In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister, Charles Jacobs. Soon they forge a deep bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.
Decades later, Jamie is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Now an addict, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.
At six years old, Jamie Morton is playing with his toy soldiers when a shadow looms over him. This is the shadow of the man named Charles Jacobs, a new minister in town. Jamie gets to know this man and the two have a connection until tragedy strikes Charles Jacobs.
Years later, Jamie is destined to be put in the shadow of Charles Jacobs once more. Jamie has succumbed to a heroin addiction after years of touring with various bands. Jacobs is no longer a minister. He’s now a carnival showman who can tap into what he calls “secret electricity” to not only perform neat tricks for crowds but also to cure people of their afflictions. Including addiction to heroine. Jamie’s life is saved by Jacobs but things might be better if he had never been cured.
While reading the book it doesn’t take very long for the reader to understand this is a Frankenstein story about a man obsessing over his grief and loss and willing to go to any extreme to change the world. He’ll pursue knowledge at the cost of anyone and anything that comes his way.
With most Stephen King books I am of the opinion the journey toward the end of the book is better than the ending itself. With this one I feel the exact opposite. The ending is fantastic but it takes more work than it is worth to get there.
While the character of Charles Jacobs is compelling and interesting and the reader always wonders what is exactly happening with him, the weak point is the main character of Jamie Morton. I never found myself caring enough about him for it to matter to me what happened to him. Also, the story of a man who is struggling through addiction is very well trodden territory for King and it never felt like anything new here.
If the book was cut by a third and told from the perspective of Charles Jacobs this really could have been one of King’s best books. That’s not what we have however and while there are great moments of horror and some compelling events, they don’t add up to a great book.
If you love stories about people who can’t quit their obsessions this is a good one and if you like anything Stephen King writes, this is not your worst choice. Just know, it’s also not your best choice.