frequently referred in his own works) and intends to use the power for purposes he won’t reveal to Jamie until the time comes. He cons Jamie into participating and then…suddenly we’re in a Lovecraft-meets-Frankenstein pastiche with no originality to it at all. And no scariness. And no credibility. Even the name he gives to the secret he has found is laughably pedestrian. And then…

Climax over, does he finish? Oh no, King clearly thinks we’re not miserably depressed enough yet, so we go back to Jamie’s tedious life and ramble on for what seems like forever, with Jamie even more dismal than he was when he was a heroin addict. Every now and again we’d reach a point where I thought that must surely be it, but he’d always find yet another little bit of woe to tack on. I gave it every chance to thrill by listening late at night with the lights off – I haven’t had so many good nights’ sleep in years. I tried, Mr King, I really tried…

I listened to the Audible audiobook version of this, narrated by David Morse, who did his very best with the material available. But it’s true what they say about sows’ ears.

NB This audiobook was provided for review by Audible UK.

sleeping porcupine

Fretful Porpentine rating: Zzzzzzzzzz!

Overall Story rating:          😐 😐

59 thoughts on “Tuesday Terror! Revival by Stephen King

  1. At least the porpentine got a good nap! Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this one, FictionFan. I know what you mean too about authors whose work gets a lot of ‘happy press’ and hype, but you wonder what the fuss is about. Well, at least you can say you gave it a go before deciding what you thought.

    • Yes, I’ve never seen the porpentine so relaxed! I guess maybe his earlier books were good – I haven’t read them, so can’t judge. But it seems to me he’s coasting on his reputation now and has enough of a loyal fan base to get away with it. It’s not that it’s badly written, just all a bit…pointless…

  2. After all the hype, I’ve been waiting to read some reviews. Whew, glad I wasn’t looking forward to this one. I know what you mean about King. After loving Salem’s Lot and some of his earlier books, I totally went off him. 11/22/63 drew me in again because of the subject matter. Then I totally enjoyed Duma Key, so I was now wondering about some of his other new ones. Thanks for saving me!

    • I haven’t read much of his stuff at all. I think I read one or two many years ago and wasn’t too impressed, and it’s only since I started reading horror again recently that I’ve tried a few of his things to see what I’ve missed. It might just be that his style doesn’t work for me, but I really can’t see why he has such a reputation. I give up!!!

  3. Look at the lovely porpentine! What a super picture. But anyway. I have always found Stephen King a bit hit and miss, to be honest. When I was at school there was a brief period when it was ‘fashionable’ to read him, having graduated from the Goosebumps series we were all so keen on. (As you can probably tell – I wasn’t in the ‘cool’ gang at school!). I liked Pet Sematary, Carrie and It, I think. I have tried others over the years but I find him very dull indeed. I thought I must be missing something as he is such a celebrated writer. This one sounds terrible. Although – the twin passions of religion and electricity made me laugh.

    • Awfully sweet, isn’t he? I hope nobody shakes the branch…

      I’m sure I read a couple of his books years ago, but can’t remember which. I don’t think I was too impressed though, but I did like the film of Carrie. But this one…it seems to me he’s trying to write literature and just tacking on a horror ending to keep his fans happy. But unfortunately he’s not good enough at the literature side to carry it – just describing someone’s fairly nondescript life doesn’t count. But yes, the electricity bit was amusing – he kept trying to tie it in with the religious bit. Oh dear!

  4. Oh that porpentine looks adorable! I want the little porpie, now. Any idea how porpie’s might get on with cats? PS your ‘not impressed with Mr King’ secret is safe with me. Though I did like the film that was made of his Shawshank Redemption, but that might have been more to do with Morgan Freeman.

    Do porpentine’s eat cat food? Perhaps you could adopt the laid back porpie as a new icon. I think, perhaps for hedonic goods, boxes of chocolates, fluffy towels, scented bath salts and the like, and 5 of the wee porps, draped over tree trunks, indicates uber success!

    • Tut! The unfortunate use of apostr’oph’es has made i’t extremely diffi’cult to read this com’ment! But yes the porpentine is sweet, isn’t he? However while checking images I came across some of dogs that had obviously tried to ‘play’ with porpentines – ouch! So I’m not sure cat’s and porpie’s are going to be a good mix – unless you have great tweezer skills…

      We’ve had a little wee hedgehog living in our gardens for the last few weeks – all of the domestic pets are kerflummoxed by it.

  5. Embarrassed head hanging – not one, but TWO inappropriate apostrophes in my above post. Horrors! or perhaps Horror’s!!!

    All grammatical sense fled, overcome as I was with an attack of the severe cuties. Go on, the punishment must be to have grammatically outraged porpies flung my ways, quills vertical and lethal with distaste

  6. Have you read any of King’s short fiction? I have yet to make it through any of his novels, but some of the older shorts are really fantastic and weird. “Here There Be Tygers” sticks out in my mind.

    There’s something about reviews of bad books that I find entertaining. Thanks for writing!

    • I’ve only read a couple of his short stories. I thought The Lawnmower Man was quite funny, but The Children of the Corn, which is supposed to be one of his classics, had the same effect on me as this one. Although at least it was shorter…

      Haha! The review gets it out of my system! 😉

  7. Oh dear. I read the NY Times book review that raved about this book, saying it was a return to his fine form. Then I took the plunge and bought it, thinking this would be the very FIRST book of Mr. King’s that I would read. Sob. Sob. Sob…..

  8. I just have to say when you don’t like a book it is a win:win for me; not only is my TBR safe but I get to have a good chuckle while reading your review. I had/have promised myself to try one Stephen King book in 2015 but maybe not this one! I loved the fact that you gave it a chance… so congratulations on a run of good nights sleep 😉

    • Haha! Happy to oblige – and I may listen to it again sometime…if I develop insomnia, that is, or if the porpentine starts to fret! If you’re really going to try one (why???) I get the distinct impression his earlier ones might be better…

  9. Awww…sorry you had to listen to it. I was all about King for awhile, and I read some of the longest novels. I haven’t read one since the one that was about the kid in The Shining after he was grown up. It did not measure up. For me, it’s a once and done read when I read his books. I did enjoy Lisey’s Story, a story, if I recall, that was written for his wife. It was one of the last I read. The first I read was The Stand and it took me a few weeks to get through it. Maybe you have to be Amurrican. 😉

  10. Great review. I’ve read three Stephen King books: The Stand, Misery, and Dreamcatcher. I liked all those, though do not appreciate his writing style as much as I’ld like. However, I liked the ideas in all — and I think that’s what I enjoy about him — his ideas. He appears to be quite a prolific writer. Odd that I’ve tried none of his other books …

    • Thanks, LR! I think his earlier books must have been better – I haven’t read them, but I’ve seen the films of both Carrie and Misery and liked them both (though I thought The Shining was kinda silly). But this one really wasn’t original at all – to be fair, he did mention Lovecraft in the book, so he wasn’t trying to hide that he was basing his story on Lovecraft’s ideas…

      • So now he’s reduced to “being inspired” by other authors….. I wanted to read Under the Dome, but after skimming a few passages while at the bookstore, decided against it. Mr. Mercedes is supposed to be “good”. I may skim a few of those pages and see what I think….

        • Certainly his fans seem to have enjoyed this one a lot more than I did, so despite my feelings about it I wouldn’t want to put anyone off really. I just don’t think his style works for me…

  11. That porcupine photo is just so funny! It says it all. I like some of King’s works (11/22/63 being the last one I read). He’s more of a storyteller than a great writer in my mind but not everyone of his books engages me – it’s hit or miss with me but when it hits, it’s an entertaining story to read on holiday.

    • His long-term fans seem to be enjoying this one, so I hope you do too. I reckon sometimes an author and a reader simply don’t gel, and I suspect that’s the case with Mr King and me… 🙂

  12. In general, I’m too cowardly for horror writing. Beyond a handful of his short stories all I’ve read of King’s is The Shining which I found genuinely scary. His book On Writing is very good and not scary at all but it seems to be a sad fact that King is not improving over time.

    • I prefer psychological horror to gruesomeness in general, but King just doesn’t seem to work for me – in books anyway. I’ve found some of the films quite good – Carrie, Misery etc. But yes, I get the impression he’s not as good as he once was. If I had the strength I’d read one of his early books…but I just can’t bring myself to try another…

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