Doctor Sleep


Doctor Sleep isn’t perfect, but it’s still a hell of a read. Stephen King picks up where The Shining left off and brings Danny Torrance back to life for the readers. It’s been a long time since we last saw Dan, so there is plenty to catch up on. And while the Overlook Hotel is gone, there are still evil things inhabiting the world. When those things start seeking out Dan, he must learn to deal with them, or die.

Holding Doctor Sleep in your hands, there’s the immediate reassurance of another weighty tome. This book clocks in at 531 pages in hardcover and touches on five presidential eras. It starts with young Danny Torrance learning some important lessons from Dick Hallorann, his psychic teacher. In another era, we’re introduced to the bad guys of the story. A traveling band of vampiric gypsies, disguising themselves as retirees in their fleet of RV’s, represent a new level of terror. These creature who were once human now feed off those who have the shining. Their meal of choice? Defenseless children. Imagine a group of wandering nomads eating children across the country, and you begin to get an idea of the horror these things represent.

The real heart of this story is the long journey the characters take toward their final battle. While Dan grows up and deals with a whole heap of issues, we get glimpses of the evil gypsies, the True Knot, and a new character named Abra who is gifted with the shining. These three points form the backbone of the book. We see what Dan goes through to deal with his powers. He has to face ghosts that can physically hurt him, the nightmares of what happened at the Overlook Hotel, and the ravages of alcoholism. Like his father before him, Dan has fallen to the bottle, and just like his dad, he’s got an anger problem. Dan deals with those issues as he travels across the country in search of an answer. What he finds is Abra.

Abra is very much like Dan in that she’s gifted with the shining and her parents don’t understand her power. However, Abra is much more powerful than Dan. The early part of her story shows her exceptional abilities as a infant, her remarkable childhood, and as she becomes a teenager, we see her path cross Dan’s as they reach present time. Meanwhile, the story provides glimpses of the True Knot, slowly revealing more about who they are and what they do. They’re a very compelling menace for most of the book.

The majority of the novel is great. I had one small issue in the very beginning with Dick’s lockbox trick, as it seemed like a logic flaw for the first book, but it was easy enough to put that behind as the story stormed on ahead. Watching Dan spiral down into the bottle and climb back out, seeing Abra grow up with her special abilities, and all the while watching the True Knot loom across America’s highways as an ever present threat, it was easy to get lost in the story and stay there. However, toward the end, the book lost some of that magic. The book’s primary villain, Rose the Hat (pictured on the cover), faltered in the last portion of the book. She started off as a very strong character. She was an imposing threat who had lived over a century, commanded a tribe of merciless killers, and was empowered with remarkable abilities. Yet at the end of the story, her character falls apart. She loses her edge. That sense of power and threatening force disappeared. She became a disappointing villain and no where near as scary as she started out as.

The good thing is that while Rose the Hat takes a nose dive in the end, Abra and Dan stay strong. Both of their characters have very nice character arcs that play out well. I really enjoyed their stories. As such, the book overall was a good read. The development of the villains suffers a lot in the end, but the actually ending of the book is very satisfying. There’s no trick ending like the Dark Tower series, or drawn out conclusion like The Stand. The ending hits when it needs to, wraps up the character’s stories, and leaves readers at a good stopping point.

For Stephen King fans, there really isn’t much question to it, you’re going to have to read Doctor Sleep. It’s not often that Stephen King writes a sequel. Fans of The Shining will also want to check it out because Dan’s character arc is a memorable journey and well worth the hours of reading. The new characters are enjoyable too. For those who haven’t read The Shining, you’ll miss out on some of the context of the story, but this book is enough of a story in itself that you can make the leap. While it doesn’t hold it’s terrifying edge as well as The Shining, it’s still an engrossing read with moments that are actually even more scary. In the end, I give Doctor Sleep a four out of five metal bikinis. The journey to the end is a great ride, but that last leg is a little bumpy.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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