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Review : Doctor Sleep / Stephen King

November 8, 2013

In my opinion, Stephen King fans have gone a long time between drinks. I have long thought that King’s best work is in the past. Although I’ve read most of King’s books, and admire his work very much, his recent novels have left me thinking sadly: too many words, too much time invested for not enough return. I recall his best novels; The Stand, The Tommyknockers, and the classic The Shining. These are powerful stories, gripping, scary and suspenseful. However, I reckon only King’s die-hard fans have relished his recent efforts, such as that thing about JFK’s assassination, and Under The Dome, which I only just managed to finish…the scariest thing about the latter was the prospect of dropping it on my foot.

That said, I galloped through Doctor Sleep. This picks up thirty or so years after the events at the Overlook Hotel, related in The Shining. Danny Torrance, the psychic boy from that novel, is now all grown up. In Doctor

Stephen King, American author best known for h...

Stephen King, American author best known for his enormously popular horror novels. King was the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Taken at the 2007 New York Comicon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sleep,  Dan is battling a severe alcohol problem, having been driven to the bottle as a means of blocking out his ‘shine,’ as he calls the visions that beset him. Dan finds salvation in AA, and a job at a hospice, where he uses his unique abilities to comfort the dying.

Enter the True Knot, the second string of the story…the Knot are vampire-like critters who roam the highways of America in campervans. Although they appear to be soft retirees, the type generally found in roadside MacDonalds, these ancient beings get their sustenance by homing in on psychic children and torturing them to death for their psychic essence, or “steam.” The third string of the story involves Abra, a young girl, who shows powerful psycho–kinetic abilities from birth. The True Knot get wind of Abra when she’s in her early teens, and they’re desperate to get their talons on her. King skillfully brings the three strings of his story together into a showdown at the unholy place where the Overlook once stood.

Comparisons are odious, but Doctor Sleep is, after all, being touted as a sequel to The Shining…so I’ll compare them. Doctor Sleep is no Shining, but it’s far better than anything King has written for ages. It’s a worthy sequel, a gripping read, and it certainly kept me up late.

– Keith

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