Dr. Sleep – The Free Press book review

Stephen King fans will remember main character, Danny, as the boy whose 'special ability' saved the lives of he and his mom in The Shining.

Submitted by Adrienne Raczki

Fans of Stephen King will remember our main character, Danny Torrance, as the small boy whose ‘special ability’ saved the lives of he and his mom in King’s smash hit, The Shining, 1977.  We return to find Dan, now a middle-aged alcoholic struggling to live a ‘normal’ life with an extraordinary gift.  King admitted that he wrote much of The Shining while drunk. Perhaps Dan’s alcoholism and subsequent sobriety is a reflection of King himself.

We travel with Dan as he battles with his alcoholism, his past and his ‘shining’, and ultimately finds himself in a small New Hampshire town.  Dan’s new home affords him sobriety, and soul-satisfying employment as a sort of ‘Death Doula’, known as Doctor Sleep. Dan uses his shine to help residents at the senior’s residence die peacefully. Although possibly morbid, this allows Dan to enjoy, rather than despise, his gift.

Through shared ‘powers’ Dan is introduced to young Abra, a small child with a big gift: A clairvoyance so strong it is coveted by an evil group of ‘psychic vampires’ who hunt gifted children and torture them for their ‘steam’.  The True Knot, as they are known, travel in unassuming fashion. Cleverly disguised as regular, RV-loving Americans, they cross the country seeking out those children who ‘shine’.

Dan and Abra must battle this evil troupe and their own personal demons. In the shadow of the Overlook Hotel, a campground has bloomed and now disguises the evil of the True Knot.  Fans of The Shining will appreciate the homage to King’s earlier work, but may be disappointed in the farfetchedness of this sequel.  This book is less frightening than most of King’s classics, so if you’re looking for a good scare, this won’t do it. However, to delve into Dan Torrance’s ‘shine’ is spooky good fun.