Customer Reviews


33 Reviews
5 star:
 (10)
4 star:
 (14)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh, quirky pageturner
I couldn't stop reading this novel: I read it in bed; on the train; on the tube; under the desk at work. The funny thing is that I'm not really sure why. It wasn't because of the suspense, or the plot exactly - I just really needed to know what was going to happen.

A deliciously fresh novel that deals with some of the oldest, toughest issues: love, loss,...
Published on 24 Jan. 2009 by Gabrielle O

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Odd. Short. Not a revelation.
John the Revelator is a coming of age story reminiscent of the Wasp Factory, right down to the insect obsession but without the tight plotting and satisfactory ending. The writing is good but disjointed, and feels more like a string of short stories that are loosely collected. How else to explain the church, rubbish dump and car tryst episodes? The two central...
Published on 19 Oct. 2009 by R. M. Lindley


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh, quirky pageturner, 24 Jan. 2009
By 
This review is from: John the Revelator (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I couldn't stop reading this novel: I read it in bed; on the train; on the tube; under the desk at work. The funny thing is that I'm not really sure why. It wasn't because of the suspense, or the plot exactly - I just really needed to know what was going to happen.

A deliciously fresh novel that deals with some of the oldest, toughest issues: love, loss, family, friendship and growing up. And some others along the way, like religion, getting completely wasted, ill-advised actions, small-town politics, avoidance, betrayal, and sex. You'll have to read it to have any idea of what I'm talking about.

I ordered this book without really knowing much about it. I didn't realise that it was set in Ireland (somehow the blurb makes it sound like it could be American) and I didn't really have a sense of what it would be like. Having finished it, I still don't quite know what to make of it - like the very best writing, it works its magic in a subtle way that's hard to pin down.

But it was a great read, from the Biblical quotes to the topsy-turvy home-life of John Devine, his oddly straight-talking mother Lily and John's burgeoning intense friendship (and adventures) with James Corboy. Beautifully written - even the bits about maggots and worms are curiously fascinating (our protagonist has a keen interest in creepy crawlies of this sort - sorry to give this away but this is perhaps not a book for the squeamish!)...

Fabulous but not at all precious or affected, this book delights in avoiding easy answers and just revels in the complex glories and sadnesses of growing up.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars John the Entertaining, 13 Feb. 2015
By 
This review is from: John the Revelator (Paperback)
Up until now, I'd only ever heard of ''John the Revelator'' as a song. Judging from the several mentions of the song in the story and given that author Peter Murphy works in the music press, I suspect that's where the title of this novel came from as well. How much I enjoy the song depends on which version of it I hear, but with no such concerns with the book, I was able to enjoy it fully without worrying if someone had done a better version elsewhere that I was missing out on.

John Devine is a teenager stuck in a small Irish town with a single mother, no real friends and a rather worrying fascination for bodily parasites, mostly intestinal worms. His only human contact is with his mother Lily, Mrs Nagle, an elderly neighbour and Harry Farrell, a local jack-of-all-trades. His only break from the house and from school is Sunday Mass. Not exactly the life of your average teenage boy and not the kind of life any teenage boy would want to live.

Things start to change when Jamey Corboy comes to town. For John, Jamey opens up a world he could never have imagined, introducing him to a life outside his own house. John takes up smoking and drinking and starts growing up and having a life. As he does, however, his mother becomes more and more ill and eventually Mrs Nagle has to come and look after them both. ''John the Revelator'' is the story of John Devine growing up from being a teenager to becoming a young man and all that he discovers about himself and about life in general as this happens.

''John the Revelator'' is essentially a slice of small town Irish life as seen through the eyes of a teenage boy. As with most of life, it's pretty slow moving, but it's also surprisingly gripping. As a fan of thriller books, quite often a story with a slow pace can make me lose interest, but there was none of that here. I think it was the style of the story that kept me interested, as Murphy frequently switches between John's telling of the story, interspersed with some strange dreams he's having and often dropping in stories that Jamey has written to help illuminate the actions of some of the other characters.

The other aspect that kept me interested is that the story was very much just snippets of a life, rather than the detail, which does mean only the interesting parts are covered. Whilst this gives no real indication of how John Devine may cope with the boring parts of life, it does help speed things along. Whilst there is a lot going on, the period is quite long, so it never feels that Murphy is giving John Devine too much that would be unrealistic. Everything he goes through, with his mother's illness, events with Jamey and even the sometimes strange dreams John Devine has, seem perfectly plausible and very real and this is much of the appeal of the story. Every adult was once a teenager and the process of growing up is one of discovery. In John Devine, Peter Murphy has created a character who explores himself and who we can sympathise with entirely, largely because we can possibly remember a time when we were much like John Devine.

Part of the enjoyment certainly comes from Murphy's writing style. He's not a particularly visual writer, but he is a very emotional writer. So whilst you don't always get a clear idea of what the characters and locations may look like, you do get a very clear picture of what they're feeling. Given that your average teenager is a ball of hormones as they grow up, this is far more important. John Devine goes through many emotional experiences as his life changes virtually completely from one end of the story to the other and you get to feel every one of them.

I enjoyed "John the Revelator" a lot more than I'd expected to after the early pages. Once it had passed the opening where we were meeting John Devine for the first time and I'd settled into the slow pace of the story, I suddenly found myself gripped by the tale. The amount of emotion shown and the interesting changes of pace provided by Jamey's stories made for a wonderful combination and I found myself reading huge chunks of the story at a time. It didn't suck me in as completely as Donna Milner's ''After River'', but it's still an emotional and engrossing read.

This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Falls short of a revelation, but not by too far., 14 Mar. 2010
By 
Mingo Bingo "Mingobingo" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: John the Revelator (Paperback)
Quirky is an overused catch all phrase nowadays. If something doesn't fit exactly within the confines of a genre then it is inevitably called quirky. So, to label this book quirky seems somewhat glib and easy, but that would be an accurate description.

John the Revelator is in many ways your standard coming of age tale; a disenfranchised young man, an outsider, a small community, a strange family, a smattering of drink and drugs. So far, so familiar. But when you add in an obsession with insects, a hint of the supernatural and biblical undertones you start to get something a little bit out of the ordinary.

John lives in a small Irish village with his heavy smoking and bible-quoting mother. He is haunted by dreams of crows and the end of the world and withdraws from the community about him.

When James Corboy arrives in town John spies a kindred spirit and is gravitated towards the newcomer. As their normal teenage behaviour spirals into something altogether more sinister, and John's dreams become increasingly vivid, his mother's health steadily fails and John is faced with a life changing choice.

John the Revelator is hugely reminiscent of the Wasp Factory in tone and style, and it is impossible to read this book without making that unfavorable comparison, but there is still plenty to enjoy about it.

In places the writing is delicious and Peter Murphy exhibits a real understanding of the alienation and confusion of the teenage years. Throughout, the text is suffused with a dark humour and a sense of unease, and it is that which elevates this book above the norm.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars "They'll kill you son. Give `em up while you can.", 3 Oct. 2009
This review is from: John the Revelator (Paperback)
In this story if a young boy coming of age, John Devine grows from childhood to adolescence in the Irish town of Kilcody. Born in a storm, his mother said the thunder was so loud she flinched when it struck. Treated as a typical boy, Gabriel realizes what is expected of him as his kindly mother cleans people's houses and sometimes takes in clothes to be washed or mended in order to make ends meet. A heavy smoker who likes to sit me the fire and read her Westerns, she silently becomes detached from the world around her. John in turn is confused by the mixed messages she sends, seeking solace in books including "Harper's Compendium of Bizarre Nature Facts" which established John's preoccupation with worms and parasites. In the midst of a visit from by his mother's friend Mrs. Nagle a square old bird and the only one who could help him, John meets and befriends the eccentric Jamey Corboy the market square with his black jeans and army boots, floppy hair raked back from a high forehead. A blow-in from Ballo town, Jamey is a loner who sits in the school-shelter writing in a spiral notebook, but he's from a good family and lived in a nice house. Literate and ironic, Jamey enthralls Johns with his stories, passing him copies of books by Rimbaud, and Dante.

When Jamie, hell bent on celebrating the end of his exams, drags John to a disco at the Rugby club, the hyperactive rhythms pounds from the sound system, and for the first time there is something about the music and about Jamie that is dangerous to John. If he isn't careful, the music and indeed Jamey might overwhelm his senses and swallow him up. Even as his mother, the smoke around her head like some "dissipating halo," tells John to stay away from that Jamey Corboy, Dee, Jamie's mother is just thankful that Jamie has made a friend here. A drunken night on the Chapel,, And then a black out, fragments of dream and memory began to detach themselves from the murk and float to the surface horrible as jumbled bits of bodies. Unfortunately, the evidence left on Jamey's camcorder and in a fit of anxiety John betrays his friend. Not to worry though - Jamey takes it all in his stride. When he walks away from John it feels as though something inside him died, "like I was a twin whose body had absorbed that of its brother, and now he lived in me."

Meanwhile, John's mother takes to her bed. All day long and most of the night she slept, each sickly hour that passed seemed to suck the life from her body until she shrinks beneath the sheets. And Mrs. Nagle with her boxes of chocolates and sickly perfume, endlessly intuits herself into John's life. Certainly, John's rite-of-passage into adolescence is riddled with sexual experiences and a fair amount of anxiety. He does his best to handle his betrayal of Jamey, terrified that there will be some sort of recompense for his folly. John is an imaginative boy, but also impressionable flawed and he doesn't know how to fix the situation with his mother. Throughout, Murphy's tone is lightweight as John confronts life's various challenges. The fields and the whispering woods, are beautifully rendered even as John mostly feels as though he could just vanish into the will-o-the-wisp, becoming a ghost drifting through the narrow laneways. The author does a fine job of showing John's confusion, denial and eventual acceptance of his mother's fate and of his friend Jamie who continues to enthrall him with stories. When the "old crow" eventually wings towards him across the sea, casting a "vast galleon shadow" the sunshine, the light, and the remnants of the storm, her mother's face appears and her body is restored to its fullness, Gradually, John imagines a different life Of course his life as he knows it will be forever altered, but the epiphany provides a final opportunity to say goodbye. Mike Leonard October 2008.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars "Nature's pretty twisted.", 14 Aug. 2009
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: John the Revelator (Paperback)
An "Irish gothic" novel with dark, religious overtones, JOHN THE REVELATOR is set in rural southeast Ireland, where the author himself grew up. The "revelator" of the title, "someone who reveals divine will," is a boy named John Devine, for the "beloved disciple," the only one of the apostles who escaped martyrdom, and the patron saint of writing. Born to an exceptionally religious single mother, a house cleaner, John's childhood seems relatively normal, despite his poverty, though he is pre-occupied with worms. He has nightmares in which he combines his daily life and his worries into horrific tales involving crows. By the age of fifteen, however, John is "content with his own company," and not terribly rebellious.

It is not until he meets Jamey Corboy, a sixteen-year-old, that he develops a real friendship. Jamey, far more adventurous, introduces John to heavy drinking, smoking, and a willingness to flout convention. Hanging out with bikers and toughs, Jamey has participated in a robbery, but he is also an intellectual and a fine creative writer who shares his full-length stories with John and the reader. Often scatological in tone, they reflect the spirit of Rimbaud, Jamie's favorite author, who produced his best-known work while still a teenager. Jamey plans to make a film called "Merde a Dieu."

At this point, halfway through the book, John resembles teenagers around the world, though perhaps a bit more introspective. The novel, until now, is well organized and exceptionally well written, with unique characters and a setting which allows the author to plumb the myths, folklore, and beliefs of rural Ireland. Every detail counts and relates to every other detail, and the author obviously has a big picture in mind for his themes. The turning point, however, suddenly introduces dramatic new elements which many readers will not be prepared for--changing what might have been an unusual coming-of-age novel with a provocative setting into a fast-paced horror novel, filled with violent details which many readers will find revolting.

The novel suffers significantly, in my opinion, from this shift in tone. Though the author does try to keep his themes (especially the spiritual vs. the profane) intact as his teenage characters and their families suffer through crises, the book ultimately lacks coherence. It divides into two seemingly separate genres with little correlation between them except for the superficial identities of the characters, the setting, and the author's motifs. Significantly, one of the characters does not remember anything that happens during the turning point, in which he participates, perhaps a way "out" for the author, who would have had a difficult time justifying this unexpected shift in character development, point of view, and tone. Parts of the book are unforgettable, and author Peter Murphy has aimed high, with important themes, vibrant imagery, unique characters, and local color galore. I just wish that the second half of the book had been as tight and well integrated as the first half and that the author had developed his characters more fully before he included a crisis point that seemed to come almost from out of the blue. n Mary Whipple
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars I Actually Loved This Book, 7 Mar. 2009
By 
Caleb Williams (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: John the Revelator (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Well looking at it without opening it, you would think this would be a very quick read with not much depth and story telling. But it was genuinely one book that I enjoyed thoroughly and could go through it and easily encase myself in the world of John Devine, thanks to the relationship depicted between him and his mother. Not only that but the relationship between him and the catalyst best friend Jamey Corboy is something I can relate to my own life, thanks to the reality of their human nature reflective of this day and age.

The setting is in the fictional town of Kilcody and focuses around John Devine who is born into a life of mediocrity with highly religious single mum Lily. As he reaches his teens he starts being haunted by spooky apocalyptic dreams and makes a friend by the name of Jamey who leads him down a dangerous path leading to a series of events that make John even more confused about his current situation. The unpredictable outbursts and frightening dreams could just be an affect of a young man growing up, or they could be John hiding the fact that he has to deal with his mothers deteriorating health.

The book itself takes a bit to get going and at times becomes a bit dull and confusing, but as I progressed through it, the story came together and I found myself gaining a better understanding of the main characters. In fact as it does progress, we come to know so much about Lily that the story does truly almost become about her and I certainly did come to find her more interesting as I came to the end of the story. The friend, Jamey is also an extremely interesting character as he's not the typical ragamuffin as although he mixes with the wrong crowds and manages to get into some serious trouble, he is an aspiring writer and one of a polite nature as Lily finds out.

The book is filled with characters that we can all relate to and seem so real on paper, especially that of the main characters and the additional Mrs. Nagle and Har are characters I can label in my own life. The interfering Mrs. Nagle is the representation of one of my mother's friends, full of gossip and lies just to pass the time and Har is a friend of my grandmothers, who spends most of his time working odd jobs to earn money to blow on booze down the pub. The relationship between John and his mother is one I share with my mother who I love hearing her tell me stories of people she has met or also loves a good gossip. She isn't one bit religious, however, and the relationship with Jamey reminds me of a friendship from when I was a teenager (the less said about that the better).

After the slow start, this book does develop into a genuinely entertaining and heart warming fictional tale. The characters are thoroughly developed and their situation is genuinely tragic. You're not given any answers, you have to work them out from what you're told about the events and it's left up to you about your opinions of the characters. Is John a well meaning loving kid who just accidentally ends up in a few scrapes with his equally well intentioned friend Jamey? Or. Are the pair of them typical yobs who deserve locking away and his mother putting in a home to rot?

I loved it, and I know the majority of you will too, so buy it
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars The boy in the bubble, 6 Mar. 2009
By 
Cat Mac "tagatha" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: John the Revelator (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
"I was born in a storm" the front cover of Peter Murphy's novel proclaims - and sure enough that's the mood of the book. You get this really claustrophobic feeling of the pre-storm where everything is within touching distance, everything seems larger somehow, then you get the flashes of clarity and sense where the lightning strikes, but most of the time you get the dark, clouded and slightly threatening pouring rain.

Set in the fictional town of Kilcody, John Devine (the revelator of the title) is a coddled, introverted boy who has been raised by his mother-with-issues Lily to not ask questions and just accept things he's told by her as fact. He doesn't socialise with kids his age, and finds solace in knowing endless facts about intestinal parasites.

So when this awkward and slightly troubled kid runs into the human whirlwind Jamey Corboy, he finds not only his soul mate, but his hero. He aspires to be as cool as he finds Jamey to be, and as a result the pair of them enjoy a status of twin outcasts.

A strange sort of coming of age tale winds through the issues of friendship, growing up, death, love and the human condition - but nothing like as twee as I just made it sound! John's view of the world is so off kilter that the book isn't what you'd call a comfortable read, in fact in certain places it's downright disturbing, but there is something in the black humour, the turn of phrase and the not-overdone use of description that makes this a pretty special little book.

It won't take you long to devour it at around 250 pages, but be aware that it's not all laughs!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worm obsession!, 9 April 2009
By 
kehs (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: John the Revelator (Paperback)
An amazingingly compelling read that covers a whole range of topics, amongst them being love, loss, religion, betrayal , humour, and sadness. Set in Ireland it made a wonderful quirky read that for me was a page turner that I couldn't put down until I'd finished it. There are some slightly queezy passages about John's weird obsession with worms and maggots, but they are strangely fascinating, too. I loved this book but have a feeling it is going to be one of those 'Marmite' reads and will have a varied response from its readers.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative, moving and immensely enjoyable, 18 Jan. 2009
By 
Benjamin (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: John the Revelator (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I started to read this as I sat down to my lunch; that was a mistake, the narrator John Devine is fascinated by worms and parasites and provides in the opening pages many a lurid description of the subject of his interest. John Devine lives with his mother in the house she inherited from her parents. He is something of a loner but feels hemmed in by the Irish small town attitudes. When John is in his sixteenth year the hip and articulate Jamie moves into town and makes a friend of John on the spot, instantly confiding in him. John's life is suddenly opened up by this new friendship.

But John has his problems to cope with, a bombastic domineering local spinster, Mrs Nagle, intent on moving into and taking over John's and his mother's life; a local and possibly corrupt Guard officer; and some local heavies with criminal tendencies. He has to cope also with his own inner turmoil, troubled by dreams dominated by a large black bird, an old crow; what does it mean? But his biggest worry is his chain smoking mother's failing health, and as he tries to care for her needs he gradually learns of her past, and his origins.

The story covers John's life from his very early years to his mid teens; it is eloquently told and beautifully conjures the troubles of youth. Into the fabric of the main story Murphy ingeniously interweaves other short or very short stories. John quickly engenders one's empathy, and as the story entwines and unfolds towards its mournful yet ultimately positive conclusion one's heart will ache for our young hero.

I did not much enjoy my lunch, but I did immensely enjoy John the Revelator; its humour, its re-creation of small town Ireland, its portrayal of friendship, but above all its evocation of the turmoil of youth.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A solid, compelling debut, 4 July 2010
By 
Eddie (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: John the Revelator (Paperback)
This is a compelling first novel which deserved its place on last year's Costa First Novel Award shortlist.

It's a story that centres on ideas of love, family and betrayal, and it's the narrator's voice that allows Murphy to make these subjects quirky. The voice is that of an introverted adolescent, an outsider watching the world. Marooned in a tiny town, fussed over by his lonely, chain-smoking mother, John is looking for an escape route. Then Jamey Corboy arrives in town, and suddenly John is torn between his attachments to his old life and the possibilities of a new one ...

The child narrator presented with a coming of age moment is a well-trodden path. This may not be the best novel of its kind, but as a fan of debut fiction I'm always on the lookout for new voices and there is something natural, well paced and balanced in Murphy's prose. One to watch, I'd say.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

John the Revelator
John the Revelator by Peter Murphy (MP3 CD - April 2010)
Used & New from: £34.84
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews