by Stephen King
Series: The Shining #2
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 am a huge fan of Stephen King and can remember the first time I read The Shining. I was in junior high at the end of sixth grade and had been devouring King’s books. The Shining both terrified me and enthralled me, so when I learned we would be revisiting the little boy Dan Torrance as a middle age man I was all sorts of excited. Doctor Sleep held me captive from the first page, and while it did not scare me like the first, I found myself again impressed with King’s ability to weave an incredible tale. Three word review: captivating, suspenseful and worthy of a reread.
King weaves several threads together as we meet up with Dan Torrance as a child, and then fast forward to him as a struggling adult. We also meet a group known as the “True Knot.” They travel as a group across America in RV’s as they search of substance. We also dip into the life of Abra Stone, growing with her from an infant to snarky twelve year old. The True Knot feed on the “steam” of children or as Dick Halloran referred to it in The Shining the “shining.” The tale that unfolds was weaves these stories together keeping the reader on the edge of their seat.
I have said this before, but it is worth mentioning again; King is the master of flawed, quirky characters that draw the reader in. Dan is all grown up, struggling and still struggling with the shine. I still see the little boy in this complicated man and loved watching him transform throughout the novel. My feelings for him were like those of a parent; sometimes I wanted to hug him and other times send him to his room. Abra Stone is a brave little warrior whom I adored her. For all of Dan’s darkness, she is light. I loved watching them interact and felt their connection. Rose the leader of the True Knot was a perfect villain and King described her perfectly bringing her to life before my eyes. Even the secondary characters impressed me in this tale and added depth to the story.
Doctor Sleep was brilliant, and I am so glad King chose to listen to that inner voice that kept asking “what if.” I am not going to share any details as I fear spoilers. The world was fleshed out, and my understanding of the “shine” clearer. All of the different POV’s and their interaction to one another made this tale incredible and suspenseful. While I was not scared, after all I am no longer a twelve year old, reading this in bed with a flashlight, but I got the shivers once or twice. The tale unfolds at an incredible pace, with moments of tension, and then a slowing as we gained insight. All of the voices and threads came together to propel us towards the climatic ending. I loved King’s descriptive voice as he brought both the characters and the world to life. The tale unfolding like a movie in my head and I achieved that book high I crave, losing myself within its pages.
For fans of King and the Shining, Doctor Sleep is not to be missed. Before picking this up, clear your schedule as I can assure you, you will not be able to put it down. A thrilling page turner, King, has done it again.
Four and half cups of coffee out of five
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