Summary and book reviews of John the Revelator by Peter Murphy

John the Revelator

A Novel

by Peter Murphy

John the Revelator
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2009, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2010, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

This is the story of John Devine — stuck in a small town in the eerie landscape of Southeast Ireland, worried over by his single, chain-smoking, bible-quoting mother. Suffused with family secrets, eerie imagery, black humor, and hypnotic prose, John the Revelator is a novel to fall in love with and an astounding debut.

This is the story of John Devine — stuck in a small town in the eerie landscape of Southeast Ireland, worried over by his single, chain-smoking, bible-quoting mother, Lily, and spied on by the "neighborly" Mrs. Nagle. When Jamey Corboy, a self-styled Rimbaudian boy wonder, arrives in town, John’s life suddenly seems full of possibility. His loneliness dissipates. He is taken up by mischief and discovery, hiding in the world beyond as Lily’s mysterious illness worsens. But Jamey and John’s nose for trouble may be their undoing and soon John will be faced with a terrible moral dilemma. Joining the ranks of the great novels of friendship and betrayal — A Separate Peace, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha John the Revelator grapples with the pull of the world and the hold of those we love. Suffused with family secrets, eerie imagery, black humor, and hypnotic prose, John the Revelator is a novel to fall in love with and an astounding debut.

Excerpt
John the Revelator

I was born in a storm. My mother said the thunder was so loud she flinched when it struck, strobes of lightning and slam-dancing winds and volleys of rain for hours until it blew itself out and sloped off like a spent beast.

'I knew you were a boy,' she said. 'Heartburn. Sure sign of a man in your life.'

My name is John Devine. I was christened after the beloved disciple, the brother of James the Great. Our Lord called them the sons of thunder.

'John was Jesus' favourite,' my mother told me. 'The patron saint of printers and tanners and typesetters.'

When she got started on this, it could go on for hours. We were out walking the fields at the back of our house. I was still in short trousers. My mother strode ahead, hell bent on where she was going, and I had to trot to keep up.

'He was the only one to stay awake in the garden while Our Lord sweated blood,' she said. 'After the crucifixion, the emperor brought him to Rome to be flogged and beaten and ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction
Stuck in a small town in the otherworldly landscape of southeast Ireland, John Devine lives in a tiny house worried over by his single, chain-smoking, Bible-quoting mother, Lily, and spied on by the "neighborly" Mrs. Nagle. When Jamey Corboy, a self-styled Rimbaudian boy wonder, arrives in town, John's life suddenly seems full of possibility. His loneliness dissipates. He is taken up by mischief and discovery, hiding in the world beyond as Lily's mysterious illness worsens. But Jamey and John's nose for trouble may be their undoing, and soon John will be faced with a terrible moral dilemma.

Discussion Points

  1. This novel is a wondrous mix of biblical mythology, science, and dark ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

John the Revelator will undoubtedly garner rave critical reviews, but the reading public will likely have a wide range of opinions on whether or not it's worth perusing. I can't even categorically state that this is one of those books readers will either love or hate; Murphy's writing is so distinctive that reader ratings will almost certainly run the full spectrum. The novel should appeal most to those who revel in quality writing and enjoy books that break the mold.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review Members Only (603 words).

Media Reviews

Sunday Tribune

Murphy has a very obvious affection for language, and for the crackle, spark and music of words....in John Devine he avoids the obvious and trite and creates an obliquely fascinating character.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Murphy understands the gracelessness of teenage boys and that peculiar delinquent wisdom shared by all the great coming-of-age novelists. With this novel, he doesn't have to bow to any of them.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Beautifully humane and sometimes nightmarish, this incredible debut novel by a noted music and culture editor, journalist, and critic recounts the life and times of John Devine

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. [A] jaw-dropping debut...A terrific, disquieting addition to the long tradition of Irish storytelling.

The Guardian (UK)

An Irish music writer, Peter Murphy casts his debut novel like a blues noir, steeped in the music that has clearly inspired him....this spook-filled Irish landscape, rendered with gouts of blood-red humour, is entirely his own.

Daily Express (UK)

Murphy writes spare arresting prose with the brio of Ireland's current literary star Anne Enright and he has the ear for dialogue of Roddy Doyle.

The Times (UK)

Murphy's writing is resolutely unsentimental, but so moving and powerful that the end had me weeping buckets.

The Daily Mail (UK)

Murphy's eerily atmospheric debut .... with its dark humour and hypnotic prose, brilliantly captures the uncertainties of growing up."

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

John The Revelator, The Person
The title of Peter Murphy's book is taken from a traditional song about John of Patmos, the name given to the author of the biblical Book of Revelation, who identifies himself as living on the Greek island of Patmos. Scholars date Revelation to between AD 54 and 96 with most believing it to have been written around AD 95.

In the 2nd century AD, the early Christian apologist Justin of Caesarea (later Saint Justin Martyr) suggested that the author of Revelation was the same person as both Jesus' apostle, "John the Beloved", and "John the Evangelist", author of The Gospel of John. But, around the 3rd century this was called into question by church historians who identified the author of ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked John the Revelator, try these:

  • Illuminations jacket

    Illuminations

    by Mary Sharratt

    Published 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Skillfully interweaving historical fact with psychological insight and vivid imagination, Sharratt's redemptive novel, Illuminations, brings to life one of the most extraordinary women of the Middle Ages: Hildegard von Bingen, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath.

  • The House of Tomorrow jacket

    The House of Tomorrow

    by Peter Bognanni

    Published 2011

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Wholly original, The House of Tomorrow is the story of a young man's self-discovery, a dying woman's last wish, and a band of misfits trying desperately to be heard.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: All We Have Left
    All We Have Left
    by Wendy Mills
    September 11, 2001 is a date that few Americans will ever forget. It was on this day that our ...
  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Most of us who turn to any subject we love remember some morning or evening hour when...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.