Although The Shining wasn’t my first Stephen King book (that was Silver Bullet) it was one that I read soon afterwards, curled up in bed at night losing sleep because I couldn’t put it down. I reread The Shining about a year and a half ago, years after my last reread and I was disappointed. Although I liked it, I didn’t love it as much as I remember.
I was a bit afraid that Doctor Sleep would be disappointing, too. I shouldn’t have been afraid because it was the best Stephen King read since I read Duma Key (that is not to say I didn’t like the other books of him I read since).
Doctor Sleep pick up a little while after the Overlook Hotel has burned to the ground, Wendy and Danny are still in contact with Dick Hallorann, who helps Danny with problems relating to what happened at the Overlook. Flash forward about 30 years and Dan is, like his father, an alcoholic with a temper. After an incident he moves on to a new town where he gets a new job and his boss helps him joining the AA. A few years later Dan works and lives in the local hospice, where he’s got the nickname Doctor Sleep because he,and cat Azzie, help the clients die peacefully. In a nearby town a girl named Abra is born shortly after Dan has joined the AA, like Dan she’s got the shining. From about 5 months old she’s in contact with Dan off and on, until she get a shining “emergency” message from another boy with the shining who is killed by a group of people, the True Knot, who travel through America in RVs and live off the “steam” of children with the shining. Abra now asks Dan to help her, because she is in danger of the True Knot, who want to kidnap Abra since she has the brightest shining they’ve ever come across.
It’s a worthy follow up to The Shining. Where The Shining was about the evil within (people and the hotel) and had an almost claustrophobic atmosphere Doctor Sleep is about the danger that comes from the outside. The scare isn’t in blood and gore but psychological; what people can do to each other and how desperation can drive people.
You don’t have to have read The Shining to be able to enjoy Doctor Sleep, although it helps understanding all the references.