Doctor Sleep

Stephen King
Doctor Sleep Cover

Doctor Sleep


What happens when a child is experiences a supernatural horror so extreme it boggles the mind? If that character is Danny Torrance and the author is Stephen King, the result is the novel Doctor Sleep. This novel is the sequel to Mr. Kings acclaimed horror novel The Shining.

The novel starts off in the years after the overlook hotel burns and Dan and Wendy move to Florida. Even though the hotel is gone, the restless spirits are not, and still visit Danny. Dick Halloran shows Danny a way capture and close off these spirits in his mind. We are next introduced to the "True Knot" a group of travelers who are a type of vampire, living off the essence of children with the shining. Although they look like middle age "motorhome parents", they are in fact hundreds of years old. They procure the essence of children with the shine by torturing them. They only want the shine of children because it is the purest.

Jump ahead several years, Wendy is dead. Dan is now an adult. He has been an alcoholic and drug addict for years and has been moving from town to town. Getting into fights and when sober and able to hold down a job, has been working as an aide in nursing homes where he sometimes helps the elderly patients cross over when it is time to die. Nothing "Jack Kevorkian" or "angel of Death", he does not kill them, just eases the transition. When he finally hits rock bottom, Dan ends up in Frazier New Hampshire, where he finally gets sober with the help of people who are destined to become friends to Dan. He also starts getting shine messages from a little girl by the name of Abra. Abra and Dan's lives start to intertwine on deeper and deeper levels until they are forced to meet the "true Knot" in a battle that will determine the destiny of both of them.

Now I did have one problem with this novel. I kept getting this annoying little niggle in that kept saying, you have seen these true knot people in something else he wrote, Than it struck me. It reminded me very much of the "Sleepwalkers" from his 1992 movie "Sleepwalkers". Now these were cat people, but they also had to suck the essence from young people, in the movie it was virgins. But I guess if I had written 60 something novels and screenplays, I might start to repeat myself.

As Doctor Sleep is a sequel to The Shinning, it would be impossible to not compare the two. What struck me most about the novel is the different tone the two novel have. The Shinning screams at the reader with its brutality and horror. Doctor Sleep whispers in the readers' ear like a lover. In The Shinning, victory over evil can only be achieved by blood and sacrifice. Doctor Sleep says that honor and love can also beat evil. I think this has to do with where Mr. King was in his life when he wrote these novels.

It was clear to me as a reader that this set of books are about as autobiographical novel as we are going to see in a fiction work by Stephen King. Mr. King has made no secret, that for most of the 80's and into the 90's, he suffered from both alcohol and drag addiction, and that he used his writing as a way to temper the anger and hostility he felt towards his family. After reading this, I saw The Shining for what it was, a man in the throes of addiction battling demons. Doctor Sleep in contrast shows a man who has come to accept his demons and to overcome them with the help of family and friends.

I truly loved the hopeful theme; the idea of redemption that flows throughout this story. Mr. King was clearly in a better place when he wrote Doctor Sleep. It was refreshing for me to feel good at the end of the story. Let's face it, sometimes Stephen King can be a downer!

The novel itself is one of the best novels By Stephen King that I have read in a long time. This being said I have to admit that I quit reading him after I finished reading Under the Dome. I just thought he had gone to such a dark place. I'm glad I read this novel. And I hope that as The Shinning was a written cry for help that Doctor Sleep is the proof that help was given and received.

4 of 5 stars