Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Publisher: Gallery Books, Scribner
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (531 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

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.

One word: gripping. Oh, and I will NEVER look at a caravan of RVs the same way ever again.

I really liked The Shining. I did. It scared the bejesus out of me.  Doctor Sleep follows Dan, the little boy from The Shining. He’s now all grown up and bearing scars of his own. He’s still got the shining, but with those adult experiences and situations, he’s a different kind of man. And he’s about to meet a girl who not only matches him, but outdoes him with the shining.

I love the work of Stephen King. But I go in with my eyes wide open. I know there will be sputters and potholes along the way. This book isn’t one of those sputters. The writing clicks along at a good pace and ensnared me in the story. When I had to put the book down, I didn’t want to. It’s that gripping.

Now, about those RVs. The True Knot, the people wanting to consume the steam created from the people with the shining, drive around all day in these RVs. No one notices them because, well, big hulking RVs are everywhere on the highway. I’m not sure if King was going for a parallel to danger being all over the place but hard to spot because we see it all the time, but if he was, kudos. Just that part alone got me thinking. Danger really is everywhere and in the most benign locations. Oh and watch out for the lady in the hat. Yikes.

I liked the characters of Abra and Dan. Honestly, I liked the little boy back in The Shining. But boy, did that kid go through some crap. Wow. I’m glad King returned to this character and let the readers see what he’s been up to. Dan Torrance, the redrum kid, is not Doctor Sleep. Along with a cat named Azzie, he works at a hospice facility (or as Abra calls it, the hot spice facility). When the patients are about to expire, the cat always knows and tells the staff. I loved this angle. Dan, then goes in and assists the patient. Now some might consider this a downer. It is, but I liked how King shows Dan’s softer side – now that he’s had the hard edges worn down.

Then there’s Abra. Yes, like Abracadabra. An interesting name for an interesting little girl. She’s got the shining, but on high voltage. She sees things though the eyes of others and can reach out to Dan through the chalk board. Sounds bizarre? It gets better. The True Knot want this girl. Like REALLY want her. I liked her. She’s spunky and quirky. She’s got a mind of her own and even though she’s still a kid, she’s smart. I wanted to see her come out on top.

Are you intrigued? You should be. The horrific parts of the book deliver. Definitely some seat-squirming. But there is a heart to this story and it’s one that shouldn’t be missed.

If you want a book that will haunt you, make you think, oh and make you want to keep the light on at night, then this might be the book for you. Recommended.

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