For those who do not already know this, I am a die-hard fan of The Shining – the Stanley Kubrick film, the mini-series and of course, the one that started it all – the novel by Stephen King. Having just completed my last semester of undergrad, I finally had a chance to read the novel’s sequel, Doctor Sleep and it is almost as amazing as its predecessor!
Although Stephen King always was and still is one of my favorite horror authors, his recent books (in my opinion) have not been as good as his earlier works. That having been said, I had my doubts about Doctor Sleep, but had to read it to find out what happened to Danny Torrance after his childhood battle with the evil forces at the Overlook Hotel. Much to my surprise, the sequel was incredible! I am not going to compare it to The Shining, which is a very difficult act to follow, but I will say that Doctor Sleep stands on its own as a unique and creative work of horror.
The book picks up around where its predecessor leaves off. A brief description is given of Danny’s life soon after the Overlook fiasco and then the novel shifts to Dan’s adult life. Despite his best efforts not to follow in his father’s footsteps, Dan turns to alcohol to suppress the awful visions that his ability subjects him to. While attempting to kick the habit, he moves to a new town and works as an orderly in a hospice. He uses his special ability to ease the patients’ transitions into death, earning him the nickname “Doctor Sleep.” Among the new characters introduced is a young girl named Abra, who has an ability similar to Dan’s, but even more powerful. Eventually, the paths of the two cross and the pair join together in a battle against an immortal, nomadic cult known as The True Knot: a group of people with abilities akin to the shining, that tortures and kills children who shine in order to sustain themselves by feeding off the “steam” that emanates from the children as they are tortured. The cult is led by Rose the Hat, who proves to be a unique, formidable and extremely disturbing villain.
The novel is the perfect marriage of old and new. The plot is unique and different from that of its predecessor, but the novel does bring back some beloved characters and locations from The Shining. Overall, Doctor Sleep is well worth reading and although I would not say that it is as good as the original, it is pretty darn close and is certainly one of King’s better contemporary works. The book is captivating, exciting and suspenseful throughout and has several unexpected twists and turns.
The bottom line: Doctor Sleep is a unique, original work that is well worth the read. If you love The Shining, you’ll love this one, too!