By Stephen King
Hodder, out now
Charles Jacobs has an affinity for electricity – and he’s able to do some amazing things with it. But what is driving him?
Prepare for sleepless nights after finishing Stephen King’s latest novel, which marks a return to the horror for which he is best known. It’s told in such a stylish way that you almost – almost, but not quite – forget that it’s a horror novel… until, that is, you reach the final chapters, and realise that the darkness which has been spreading throughout the story has an origin in something much worse than you imagined.
As with a number of his recent books, King draws you in with the account of a man’s life, with all its triumphs and tragedies. Our narrator, Jamie Morton, is just a young boy when he first meets Charles Jacobs, at that point his new pastor. After a gruesome incident that will eventually be the trigger for the horror that ensues, we then spend time experiencing Jamie’s life in a deftly-drawn picture of America over the past five decades. Jamie’s love of, and for, music becomes the one constant in his peripatetic existence, although every so often his life intersects with Charles’ again. Charles is now a healer, but, as Jamie discovers, there is always a price to pay for forbidden knowledge.
There are elements of Shelley’s Frankenstein, Ray Bradbury and Arthur Machen in this tale – if you liked King’s short story N. and/or its comic book version, you’ll love this – with the ending evoking memories of Lovecraft. It’s certainly one of his best novels since his accident in 1999, and up there in his top 10 ever.
Verdict: An insidiously gripping novel that pits faith against science, then trumps them both with horror. 9/10