Stephen King returns to the bestseller list with his most recent novel, supernatural thriller “Doctor Sleep.”
The sequel to King’s 1977 novel, “The Shining,” it follows protagonist Dan Torrance, an alcoholic with psychic abilities. He takes work as a hospice orderly, using his ability or “shine” to help residents pass away peacefully. This earns him the nickname “Doctor Sleep.”
Torrance crosses paths with Abra, a young girl with similar talents. Abra is being stalked by a mysterious group of nomads who kill people with psychic powers and inhale their essence.
Torrance and Abra team up to battle these creatures, leading to a confrontation at the ruins of the Overlook Hotel, the setting for “The Shining.”
The plot moves quickly, jumping from viewpoint to viewpoint, even moving forward years in time. This does make the book a little hard to follow, but makes up for it with engaging characters and constant suspense.
The book is a fantastic read, King is at his best when describing Torrance’s struggle with alcohol. King himself suffered from alcoholism, so you get a sense that this is a guy who knows what he’s talking about. One scene that stuck out was when Torrance reveals to his AA group some of his escapades while drunk, including stealing money from a destitute woman. His fellow AA members are unfazed, check their watches, and continue eating. This struck me as anticlimactic, I was expecting a drawn out melodrama, yet King delivers a dose of reality. These little details are what make Stephen King’s writing great, and “Doctor Sleep” is full of them.
The main character, Dan Torrance, resembles many of King’s protagonists from other novels. A basic good guy troubled with dark secrets and a mysterious situation or power. It is not a major detractor from the novel, but fans of King’s other works will get a feeling of nostalgia to characters like Gard, from “The Tommyknockers,” and Thad Beaumont from “The Dark Half.”
The only flaw is in King’s description of Abra. She’s thirteen for a major portion of the story, yet King makes her sound like a giggly eight year old.
For Stephen King fans “Doctor Sleep” is a must have. For casual readers, this is a great way to get into King’s books.