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 12-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 12-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 hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Will Patton. At first I really didn’t like his voice at all and missed Campbell Scott’s voice. But as I started getting into it I got used to his gruffness and thought it actually worked really well with some of the members of the True Knot and with Billy Freeman.
I thought Dan’s character as an adult was spot on for what would become of his life in the aftermath of the traumatic events of the Overlook Hotel. Also, the way he wrote his recovery from alcoholism was so well written and so believable that (besides King saying it himself in the Author’s Note) I looked it up and King knows from experience! I did not know that Stephen King was a recovering alcoholic.
WARNING: NOW THE REVIEW WILL HAVE SPOILERS BELOW.
THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING!
I really loved Abra. She had a teenage spunk that I liked and wasn’t annoyed by. I especially like at the end when she was staring to show more of her temper and the consequences of what she went through.
I loved Abra’s relationship with Dan and how Dick told Dan that someday he would be someone’s teacher. Although I think Abra is also Dan’s teacher being how more powerful her Shine is. Even though I knew this already from someone who told me, I love the reveal that Dan is her uncle.
I loved all the build up of Dan’s life, Abra’s and the f’ed up True Knot killers. Rose the Hat should have suffered more for all her evil sins. I hated her like poison. She infuriated me. Also, I will never look at people in RVs the same way again.
So while the story had great character and plot development I thought the end was a bit anti-climatic. The bad guys were disposed of a bit too easily, but at the same time (although this is only my second King novel) I do feel that King does write really long books so I am glad it was not a drawn out battle at the end. I am a bit conflicted here and that is why I took a point off.
I do wish Dan had talked to the ghost of his father. Blowing a kiss at the end was not enough but my sister said King doesn’t do schmaltzy.
All in all Doctor Sleep was an excellent sequel to The Shining, but The Shining is still the best. I listened to them back to back and I feel The Shining made me jump more and I felt my skin creep more.
4 out of 5 Blackboards.