I probably wouldn’t even have read Seth Patrick’s novel Reviver (2013), but I noticed on the back cover a small review by SF author Neal Asher. I’m familiar with Asher’s work and even share the Table of Contents with him in a recent SciFi anthology, so naturally I was intrigued.
A few weeks back, I was at the local branch of my little public library, and although I was already reading two books, found myself stuck there with my books and my beloved laptop still at home. So I started wandering the stacks. This library is small enough not to differentiate between general fiction, science fiction, and fantasy, so they are all intermixed. I was randomly strolling through, occasionally picking up and reading the summaries of various novels, when I happened upon “Reviver” and noticed Asher’s name on the back cover. I figured, what the heck.
This is Seth Patrick’s very first novel, and I can only imagine he went through quite a few iterations before he arrived at the final product I consumed. It was a terrific mix of horror, mystery, and a hint of speculative fiction. I know there are purists who detest that sort of thing, but I never was one for the extreme blood, guts, and gore of modern horror. Yes, there is graphic imagery in the novel, but nothing I couldn’t handle, and the psychological horror totally hooked me.
The premise of the story revolves around people known as “revivers.” They have the mysterious (presumably neurological) ability to summon the “souls” of dead people hours after they’ve died, but only for a few minutes before they must be permanently let go.
The protagonist, Jonah Miller is an experienced forensic reviver, someone who recalls the dead after a murder or other police involved death, to discover the identity of the killer or other vital information for a criminal case. He’s also flawed, damaged, and utterly likeable.
Revivers work both in forensics and in private practice, but Jonah has chosen the former. However, through a set of circumstances he initially doesn’t understand, after a difficult revival, he finds himself in contact with something else beyond the grave, something ancient and evil.
No one believes him, chalking up his experiences to overwork, stress, and after all, he did have a previous breakdown.
However, when award-winning novelist Daniel Harker, the man who broke the news of revival to the world, is murdered, presumably by fanatics who are zealously opposed to revival, Jonah, Harker’s journalist daughter Annabel, and his friend and support technician “Never” Geary, find themselves embroiled in a conspiracy that transcends religious fanaticism, covert government experiments in revival as torture, and are thrown into the depths of true evil.
Mr. Patrick is Irish, and Geary also being from Ireland, is a nod to that, but the other characters are American and the action takes place in the U.S. Even if published for UK audiences, the editors did let slip the odd “Britishism” in the speech of Americans. I didn’t write down each incident, so I can’t give examples, and fortunately, they were minor enough not to drag me out of the narrative for very long.
Just to let you know, I stayed awake until early morning today finishing off “Reviver.” Yes, it is a literal page turner.
I didn’t know while reading it that this was the first book of a trilogy, but the Epilogue certainly set everything up for a sequel. I was a tad disappointed, because by that time, I was relating to Jonah as a person, and I know he needed the rest.
This one is pure horror, mystery, and fun, so it gets my highest recommendation. Go out and get a copy.