Doctor Sleep by Stephen King Review

Doctor Sleep: A Novel (The Shining)
by Stephen King
544 Pages
Published by Scriber, September 24, 2013
Genre: Horror, Suspense, Paranormal

Reviewed by Hilarie Joy

Stephen King returns to the character and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance 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 this icon in the King canon.

Doctor Sleep is an amazing story that can easily stand alone, but if you've enjoyed the Shining (even ten years ago, as did I), it feels like catching up with an old friend. Little Danny Torrance is now Dan, or as his hospice coworkers have named him, Doctor Sleep for his ability to help hospice patients to pass to the other side peacefully. Dan is now in his 30's and his story picks up just before his "rock bottom" moment before he's urged by his boss to join AA. Instead of drowning out his "shine" with booze, he's forced to face it head on. He comes into contact with Abra Stone who is a lighthouse to his flashlight of a shine when she reaches out to him telepathically at only a few months old.

Meanwhile, a roving gang of paranormal vampires called the True Knot torture and kill children with the shine to absorb their "steam" and live forever. Rose the Hat picks up on Abra from the other side of the country and is starving for her steam. Dan helps guide Abra and become the leader in a team of bodyguards that seek to protect Abra and stop the True Knot's killing spree once and for all.

As always, Stephen King weaves a wonderful story with amazing characters that ground his fantasy in the real world. Catching up with Danny Torrence becomes the adventure of a lifetime with sacrifice, friendship, faith, love and strength through personal struggles.

Stephen King battled alcoholism in early life just as Jack Torrence did in the Shining. This continuation of that saga allowed him to find his way out of the darkness through Dan Torrence. Though Dan’s story starts out in his true rock bottom, he finds his way out one day at a time. By integrating Dan’s alcoholic journey with his quest to protect Abra, Stephen King has succeeded once again in flawlessly blending his fantasy world with real, flawed, amazing characters.

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