Title: Doctor Sleep (The Shinning #2)
Author: Stephen King
Book procurement: Purchased from Exclusive Books – Greenstone Mall.
Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever,The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.
On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.
Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”
Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.
I’ve read a number of King books through the years, and this was the first one I had to consider twice when reading at night. It wasn’t necessarily scary but it had its moments where paranoia creeped up on me faster than you can say Abracadabra. I still expect dead people to just show up in my bath.
The story starts off after the events from The Shining, when little Danny is revisited by ghosts of his past and realizes that his past will always be a part of him. We fast forward to an older Dan struggling with alcoholism, fighting the “shine” that still sparkles within him and his eventual sobering up at an AA that all links back together in a typical Stephen King fashion. There are no such things as coincidences with this man.
King is the master of characterization. I can imagine each of the characters in the book and won’t even need to read a name to know who is who. As usual. We have young Abra, who is a feisty, strong young girl with quite a “shine”, we have Dan whose shine get’s him the name Doctor Sleep, and we have the travelling band of “shine vampires” known as the True Knot who go around collecting “steam” from children who have the shine. Then there are plenty dots of characters thrown in the mix to help better understand who Dan Torrance, Abra Stone and the True Knot are. Each with their own characteristics and vital roles to play in the story.
In terms of writing, it’s all typical King. Vivid characters with identifiable attributes that I was able to visualise clearly in my mind. Worldbuilding at it’s finest, travelling across America through the eyes of Danny and the True Knot to experience the landscape. Flashes of The Shining in various places, and the passage of time that King’s recent books use (Revival comes to mind).
Once again, ordinary folks in extraordinary circumstances have been written into chilling reality by the King of horror.
Rating: A sleepless 4 out of 5