Stephen King entry 'Dr. Sleep' tells what the future held for 'Shining' child
Consider this the sequel you never knew you were waiting for, but will be very glad it arrived.
Thirty-six years after introducing readers to Danny Torrance and a precognitive ability he came to call “the shine,” Stephen King is back with another creepy tale featuring the now-adult Dan, a young girl named Abra and a mysterious group of soul-sucking creeps known as the True Knot.
Read “The Shining” first if you haven't already, but don't worry if it's been a few years or decades. King opens with a chapter called “Prefatory Matters” and deftly catches readers up with that novel. He begins “Doctor Sleep” with Dan starting fresh in New Hampshire after years of trying to outrun his demons. “His mind was a blackboard. Booze was the eraser,” writes King. Yes, he's an alcoholic like his late father, but unlike that mallet-wielding madman, he's finally ready to utter those words demanded by Alcoholics Anonymous: “I need help.”
He finds it in part by becoming a mentor to 12-year-old Abra, whose shining is stronger than his own and who needs some protection from the voices and visions she can't always turn off in her head.
Here King has a little fun with pop culture's current obsession with vampires. Turns out those caravans of motor homes on America's highways or parked in a circle at a campground are nothing but a front for undead demons who survive by inhaling the “steam” that telepaths and seers like Dan and Abra give off.
They've been around for centuries, hiding in plain sight, and feasting on folks who shine.
The leader of the True Knot is one of King's best baddies in years — Rose O'Hara, aka Rosie the Hat — a 6-foot beauty fond of wearing a top hat and hellbent on sacrificing Abra for the survival of her species. King's a master at writing characters you love to hate. Rose is like Drago in “Rocky IV,” sneering and overconfident, and you can't wait for the inevitable showdown with Abra.
There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, and it all ends up at a familiar place in the Colorado mountains where Dan Torrance never thought he'd return. In keeping with tradition, King sprinkles in plenty of insider references to his fictional universe (Jerusalem's Lot is a favorite hangout for the True Knot, for instance) that will leave fans smiling.
Bottom line: If you loved “The Shining,” you'll love catching up with these characters. King is in fine form, making you laugh, grossing you out and spinning a tale that keeps the pages turning. If you've never read King, there are better starter novels in his canon, but you could do a lot worse than a double feature of “The Shining” followed by “Doctor Sleep.”
Rob Merril is a staff writer for the Assocaited Press.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.