Books Magazine

Book Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

By Pamelascott





PAGES: 485


YEAR: 2013




On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless – mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death. 

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.” 

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival… 


On the second day of December in a year when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado’s great resort hotels burned to the ground. The Overlook was declared a total loss. After an investigation, the fire marshal of Jicarilla County ruled the cause had been a defective boiler. The hotel was closed for the winter when the accident occurred, and only four people were present. Three survived. The hotel’s off-season caretaker, John Torrance, was killed during an unsuccessful (and heroic) effort to dump the boiler’s steam pressure, which had mounted to disastrously high levels  due to an inoperative relief valve.


Doctor Sleep is from my own collection. I only bought it a couple of weeks ago from Doctor Sleep is the sequel to The Shining and features Danny Torrance, all grown up.

I loved Doctor Sleep. This is King’s best novel in recent years and is on a par with his older and better novels including The Shining and IT. I was gripped from the opening section which fills the gaps in Danny’s life after the events of The Shining until Abra first contacts him. I had a great time reading this. Doctor Sleep is a fine example of how great a writer King can be.

I loved the characterisation in Doctor Sleep. It was great to see Danny Torrance as an adult. The novel opens with Danny struggling with alcoholism and his life parallels his father. Danny reaches rock bottom and manages to crawl his way back and break the habit his father never could. I really liked him. I liked the fact King took the time to show him recovering from alcoholism before getting on with the main story. I loved Abra and her kick-ass psychic powers. She reminded me a little of Charlie McGee from Firestarter. I loved it when King revealed Danny was actually Abra’s uncle because his father had an affair years before with a student just before he lost the job that led to him being the caretaker at the Overlook. I also really liked The True Knot. They were great, original villains. Rose the Hat was my favorite. What a nutty bitch.

I thought King offered something very original with Doctor Sleep. In a way it’s another version of that staple food of horror fiction – the vampire. The True Knot drink ‘steam’ which is the life-force of psychic children instead of blood but they can be seen as vampires just the same. My favorite scenes involved The True Knot. What a bunch of fascinating nuts. I loved it when Rose turned Andi, a young woman with the power to put people to sleep and when the Knot tortured and killed a young boy. Abra has a vision of this event which leads to Rose becoming obsessed with finding her to use her as a sort of steam machine and Abra becoming aware of them.

I liked the fact King returns to writing about ‘wild talents’ in Doctor Sleep. This is something he has written about a lot, especially in his earlier novels. Firestarter, The Shining and Carrie are among the best examples. I liked the scenes in Doctor Sleep where Danny regains his gifts after conquering alcoholism and making contact with Abra. I also loved the scenes were Abra displays her gifts. They were a joy to read. It felt like King returned his roots a little with Doctor Sleep.

I loved the ending of Doctor Sleep. In some ways it’s predictable – the bad guys lose and The True Knot is eliminated. However, what kind of shit novel would Doctor Sleep have been if they succeeded in getting Abra’s steam? I liked the way King executes the big finale. Abra kicks ass. The True Knot starts to die off because they caught measles from one of their victims and Danny, Abra and co. finishes them off. I loved it when Danny and Abra are able to step into each other’s mind. I loved it when Rose was taken down. Go King! Yippee!!!

King’s writing is on top form in Doctor Sleep. I was hooked from page one. I didn’t want to stop reading. I actually had to force myself to set the novel aside in order to go to sleep. Doctor Sleep reinforced the reasons why King is one of my favorite writers.



Up next: Salem’s Lot.   

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog