Reviver is a very strong first novel, an intriguing mix of an imaginative concept and the return of an ancient, end-of-the-world evil. However, it’s not a horror story by any means; more of a supernatural / psy-fi thriller. Most of the plot revolves around untangling the background to revival, how it might be used by intelligence agencies, how it might be opposed by extremist groups, and the shady corporate giants which seek to exploit the grief of the bereaved and the potential of what lies beyond death for commercial – possibly personal – gain.
The core concept, of forensic revival, which allows operators with the talent to bring back the dead for a few moments, is a gem. In fact, I would have enjoyed a straightforward CSI-type story which simply used revival as an investigative tool and explored that side of things in a more everyday manner… maybe the author will play with that in future. But here, the action soon accelerates into a much broader landscape as the protagonist (talented, flaky, likeable reviver with a disturbing back-story) teams up with a wealthy journalist (capable, determined to find out why her father was murdered). We follow their quest for information and answers, zig-zagging across the USA, while the hero struggles to understand the ominous presence he feels intruding from the other side…
There are some excellently spooky moments where the dead speak, and some well-observed interactions between the geeky reviver and his more sociable best friend. The investigation strays into Da Vinci Code territory at times (jetting off on a whim to visit inmates in mental institutions and the like), and the villain of the piece comes over all James Bond with some expositional speechifying to the powerless-to-intervene cast.
The writing is accessible and straightforward: it doesn’t get in the way of the plot at all, but some of the characters do feel a touch disposable. Although the action is set in the USA, the main characters (and the author) are from the opposite side of the Atlantic and this is obvious in the writing style, dialogue and tone. Overall, Reviver is a thoroughly enjoyable romp which explores a genuinely intriguing idea, wrapped up inside a blockbuster plot. I suspect that it’ll be a bit tame and philosophical for diehard horror enthusiasts, and possibly a bit weird for grounded-in-reality crime-thriller readers. If you like John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series then Reviver might well appeal, although Seth Patrick’s style needs a lot more polish and practice to match Connolly’s.
So while it’s a long way short of a masterpiece, I’d be happy to read the next one from this author. The core idea is a cracker, one well worth exploring further – and the second book in what will be a trilogy is on the way…
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Reviver by Seth Patrick is available at Amazon as a print or ebook