Book Review: Doctor Sleep

Thursday 16 October 2014 by

Doctor Sleep, Book, Stephen King, Hodder & StoughtonDoctor Sleep by Stephen King

Published by Hodder & Stoughton

Following a childhood haunted by terrifying events at the Overlook Hotel, Danny Torrance has been drifting for decades.

Finally, he settles into a job at a nursing home where he draws on his remnant ‘shining’ power to help people pass on.

Then he meets Abra Stone, a young girl with the brightest ‘shining’ ever seen. But her gift is attracting a tribe of paranormals. They may look harmless, old and devoted to their Recreational Vehicles, but The True Knot live off the ‘steam’ that children like Abra produce.

Now Dan must confront his old demons as he battles for Abra’s soul and survival…

~*~

Don’t you just love Stephen King? Decades after we last visited the Overlook Hotel and the Torrance family in The Shining, we’re back and rolling with a much older Danny and a new battle of good versus evil in Doctor Sleep, and it’s just as brilliant.

Danny is a recovering alcoholic. He has schlepped from one town to another drinking himself into oblivion and doing his utmost to ignore his Shining abilities.

But when Abra comes in to his life, he realises that he can no longer ignore that part of him, in case he endangers her. Meanwhile, The True Knot, led by the magnetic Rose the Hat, are travelling across America in their RVs, kidnapping and killing children who have the Shining, in order to live forever. And they have set their sights on Abra.

The beauty of King is his characters. They are all so mind-bogglingly realistic, and yet are such pure and simple characters that there must be some kind of magic that he does to make them so brilliant. You even kind of love the bad guys.

His setting becomes a character as well (even more so when it comes to the Overlook which quite literally comes to life), and the whole story lifts of the page with roaring vitality. It’s a distinctive world that King drops you in to, and there is something comforting about revisiting it (despite it’s less than savoury characters), and he does it with skill. The two books might be decades apart, but it could be moments in terms of tone of voice, and Danny is like catching up with an old friend.

I tried to explain why Stephen King was so brilliant to someone who doesn’t read fiction (and has a particular aversion to sci-fi and fantasy and anything that has something Not Real in it), and the closest I could get was that it reads like a memoir from your favourite person – the scary stuff was just a byproduct (and that’s what makes it so scary). Never more so than Doctor Sleep.

With Doctor Sleep it’s a relentless battle of good versus evil, and both inner and outer demons. The characters are never squeaky clean, and what is so good about Danny is that he has to deal with his own issues before he can really help Abra; his behaviour, actions and emotions all feel authentic, and so it takes you with him as you read on.

Okay, I’ll stop spewing about how brilliant it is (but it really is). If you’re a fan of The Shining, then this will be right up your street, and if you love Stephen King, you’ll love this book too, because it’s SK down to the core. His writing style is so unique; you couldn’t mistake it for anyone else.

It’s 482 pages of pure horror and adventure. Danny is even more likeable as an adult (despite his drinking problem), and Abra is just the kind of teenager you would want leading the charge in a book. Even the periphery characters are entertaining enough that you don’t feel duped, and Rose the Hat as the antagonist is suitably scary. There is nothing about this book that I didn’t like, love or enjoy. If you haven’t got it already, I insist you get it. For those of you who haven’t read any Stephen King, or The Shining, I would start there purely on the basis that Danny’s complex character comes from the first book, and there are a lot of cross-references that you might miss. But other than that: why aren’t you reading it already!?

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1 Comment

  1. Hi
    I liked your review and I really enjoyed this book too. I was hooked from the start and couldn’t put it down.I didn’t read the Shining but roughly knew the story but for me it didn’t affect my reading of this book.

    I wrote my review recently also and if you are interested in reading it, it is at http://www.anitasbookbag.co.uk

    Anita

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