What’s it all about?:
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.
What did I think?:
Okay, so I know my previous review was also a Stephen King story, but I have to defend myself! First, it’s the most anticipated sequel to King’s classic, terrifying story The Shining, which was also adapted for film by Stanley Kubrick with a memorable performance by Jack Nicholson playing doomed alcoholic Jack Torrance. Second, it’s Stephen King. Enough said. The sequel, Dr Sleep, kicks off with a grown-up Dan Torrance (Jack’s son), who unfortunately has inherited his father’s dependence on alcohol. This is mainly to block out the strange visions that he experiences as part of his “shining” gift/curse. Old ghosts from his time in the Overlook hotel return to haunt him, (cue the old lady in the bathtub…urgh), along with being able to read people’s minds and he uses the alcohol to block these things out, praying they will go away. One day after a particularly heavy night, he decides to stop in one particular New Hampshire town, and finds there friendship, support, AA, and a job in a hospice where he is given the title Dr Sleep, for his strange abilities to help those residents near to death.
Dan seems to find his purpose in life through his work in the hospice, and when he connects with a young girl called Abra, who also has “the shining.” She begs for his help concerning some terrifying incidents involving children going missing. These children are also “shiners” in their own way, and are feeding a group of hungry sub-human individuals who torture their victims to produce a sort of “steam” which they feed from, before killing the child. The problem is, they have now detected Abra, who because of the strength of her powers, seems to be the perfect victim to keep them alive indefinitely. Dan and Abra must unite together to stop these people, before they can kill more children, and before they can get to Abra.
I am starting to believe that Stephen King has special powers. He always manages to pull me into his world, terrify and delight me, and leave me slightly bereft when I finish. This is definitely another of those books that I won’t forget in a hurry. The premise is fantastic and the characters memorable and exciting. I loved the older Dan Torrance fighting the same war with alcohol that his father had, and how he overcomes his issues and embraces the gift he is given. The relationship between Dan and Abra is touching, and left me with a lump in my throat on more than one occasion. King also has a talent for writing incredibly compelling villains – Rose, the leader of the True Knot, is fantastically evil, and as with all King’s characters, I could picture her completely, his use of imagery is so intense. A few times I did wonder about Wendy Torrance, Dan’s mother, and would have liked a bit more about her and how she coped after the Overlook incidents. Perhaps Stephen King was so shocked about how Stanley Kubrick portrayed this character in the film (wet and wimpy?) that he couldn’t re-visit her? Anyway, for any King fans, I recommend this book whole-heartedly, and for anyone new to King… what are you waiting for?!
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):