‘Stay away from the woman in the hat, Honeybear.’
‘She’s the Queen bitch of Castle Hell. If you mess with her, she’ll eat you alive.’
If you have read my earlier post, leading up to the release of Doctor Sleep, you know that while I was looking forward to reading, macabre maestro, Stephen King’s latest offering, I wasn’t as excited as I normally am for one of his new books. I’ve been a “Constant reader” for the last ten years and, while he is one of my favourite authors, betting on a winning horse just isn’t quite the same as the discovery of a hidden gem. It’s must be a similar feeling to supporting a team who constantly wins, but after finishing book 64, there isn’t anything quite like THIS winning horse. There’s nobody that can touch a nerve like Stephen King.
Doctor Sleep picks up with the now middle aged Danny Torrance following in the footsteps of his father…an alcoholic. Like father, like son. Dan’s justification is that the booze suppresses his “Shining”, his supernatural abilities that plague his everyday life and rules his nightmares. The drink holds back the ghosts of The Overlook.
Dan eventually lands in rural New Hampshire and begins working in a hospice where, with the help of the hospice cat Azzie, he helps the elderly pass on with his ‘Shining’ ability. This earns him the nickname Doctor Sleep and with regular AA meetings and good people around him, Dan finally has all he really wants.
On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless – mostly old and married to their RVs. The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the ‘steam’ that children with the ‘shining’ produce when they are slowly tortured to death.
Dan meets Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining he’s ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival.
A few things make this book great, King’s own battle against drug and alcohol addiction makes Dan’s AA scenes completely believable, as are Dan’s thoughts towards the drink and himself. King books are known for giving nods towards his other works but even though they’re still there, the biggest nod goes to his son’s fantastic horror novel NOS4R2, which sent a shiver up my spine.
King is, and probably will always be, my favourite author. His characters breathe the same air we do and even though most of their road blocks are based in supernatural settings, the ways in which they have to deal with them are entirely human.
This book will attract some negativity because The Shining is so well loved, but Doctor Sleep is a brilliant sequel. The author is a completely different person to the drug filled alcoholic who sat down to write about Jack and the Outlook Hotel as are his constant readers and the thought of King evolving his style and outlook on the craft excites this constant reader
Doctor Sleep is published by Hodder and Stoughton and is available now.
- Stephen King Performs A Masterstroke With The Horror Sequel ‘Doctor Sleep’ (contactmusic.com)