Thursday 26 September 2013

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep (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.


Doctor Sleep begins a few years on from when The Shining finished; Danny Torrance is living with his Mum Wendy, still seeing ghosts from the Overlook and in contact with Dick Hallorann. It then jumps forward to when he is an adult; he is now known as Dan and things aren't going well for him, he is following in his Dad's footsteps and is an alcoholic. He ends up in Frazier, a small New Hampshire town, makes friends, joins AA to get help with his drinking.  Dan starts working in a hospice where he's given the nickname Doctor Sleep because he sits and comforts the dying at the end of their lives. He is contacted by Abra, a girl with a very strong Shining, even stronger than Dan had when he was a boy. However there are a group of people who call themselves the True Knot, who are on constant lookout for children like Abra, children they can torture and murder so they can get hold of their Steam to help them live for ever. They've found out about her and she's going to need Dan's help if she's to survive.

Doctor Sleep differs to its predecessor in that although there are scares in the story it isn't an out and out horror but more of a thriller. Where Stephen King excels in this as well as many of his other books is with his characterisations and the quality of his storytelling. I received and started reading this on the publication day and struggled to put it down, it grips you straight away with no overlong build up or need for better editing, which King has been guilty of in the past. If you haven't read The Shining it's not essential but I recommend you do so first just for Dan's back story and no, watching the film doesn't count. For what it's worth I enjoyed the film and it works as a standalone but it's very different to the book.

Stephen King is one of my favourite authors so when it was announced he was writing a follow up to his 1977 novel The Shining I was obviously more than a little excited. A common problem when you really look forward to something is that it can often fail to live up to expectations, I'm pleased to say this wasn't the case for Doctor Sleep and it was worth the long wait.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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