It may feel like Stephen King is never far from these pages, but there’s a simple reason for that: Stephen King is never far from releasing another book, and Stephen King’s books are never far from massive sales figures. Having released two novels in 2013 – the pulpy crime fiction of Joyland and the long-awaited sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep – along with the Kindle single non-fiction essay Guns and the book for his years-in-the-making musical collaboration with John Mellencamp, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, King is set for a relatively more sedate 2014, with only two novels announced for publication (so far).
The first, Mr. Mercedes, is due for release by Scribner in June, and is being billed as King’s first hard-boiled detective novel. It’s been known about for quite some time, with King saying in interviews as early as last May that it was just about finished. More mysterious has been the second, Revival, which King has only really mentioned in passing. Now, some details have emerged: Revival will chase Mr. Mercedes by a mere five months, with Scribner once again publishing and looking at a November release. It will be a typically hefty tome, running 520 pages to Mr. Mercedes’ 496.
The official synopsis reads like a game of Stephen King bingo, encompassing small town New England, a mid-20th century setting, religious fanatics and drifters:
In a small New England town more than half a century ago, a boy is playing with his new toy soldiers in the dirt in front of his house when a shadow falls over him. He looks up to see a striking man, the new minister, Jamie learns later, who with his beautiful wife will transform the church and the town. The men and boys are a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls, with the Reverend Jacobs — including Jamie’s sisters and mother. Then tragedy strikes, and this charismatic preacher curses God and is banished from the shocked town.
Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from age 13, he plays in bands across the country, running from his own family tragedies, losing one job after another when his addictions get the better of him. Decades later, sober and living a decent life, he and Reverend Charles Jacobs meet again in a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and the many terrifying meanings of Revival are revealed.
King imbues this spectacularly rich and dark novel with everything he knows about music, addiction, and religious fanaticism and every nightmare we ever had about death. This is a masterpiece from King in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.