Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

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.
King himself needs no introduction, but it's a vastly different writer behind Doctor Sleep than behind The Shining. 36 years ago King was young and an alholic. He's referred to Jack Torrance as the most autobiographical character he's ever written.
The Shining (1977) is a horror classic to many; I read it for the first time in 2012 and was scared witless. The horrors of that book ... *shudder* Here Doctor Sleep differs. It's not a spooky horror. Not to me at least. It's horrific, what the vampyric True Knot does, and the thought of them are scary, but they're not evil personified as the Overlook Hotel was. It's less creepy movie horror and more realistic scary people horror. Doctor Sleep also deals with some more daily issues, such as mistakes and regrets and wanting to do better. You can read Doctor Sleep without having read The Shining, but you'll be missing out on a lot of background story and information. Like King himself I'm not a fan of the film, as it does not convey the actual story of Jack nor of the shining abilities.

Doctor Sleep is 531 pages long and it took nearly 300 pages before it became a page-turner. It was however incredibly well-written from page 1 and very much a Stephen King book with all his usual focus points and supernatural shine. I'm very grateful to Gitte from who urged me to keep reading when I some 50 pages in was deeply confused as nothing was what I'd expected. It's well worth the full read.

One thing I really enjoyed was sitting with a book that brought Danny into the modern world of smartphones, Sons of Anarchy references and the so on. I don't know why, but I just loved finding all sorts of references and technology scattered around the book that I recognized, which I could use to ground the book in my day and time.

We start out meeting Danny not too long after the Overlook Hotel and then slowly we crawl and jump forward in time following Dan's descent into alcoholism to repress his abilities and then his way out of it again and becoming Doctor Sleep. We are also introduced to a variety of new and important characters who each hold their own. Abra is a delight and the True Knot people are horrible - to sum it up. The story was not at all what I'd thought it'd be, having only some vague idea about him as Doctor Sleep, but I ended up loving the whole damn thing.

Particularly Jack.

by Stephen King
ISBN13: 9781476727653
531 pages / Published in 2013

Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2014


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