Date finished: November 28, 2017
Doctor Sleep, Stephen King
The Shining was one of my first exposures to Stephen King, and still remains one of my favorite books. I didn’t read Doctor Sleep for several years after its release because I was worried it wouldn’t hold a flame to The Shining, but I’m happy to report that it was very enjoyable — independent of its predecessor.
Danny Torrance is only six years old in The Shining, but, based on the horrors that befall him throughout, it’s inevitable that readers walk away from the 1977 novel thinking, “wow, that kid is going to be scarred for life.” King himself acknowledges this in the Author’s Note preceding Doctor Sleep, and I so appreciate that Danny stayed with him in the same way that he stayed with many readers.
As the protagonist of Doctor Sleep, Danny (Dan) is in many ways a spitting image of his father at the outset of the novel — a raging alcoholic with a temper. We learn very quickly that Dan has real, tangible, residue-leaving demons, and his life is one focused on pain, death, and regret. He remains an interesting character throughout, and his character arc and overall development are incredible. (Small spoiler: he’s a much more likable guy by the end of the book.)
Apart from Dan, we’re introduced to Abra, who is older and spunkier than Danny was in The Shining, but is a firm reminder of his character. (The parallel between Dick Hallorann : Danny and Dan : Abra is one The Shining readers will really appreciate.) Abra has a strong supernatural power that even Dan has never witnessed before, and when she reaches out to him he can’t not help her.
The True Knot, the novel’s villain(s), was an interesting addition to the story that has no comparable aspect in The Shining, but is reminiscent of supernatural entities in King’s other works (i.e. Gage Creed, Pennywise, and the vampires in ‘Salem’s Lot).
While nothing will top The Shining in my book, I really appreciated that King didn’t attempt to simply give readers more of what they loved from the Torrances and instead took Doctor Sleep, in typical King fashion, in its own frightening and memorable direction.
Photo courtesy @cozybooknook (Instagram)