Doctor Sleep (2013)

Doctor_Sleep coverI have mixed feelings for Mr. King. The first adult book I ever read was TOMMYKNOCKERS, and like a lot of people, I thought he was the bomb when I first came across him. But, eventually, and I am guessing you may just sense a bit of a negative tone here, but eventually I noticed certain patterns to his work, and from there started to notice certain failings of his. Most of the time, I find reading a King novel is an investment of a great deal of time and mental energy, which isn’t always a bad thing, but certainly isn’t always a good thing either. Don’t get me wrong, I love some of his work, but I also grow tired of the multitude of characters, side stories that lead nowhere, and a basic form of narration-procrastination. I don’t hate the guy, but have found myself a little reluctant to read his stuff, particularly recently.

How utterly wonderful for me, then, that I decided to read DOCTOR SLEEP. For those of you who don’t know, this is the sequel to The Shining, which was the main reason I decided to read it. (And here is one of those embarrassing confessions I occasionally feel the need to make: I haven’t read THE SHINING yet, but like anyone else who calls themselves a fan of horror movies, I have watched it many, many times (both versions actually)).

Doctor Sleep begins where THE SHINING departed, with the child psychic Danny Torrence, his mother Wendy and the beloved head chef of the Overlook Hotel, Dick Halloran, having survived the horrific last night of the hotel’s life, which culminated in the whole place exploding care of an ancient boiler left unchecked. King gives us brief snapshots of Danny through key moments of both his physical and psychic development. Danny, now the adult Dan, grew up to be a lot like his father – an alcoholic with anger issues and problems holding down a job. That is, until one day, he meets the right person at the right time, who introduces Danny to AA. This day also happens to coincide with the birth of another powerful child with the shining, a girl named Abra, who reaches out to Dan from the cradle with her powers.

doctor-sleep_fade-away1As his sobriety grows, so does his psychic abilities, with Dan becoming known as Doctor Sleep at the hospice he works at for his ability to help the dying pass on in comfort, and thus the title of the novel. However, though Dan’s life seems to be going well, he can’t escape his past.

Sounds kind of standard so far, yes? What you would expect, no?

Cue strange psychic parasite RV people who eat children.

Well, they eat their powers anyway. Yep, a group called The True Knot, long living psychic vampires, have been roaming the world for yonks stealing kids with the shining, which they call steam, to torture and the kill in order to feed off their releasing powers. They have delightful names, such as Rose the Hat, Daddy Crow and Barry the Chink. One night, while the knot are happily torturing a victim, the young Abra Stone accidently manages to do some sort of astral projection, and sees the Knot at work. Unfortunately, the knot then becomes aware of her, and the extent of her power. Abra and Dan must join together to fight these parasites, and to do so means delving into areas of Dan’s past he would prefer to ignore, and returning to the place that was once the Overlook Hotel.

This book was excellent. There was none of the usual side plotting and meandering really, and it felt like all action. I certainly found it hard to put it down in order to do those bothersome chores like sleeping and eating. As always, the novel features a writer, but this time she is merely an important side figure instead of the actual pro/antagonist. And it is kind of creepy, really. But mostly, it’s nice to know what happens to Dan, even if it doesn’t start off so nice to begin with. Like many others, apparently, I always wondered what happened to that little kid who was almost killed by his dad. And now I know!

author Stephen King

author Stephen King

You do have to put up with a lot of AA praise, but it’s not so bad really, and most of the god aspect is left out. King has managed to write a convincing portrayal of a man who both loves and hates his father despite is abusive past. It’s well written, as you’d expect, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone is already planning on turning it into a movie. If you prefer psychological horror over gore, this is a good one for you.


His eyes found Barry. ‘You said you were one of the good guys! I heard you! You said so!’
‘Sorry , pal’. Barry didn’t look sorry. What he looked was hungry.
‘It’s not personal’
     Brad shifted his eyes back to Rose. ‘Are you going to hurt me? Please don’t hurt me’.
     Of course they were going to hurt him. It was regrettable, but pain purified steam, and the True had to eat. Lobsters also felt pain when they were dropped into pots of boiling water, but that didn’t stop the rubes from doing it. Food was food, and survival was survival.
     Rose put her hands behind her back. Into one of these, Greedy G placed a knife. It was short but very sharp. Rose smiled down at the boy and said, ‘As little as possible’.
     The boy lasted a long time. He screamed until his vocal cords ruptured and his cries became husky barks. At one point, Rose paused and looked around. Her hands, long and strong, wore bloody red gloves.

Sian’s Summary:

Author: Stephen King

Story: 8 out of 10 stars

Horror Elements: 7 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Sian

Stay Bloody!!!

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5 Responses to Doctor Sleep (2013)

  1. changeling69 says:

    Very few authors have the inborm talent Mr. King has!!!:):)

  2. Beer Movie says:

    Good review. Like you I have mixed feelings about King. Some of his stuff is mind blowing, but often it is not worth the effort. But I did recently finish reading The Shining which is probably my favourite of his films, so will probably get my hands on this one too.

  3. kbcutter says:

    I was a die hard SK fan since Junior High school ( I’m dating myself by not typing Middle School. I’m actually carbon dating myself.) I’ve read most of his work. I find his earlier novel to be more satisfying than his later efforts. True, to read Stephen King is a commitment. It’s not a endeavor to be taken upon lightly. One of the reasons why I opted to purchase the audio book version of Dr. Sleep. I suggest others do the same not only for the engrossing story but for actor Will Patton’s splendid narrative voice.

  4. gynocrat says:

    I liked it also– the one thing I did find hokey was the ‘we’re related’ aspect of Dan and Abra’s relationship. I think it would’ve worked without it. ^_-

    The last book that I red by King that I adored was Full Dark, No Stars. Great stories.

  5. I didn’t know if there were spoilers so I stopped reading part way through this. Like any good King fan, I have of course read enough to notice recurring themes (he’s especially fond of the “thin spots” in the universe theme…) but for the most part, Mr. King never lets me down with his novels. Can’t say the same for the eventual film versions of said novels. :/