Author: Stephen King
The Shining is one of the best books you will ever read, King or otherwise, and so its sequel, Doctor Sleep, had a lot to live up to. King decided to delve deep into unpleasantness when he wrote The Shining, decided to move beyond simple horror into horror with a much deeper message, which is exactly what makes him a genius, and exactly why his books can be read on multiple levels. Doctor Sleep is a continuation on that theme, revealing terrible things about the writer and about us, with a fun fantasy story to help the medicine go down.
Danny Torrence is all grown up now, having put the Overlook, his father, and the literal ghosts of his past behind him. But in order to do that, in order to move on and mute his shine from the spirits who look to plague him, he’s turned to his father’s trusty old sidekick, booze, and it’s eaten up his life. Miraculously stumbling upon a quaint town where there are people who want to help him, Dan is now sober, but now the real challenges start. He’ll have to teach a little girl how to control her shine, and how to ward off those who would consume it, as a group of vagabond vampires seek the powerful shiners so they can suck their very souls.
It’s nice that we get a followup story for Dan, much like we did for Jack in Black House, following his adventures in The Talisman. And it’s nice because there was more to explore here on the tougher side; alcoholism, abuse, neglect, trauma, and we get to talk about all of it. The fantasy/horror part is great too, the shine, the vampire-types, the war for power, that was all really cool. The timeline jumps forward too often, skipping big chunks, getting the girl to grow up and giving Danny time to get clean, which makes sense, but I felt like too much was missing, and some parts were focused on too much. It was never going to live up to The Shining, obviously, but this final chapter is a strong way to put those ghosts to rest, and for ‘constant readers’ to go deeper. King doesn’t lose talent with age, his novels keep rolling right along, and I hope they never, ever end.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆