First published back in June of 2013, US author Seth Patrick’s debut novel ‘Reviver’ formed the first instalment in a planned trilogy.

DLS Synopsis:
It all started when Eleanor Preston realised that she had the ability to wake the recently deceased – reviving them long enough for them to be able to answer questions and say their family to say final goodbyes.  And from that, sixty-year-old Eleanor had become the first every reviver.  But it took the strong reporting skills of journalist Daniel Harker to inform and then convince the world of what Eleanor could do.  To make them believe, and to eventually accept this unbelievable phenomena.

Now, some twelve years later, the process of reviving has become accepted as a forensic tool as well as the chance for the deceased’s family to say their final farewells.  Following the demise of the initial ‘Revival Baseline Research Group’, the ‘Forensic Revival Service’ (‘FRS’) had sprung into life.  Now, with FRS offices all over the US, revival was a key tool in the fight against crime.

And for Jonah Miller, from the Central East Coast Office of the FRS in Richmond, Virginia, his role as one of the most gifted revivers had always been an all-consuming thing.  Outside of his work he had no life.  However, when the victim of a particularly vicious murder, the clinical psychologist Alice Decker, is revived by him, something happens that scares the hell out of him.  The awoken Decker appears deeply traumatised by something coming for her in the darkness, and then, when the revival is all over, the dead woman speaks a few words to Miller without any aid from the reviver whatsoever.  A feat that should not be possible.  And the words chill him to the bone.

The specialist revival doctor, Stephanie Graves, puts Miller’s apparent ordeal down to overwork.  A mere figment of his stressed and tired mind.  A conclusion that Miller just can’t come to terms with.  It seemed so real.  And when the strange feelings, memories and visions don’t stop there.  Something is desperately wrong.

And then all of a sudden the news that Daniel Harker has been kidnapped is revealed.  With his twenty-five-year-old daughter, Annabel Harker, terrified for what has happened to her father, it’s not long before the news gets worse.  Harker is found dead.  And following his revival by Miller, those responsible seem to be members of the anti-revival organisation – The Afterlifers.

But there is something connecting what is happening to Miller with the kidnapping and despicable death of Daniel Harker.  Without anyone believing what he is experiencing is anything other than stress related, Miller feels more alone than ever before.  But there’s more to Harker’s murder than just a paranoid group of delusional activists.  And together with the revival technician, Never Geary, and Harker’s daughter Annabel,  Jonah Miller will fight to get to the bottom of why Daniel Harker was murdered and ultimately what the malevolent presence is that has been plaguing him ever since Alice Decker’s revival...

DLS Review:
Patrick’s debut is an interesting gritty-crime-thriller / horror crossover, incorporating a particularly original idea which dominates much of the tale’s plot.  And rightly so, Patrick has come up with a concept for his trilogy which in itself has probably enough legs on it to see through a whole series of books, let alone a trilogy.

Furthermore, and what’s possibly the novel’s strongest point, is the depth of detail that Patrick puts into his idea.  Indeed, Patrick makes the entire notion of ‘revival’ seem so utterly believable.  The public reaction that he depicts is incredibly convincing.  The intricate details of the revival process, with the laboriously thought-through backstory along with the added features and side-effects, such as a reviver’s touch delivering a disturbing ‘chill’, just adds further layers and believability to the whole story.  And my god does it grip you and draw you into this strange and unsettling new phenomena.

Aside from the whole ‘revival’ concept, the novel is wonderful character-driven, with a multitude of rich characters, each playing out dominant roles which have their own bearing on the course of the novel.  And interestingly, with so many key characters woven into the fabric of the premise, for the vast majority of the tale it’s hard to pin down a principal antagonist.  Yes there are characters that are hardly the most affable, those that certainly perform some very morally inexcusable actions, and generally not too pleasant and untrusting individuals.  However, not until much later on in this first book does the real key ‘antagonist’ (I shan’t say what or who) get unveiled.  But when it eventually happens, it’s a magnificently gripping realisation.

As a whole, the tale starts off absolutely bursting with details and adrenaline-pumping action that Patrick clearly wants to get down.  The first third of the novel is a rip-roaring rollercoaster of a ride; cramming in the wonderfully intricate and downright thought-provoking details alongside the utterly gripping mystery of the gritty crime plot.  However, the momentum of this entertaining pace is sadly not maintained, and by around the halfway-mark the tale begins to seriously sag.  With pace and punch taking a surprising backseat, Patrick veers towards a handful of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (2003) style elements, with Jonah desperately attempting to uncover what is behind this vast mystery from the various ambiguous clues scattered around.

Luckily, this overly-padded middle-section is knocked for six when the run-up to the devilishly entertaining finale gets underway.  And from here the novel plays out a dramatic final sequence of events akin to something from John Prescott’s ‘Hell’ (2012) might throw down.

Although the book is just the first instalment into a proposed trilogy, it nevertheless contains enough of a singular story to be read and thoroughly enjoy without the need to read the next two books.  Although, with such a powerfully engaging and well-written tale, it will be hard to not want to get your hands on the next book when you can.

All in all, Patrick had a great idea that was bursting with potential, he executed it incredibly well, and delivered one hell of an engaging and enthralling horror/thriller novel.  However the novel could have been just a bit tighter with its delivery, maintaining the momentum better during that often tricky middle-section.  But what a debut novel for this new face in horror to make his presence known with.

The novel runs for a total of 409 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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