… the sequel to one of the scariest horror novels of all time? Say hello to Doctor Sleep, the newest release from Stephen King, over 40 years in the making. Obviously if there’s going to be a sequel to The Shining, there will also be high expectations. The Shining was the first Stephen King book I ever read, almost ten years ago, and it still remains one of my favorite horror novels.
Danny Torrance is now a grown man who has inherited his father’s alcoholism and who is still haunted by the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel. But now he is plagued by a new set of demons, a group of immortal beings that call themselves the True Knot and travel across the country in RV’s. The True Knot sustains themselves on the “steam” of dying children who possess the shining, and they’re going after an extremely gifted child named Abra Stone, who seems to have a mysterious connection to Danny. As the True Knot draw closer to Abra, Danny must pull himself together to save Abra, destroy the True Knot, and face his demons.
I had a hard time drawing a connection between the Danny Torrance of years past and the grown Dan Torrance of Doctor Sleep, but that’s not a flaw, just a consequence of writing a sequel 30+ years after the original story. Dan is an interesting, flawed, and ultimately likeable character who is able to confront the demons that drove his father to madness. And Abra Stone is a strong, plucky heroine with a surprising angry streak.
But the book doesn’t stray too far from the world that Stephen King created with The Shining - subtle clues and references are dropped here and there - a pleasant surprise for the diehard Shining fans, and a good way to keep Doctor Sleep anchored to its predecessor. Plus a reference to NOS4A2, the latest novel from Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, which made me deliriously happy. Overall, this was a solid if somewhat unusual horror story from a master storyteller.
Reviewed by Katie (staff)