For October, I decided to review Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep. It took me a long time to read this sequel to The Shining. I believe a part of me didn’t want to know about what happened to Danny Torrance and his mother after they left the Overlook Motel in Colorado. Life can get complicated for a person born with the Shining.
On January 24, 1978, one of the worst blizzards in U.S. history moved across the Midwest. Unfortunately, I lived in the blizzard’s path. We lost phone service. Snowdrifts piled up to the height of 10 to 20 feet. Roads closed, and travel became impossible. The power flickered on and off. Temperatures dropped below zero with Windchill factors in the minus 40 and 50 below range. The State Police closed every road in the state, and travel became impossible. Rooster couldn’t leave the factory where he worked. I rode out the storm with a copy Of Steven King’s The Shining in my hand. My first Stephen King book made me a lifelong fan. The Shining reminded me that even though in the middle of a natural disaster, things could be a lot worse.
Quick Synopsis of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep
Wendy and Dan Torrance receive a small settlement from what happened to them at the Overlook. They move to Florida. Life seems to be getting a little better until the spirits from the Overlook start paying Dan visits because of the shining. Dick Hallorann visits the family. He teaches Dan how to lock his unwanted visitors away in a mental lockbox.
Dan experiences a rough adolescence. He takes up drinking, which is something he promises himself he will never do. He’s on a path of self-destruction until he hops on a bus and ends up in the small New England town of Frazier. He finds a job at a hospice called Rivington House, where he earns the name of Doctor Sleep because he helps his patients pass into the next world. The hospice cat, Azzi, alerts the staff of patients approaching death because the animal spends time in the person’s room. Dan comes into contact with Alcoholic’s Anonymous. Dan gets sober, and his life is better until the birth of Abra and the entrance of the True Knot into his life.
Twists and turns in Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep
Abra is a child born with a strong dose of the shining. The True Knot are malevolent migratory beings who feed off the shining in children. They call this energy they suck from the kids they murder steam. Abra has a lot of this steam. The True Knot doesn’t know her identity, but they are aware she exists. Dan takes on the mission of making sure they don’t find and kill Abra. There are several nice twists concerning the relationship between these two people with the shining.
The book’s culmination is a battle between Dan and Rose the Hat at the Overlook. There were a lot of interesting twists and turns in this story. Like all Stephen King books, the reader experiences high drama. When I first started reading this sequel, I wasn’t sure if I would like it since I had such a dramatic relationship with The Shining. By the time I reached the ending, I knew I was glad I’d invested the time in taking this reading adventure.
Some highlights in Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep
The night Dan goes home with a woman he picks up from a bar forces him to take to the road. He wakes up the next morning to find Deenie’s son standing in the room with a heavy diaper. Dan also discovers he has spent his entire paycheck on drugs. He puts the drugs out of the kid’s reach and steals money from Deenie’s purse. He disappears and hops a bus with no destination in mind. This event plaques him for years. It is the one thing he can’t talk about in his A.A. meetings.
The abduction and murder of Bradley Trevor is one of the key highlights found in Doctor Sleep. During this tragic event, the True knot becomes aware of Abra’s existence. It serves as a catalyst to move the story along. The True Knot had some severe weaknesses in their system. All of the members started coming down with the measles from Bradley’s steam. They had to find Abra and harvest her steam if they were going to survive.
The second highlight for me occurred when Dan confronted Rose the Hat on the property that once harbored The Overlook. He made a bold last stand carrying a secret given to him by Abra’s dying grandmother in his body. He expected to never return from the battle. I don’t want to give the dramatic ending away.
Story Development found in Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep
Stephen King, as a master storyteller, weaves an interesting tale in Doctor Sleep. From the first glimpse we get of Dan living with his mother in Florida until the epic battle at the Overlook, the story held my interest. I believe King worked out a few demons of his own when he wrote about Dan’s struggle with addiction. Hiss journey through A.A. very realistic. I discovered a certain bitter sweetness in this book.
Stephen King doesn’t tell a story with many dull moments. He has been criticized for being too wordy, but I think he uses the right words to bring his story home. I didn’t discover any unanswered question in Doctor Sleep because I hate when a writer leaves bits of information floating around that hasn’t been connected by the ending. I thought this story unraveled perfectly.
Worldbuilding in Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep
King writes the New England town of Frazier, where Dan finds himself living. He knows how to create worlds inside these small towns. He’s been constructing these New England worlds for years. The hospice, Rivington House, has the perfect nursing home atmosphere with a unique touch that King develops with the cat, Azzie, and Dan living in a room on the premises. Dan moves through this environment, using his unique skill to function as Doctor Sleep. The Teenytown Railway gives the environment a definite small-town feel.
The world King best creates in this story is the freewheeling, RVing lifestyle of the True Knot. These folks look like a group of retirees enjoying the open road. A closer look at this group reveals a form of ancient, almost vampire-like characters searching for kids with the shining from which they can harvest steam. They travel in caravans until they come across a kid with steam. Their home is technically in Colorado, where the Overlook once stood. King does an amazing job of creating the world these folks travel in.
Magic System found in Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep
The shining is the magic system that moves the action of this story. All of the main characters are touched with a certain degree of clairvoyance. This telepathy helps them do battle and motivates the characters to do the things they do. The True Knot seeks out children with this ability to harvest their steam from them. The telepathic connection between Dan and Abra enabled them to defeat the True Knot by joining together.
Overall opinion of Doctor Sleep
Before I started reading this book, I wasn’t certain if I would like it. It didn’t take long for me to get sucked into the story. I’m glad I took the time to read this sequel to The Shining. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to get into a Halloween state of mind. There is a big question that remains. Will I get my spark of creativity back before NaNoWriMo? The challenge starts tomorrow.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.
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