Review: Revival by Stephen King

RevivalRevival by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In 1962, while playing in his yard, 6-year old, Jamie Morton, suddenly has a shadow fall upon him. He looks up to find a statuesque man in church garb standing over him.

The man introduces himself as Charles Jacobs, he’s the new reverend, just arrived in town.

Jacobs, the Rev, is young, vibrant and successful at filling pews; breathing life back into the somewhat stale local church.

He also develops strong relationships with a lot of the young people, Jamie included, who actually is a favorite of sorts for Jacobs.

After an unexpected tragedy strikes, Jacobs is prompted to move on. That’s not the last time Jamie will come across him however; not by a long shot.

From there the narrative progresses with a classic coming-of-age feel and ultimately, ends up spanning five decades.

We follow Jamie as he discovers his gift for music, finds first love, moves from home, struggles with addiction and encounters Jacobs again and again.

Jacobs is the shadow that falls over his entire life.

I didn’t come up with that. That’s from the book, but definitely captures Jacobs presence in this story.

I loved the way King built this one up and progressed the narrative. As Jamie begins to realize the depths to which Jacobs has gone with his electrical obsession, and subsequent pursuit of its potential healing powers, the intensity continues to grow and grow and grow.

The interactions between Jamie and Jacobs begin to feel more dangerous every time they meet.

Jacobs electrical work and experiments were so interesting, but most interesting of all to me, were his healings. The revival-tent displays of power. It had a real mad scientist energy that had me more charged than Frankenstein’s monster.

Revival is a stunning example of King’s status as master storyteller.

From beginning to end, I was entranced. There is so much substance to be found within these pages; so many lines I wish I could recall at will. It’s exceptional. I feel like I will carry this story with me for a long time to come.

The ending is horrifying. Emotionally, philosophically, theologically; there’s a lot to unpack.

We’re talking full blown existential crisis upon reading the last 40-or so pages. I would love to read this again and annotate it. I definitely think it is worthy of that care.

Thank you to all my Constant Reader friends who finally pushed me to pick this one up. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

View all my reviews

Review: The Tommyknockers by Stephen King

The TommyknockersThe Tommyknockers by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Okay, I know, I know. This isn’t a perfect book.

Luckily, I am not a critical reader. Therefore a book doesn’t need to be entirely perfect in order for me to love it.

I rate books based upon my reading experience and I absolutely loved my time rereading The Tommyknockers.

This SciFi-Horror novel, first published in 1987, is set in the small town of Haven, Maine.

One day while walking in the woods of her rather large property, local woman, Bobbi Anderson, quite literally stumbles upon a mysterious metal object protruding from the ground.

Unable to understand what she is seeing, Bobbi quickly becomes obsessed with freeing the object.

The longer she’s around it however, the more she begins to notice certain disturbing side effects suffered by both herself and her old dog, Peter.

Regardless of any strange happenings, Bobbi continues to feel the pull of the object in the woods.

Around the time Bobbi has developed this new obsession, her old friend, Jim Gardener, known as Gard, finds himself in the depths of a true alcoholic bender.

On a morning where he is moments from ending it all, Gard experiences an overwhelming feeling that Bobbi is in real danger; he needs to call her.

Unable to get through, he does what anyone would do. He hitchhikes to her house.

He finds Bobbi in a state of, shall we say, disrepair.

Bobbi gives Gard, her trusted friend, a run-down of all she has been up to; including showing him the object.

She enlists his help in her mission to free it. Although he has reservations, Gard loves Bobbi in his own way, and ultimately does decide to stick around and help her out.

From there, we meet the town of Haven. The other locals who have begun to feel the effects of the object’s greater exposure.

The fallout seems to be having an effect on the health and wellness of the entire town. Incidentally, it also has a significant effect on anyone passing through.

Written towards the end of the Cold War, at a time when discussions of nuclear weapons, power and nonproliferation evoked a lot of passion amongst people, that influence can be felt here.

The fact that I am using the word fallout, as an apt way to describe what was happening to the citizens of Haven, exemplifies that.

In addition to the social commentary, which I feel King is genuinely good at weaving into his stories, he also incorporates various other elements he seems to enjoy exploring.

There’s author protagonists, both Bobbi and Gard are writers, alcoholism, mental telepathy, revivalist preachers, dolls, rats, bats, creepy kids and a fantastic array of body horror. It really has it all.

Also, as usual, this story is full of witty humor and characters that are so well-developed you feel like you’ve known them your whole life.

As a Maine native, I can tell you this story is full of Mainerism, as well!

Overall, I had such a fun time sinking my teeth into this one again. I had forgotten so much.

Additionally, I picked up so many more connections to the great Kingverse than the first time around; having an additional 20-years to read his stories.

I think this one is underrated. Not just underrated, it gets a solidly bad rap.

However, I humbly disagree. I think if you love King, and love SciFi, you can love this book as well.

View all my reviews

Review: Duma Key by Stephen King

Duma KeyDuma Key by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Duma Key has climbed the ranks and officially entered my ‘Top 5 Kings’ List. This is quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself.

Edgar Freemantle is a successful businessman.

Living with his wife of 20+ years in Minnesota, they have raised two healthy girls and have a good life. A solid life.

This is, until the day Edgar is involved in a horrific accident on one of his construction sites.

Crushed by a piece of heavy equipment, he is lucky to be alive, although losing his right arm, injuring his hip and scrambling his brain doesn’t seem so lucky to him immediately after the fact.

His recovery is extremely difficult, putting a lot of strain on his marriage, with him and Pam ultimately separating.

His psychologist, Dr. Kamen, suggests perhaps a change of scenery would be best for his recovery efforts, as well as a hobby. Edgar figures, why not? He has the money, what is he sticking around Minnesota for?

He rents a beach house on a remote, undeveloped piece of land on the Florida coast, Duma Key. The house, something of an artist’s retreat, is perfect for him, as he is feeling like doing some sketching himself.

Edgar begins to settle in and does indeed begin to create amazing art.

He’s unsure where some of it is coming from. He just seems to be compelled. The drawings and paintings pour out of him at an incredible rate, becoming more intricate and astounding as he progresses.

During this time, he makes a new friend while out for one of his daily beach walks. Jerome Wireman lives at the big house on Duma Key, caring for its aging lady of the house, Elizabeth Eastlake.

It is mainly through these characters that Edgar begins to learn of the dark history and lore of Duma Key and the Eastlake family.

However, Duma has a lot to say itself and that’s when things really start to get dangerous.

There is so much to love about this story. I knew absolutely zero about it going in. I don’t even think I ever read a full synopsis.

I was delighted as the story unfolded. The relationships, as is to be expected with King, were so deep and well done. The friendship between Edgar and Wireman is easily one of the best I have ever read.

In my opinion, King is great with this type of human dynamics. Further, I really appreciate how none of the relationships in this story were romantic.

It’s friendship, it’s family, and none of them are perfect, but they’re all so real and compelling.

Duma Key itself was incredibly well done. He has such a sense of place, always incorporating the idea that places remember; pieces of history live on through the lifeblood of the land and structures themselves.

You see this type of idea a lot throughout King’s works, from this one, to The Shining, Pet Sematary and everything in between.

Overall, I could wax poetic about this novel for hours. There is so much to unpack with this story. It’s extremely intricate, I would love to read it again someday and most likely will.

If you are a Constant Reader and haven’t picked this up yet, delay no more. It’s a stunner!

View all my reviews

Review: The Institute by Stephen King

The InstituteThe Institute by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m going to need lots and lots of time to pull myself together after this.

I have such a difficult time formulating actual ‘reviews’ of King’s work.

A full review may never come. I have made peace with this.

It’s okay. I accept my right to just fangirl and move on.

One thing I will mention is the phenomenal dynamic between the group of children in this story.

In my opinion, King writes kids so well. Their honesty and way of viewing the world, he always hits that spot on.

A group of children banding together to fight the forces of evil?

It doesn’t get better than that!

Original:


Reads synopsis whilst at work:

RIP Me.
An all new 500+ page book from the KING!!!!

My favorite author.
Released just in time for my birthday.
Comparisons made to Firestarter.

I am overwhelmed with enthusiasm for this!

Release Day Update:

WHERE IS MY COPY!?!?
WHERE IS MY MAIL PERSON!?!?

Final Update:

IT’S HERE!!!!!!!!!!

View all my reviews

Review: Rose Madder by Stephen King

Rose MadderRose Madder by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Opening with one of the most vivid scenes of violence I have ever read, Rose Madder tells the compelling tale of Rosie Daniels as she makes the decision to, and subsequently, leaves her vicious husband, Norman.

Admittedly, I had tried to read this book on two prior occasions and just couldn’t make it past that first scene. It is so harsh and was mentally exhausting for me. I would put it down and then just avoid it.

This doesn’t mean I thought it was bad. I knew if I kept going, I would enjoy the book, I just needed to be in the right head space to do so.

Even for King, those first pages are brutal and shattering because you know that is real.

This isn’t a book where the villain is an alien, an ancient spirit, or a ghost; he is just a man. A corrupt cop with a penchant for violence against women.

One of my favorite aspects of King’s writing is his ability to fully develop his characters. That is certainly the case here. From Rosie and Norman, all the way to the smallest side characters, I felt like I knew them all.

Rosie married Norman when she was very young, just out of high school. She had lost her family and had no outside support system. He became her whole world, no matter how difficult that world was.

After she decides to leave him, she discovers just how sheltered she has become. Her ability to navigate the outside world is close to nonexistent. I felt bad for her. I wished I was there to help her and guide her.

She hasn’t a clue where she will go or what she’ll do. She has no skills. What will she do for a job? How will she survive without money?

Regardless of her questions however, Rosie knows if she doesn’t leave, Norman will kill her. It’s not an if, it’s a when.

On a flight for her life, she boards a bus and selects the farthest stop she can afford. Once there, she will try to build a new life for herself with no resources. She left everything behind.

Unfortunately, if there is one thing that Norman is good at, it’s tracking people down. He’s humiliated by Rosie walking out on him and vows to find her.

Now his sole mission, he has big plans to make her pay. No matter what it takes, no matter how many laws he has to break, he will not give up.

The intensity that builds over the course of this book is truly something special. The narrative alternates back and forth between Rosie and Norman, so you can track his progress, and that really helped to build the sense of dread.

I became quite attached to Rosie rather quickly, as did many she met in her new life. That definitely escalated my fear for what I knew was coming.

In addition, there was a really interesting fantastical element thrown in that reminded me a bit of a cross between The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Dark Tower series.

That may seem like a really odd combination, and it is, but in King’s skilled hands, it somehow works.

I truly enjoyed this story. Thank you to all my Constant Reader friends who pushed me to finally pick it up this year.

I found it to be empowering and moving. I loved Rosie so much and her growth was satisfying. I am so happy I made time for it and can absolutely see myself reading it again some day.

View all my reviews

Stephen King Reread #4 of 2019: The Dark Half, Review

The Dark HalfThe Dark Half by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


George Stark. Not a very nice guy.

Stephen King Reread #4 for the year and it was just as brilliant as I remembered. Equal parts warped, dark and brutal, this story is a must read for any King fan.

I won’t get into the connections between this and King’s own life and experience with Richard Bachman. Let’s hope this twisted tale of a pseudonym gone rogue is 100% a work of fiction.

I mean, a man gets beaten to death with his own prosthetic arm! That’s rough and that doesn’t even begin to brush the surface of this super violent narrative.

The story begins when our protagonist, Thad Beaumont, is just a kid suffering from debilitating headaches and auditory hallucinations. During surgical exploration of his brain, it is discovered that Thad absorbed a twin in utero and parts of that twin suddenly began growing again causing the symptoms he was experiencing!

With that strange occurrence out of the way, Thad goes on to live a normal life. He becomes a college professor and writer, gets married, has twins, creates a pseudonym, George Stark, to write under that he subsequently kills off after being outed…

You know, the usual.

There’s one problem with this life plan, however, George Stark doesn’t want to be dead. He wants to continue his successful pulp fiction writing and he needs Thad on board in order to do so.

When people involved with Thad’s career begin being brutally murdered, Thad is the prime suspect. Even though he has a solid alibi, there is physical evidence linking him to the crimes, like fingerprints!

Thad is innocent and sets out to prove it, as well as stop the person responsible. Along with everyone’s favorite Sheriff, Alan Pangborn, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together with startling results.

The sparrows are flying again…

If you are looking for a viscious, creepy read to pick up this Autumn, look no further. This King Classic has some of the best body horror ever written and will leave you with a sense of dreadful anticipation the entire way through!!!

Highly recommend!

View all my reviews

Rave Review: Song of Susannah (Dark Tower #6) by Stephen King

Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6)Song of Susannah by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OH MY WORD!!
CHILLED TO THE BONE!!!

The last few sentences of the CODA! Stop!!!
I cannot believe I am using this many exclamation points but seriously, have you read this?

I am so in love with this series.
I just want to stare at it all day and consider its meaning.
Its true too the guts meaning.
It’s bloody EPIC.

As a continuation of the overall series, this was pure perfection. You know the end draws nigh. The pace of the story is like a quickening heartbeat racing towards the ultimate conclusion.

I am so happy that I picked this up and continued on my journey to the Tower.
The connections in this one…

Sai King truly is a master of our world or any other for that matter. I doff my cap. Exceptionally intricate, compelling and extraordinarily told. Nothing short of genius.

A must read for any Constant Reader.
You know who you are…
View all my reviews

Review: The Regulators by Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman

The RegulatorsThe Regulators by Richard Bachman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

To the residents of Poplar Street, in suburban Wentworth, Ohio, July 15, 1996 seems like any other summer day. The paperboy is dutifully tending to his route, the Reed twins are entertaining young ladies, and the corner convenience store is functioning like a well-oiled machine.

Little do they know, the proverbial shit is about to hit the fan.

The Regulators are coming to Poplar Street and you are damn lucky if you come out of this alive!

It’s hard to imagine a 475-page novel, taking place in one afternoon on one suburban street, making you cringe in anticipation but this one sure does.

We follow this set cast of characters from the minute The Regulators first come onto their street until the bitter end. Some we love, some we hate but in the end, no one escapes their fate.

You may wonder, yeah, but what’s it all about?

Trust me when I say, it’s best to go into this knowing as little as possible, but for those of you who are just going to insist on knowing more, I will give you this one small clue: (view spoiler)

This novel is hella violent and dark so if that isn’t your cup of tea, you may as well just mosey on by. This book is only for those with the intestinal fortitude to handle intense scenes of violence.

This is actually my second read of this and I would definitely recommend reading Desperation and this novel back-to-back. I think the overall experience is enhanced if handled that way. I love them both and for different reasons. A must read combo for King’s Constant Readers!

View all my reviews

KING REREAD: Desperation Review

DesperationDesperation by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

A bizarrely assembled cast of characters, all with distinct strengths and weaknesses, come together to fight an evil, older and more powerful than they could have ever imagined.

That would be my single-sentence synopsis if someone were to ask me what Desperation is about. If you have ever read a Stephen King novel however, you know there is a lot more to it than that.

I read Desperation for the first time around 2001. I was just done with undergraduate school and was so excited to have time to read for fun. I read quite a few King books that year. At the time, I remember liking it but I wasn’t blown away and ultimately decided on a 3-star rating.

Now, close to 20-years later, this is pretty damn close to a perfect read for me.

What can explain the difference?

I’m not really sure. I was so invested in this. The characters were a huge part of the enjoyment factor for me. In my very humble opinion, no one does characters quite like King. He is a master of developing every aspect of character’s personality and the reasons behind it. You never wonder what’s the motivation, you know.

This also has one of my all-time favorite tropes. The mix-matched group of characters, placed into extraordinary circumstances, who band together, no matter their ultimate disagreements about the world, and fight against evil.

Good v. Evil.
I love it.
I’m here for it pretty much every time.

This novel is extremely violent, bloody and graphic. Some of the scenes made my toes curls and my stomach lurch. If that is not your thing, you may want to hard pass on this one. The use of creepy crawlers to instill fear was expertly crafted; again, those with strong fears of snakes, spiders, scorpions, or other beasties of that sort, may want to steer clear.

My one extremely slight critique would be that the final showdown felt a little rushed, hence the 4.5-star rating, as opposed to full 5. This book has a nice, long build-up, and I could definitely have read some more substance at the end. It was great but still I wanted more!

Overall, I am beyond happy that I took the plunge and reread this 706-page beast of modern, horror fiction. I am currently rereading The Regulators and totally digging the many connections I missed the first time around. I would definitely recommend reading these two back-to-back for maximum enjoyment!

View all my reviews

Super Delayed Review: The Outsider by Stephen King

The OutsiderThe Outsider by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been thinking about this book a lot lately.
Why, you may ask?

The answer is because this was my favorite book of 2018 and I never wrote an actual review for it. Full disclosure, I preordered this, started it on release day and then took my sweet ass time completing it, finishing in August of 2018. The fact that I never reviewed it haunts me.

Am I the only person this happens to?

In an effort to appease some of my guilt, let me get a few thoughts down:

I really enjoyed the topics explored in this book. Particularly, the idea that sometimes the court of public opinion is much more unforgiving and harsh than any court of law.

I also enjoyed how King showed vignettes of various flawed characters in the town where our drama unfolds. He described so well the way that the main event affected various people throughout the town like when a stone gets thrown in a pond. It created ripples spreading out and enveloping many lives. I loved this. It reminded me a bit of the way things roll out in Needful Things.

And of course, most of all, I loved my second favorite character from The Bill Hodges trilogy making an appearance!

I knew it was going to happen and I waited and waited and waited and then…

Reunited and it feels so good!!!

The supernatural elements were also fantastic in my opinion. There were classic King scenes that gave me absolute chills and left me wanting to leave the light on when I went to bed.

I would definitely recommend reading The Bill Hodges trilogy first. If you do and you don’t like it, this may not be the book for you. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m on the fence. I think for people who are huge fans of that trilogy, it makes this book extra special.

I suppose you could read this on its own, I just can’t attest to what your experience will be. For me, half the thrill was getting a character I thought I would never see again back in my life.

I know I will end up reading this again someday. I love to reread King books. Most likely if I do read it again, I will read the entire BH trilogy with this one added on the end.

Original: This officially wins my ‘Favorite Book I Read in 2018’ prize. Forever may it reign.

I do still plan to write a review for this someday. I really do. I annotated and everything but how do you review perfection? Just, how?

View all my reviews