When Stephen King is at his very best (The Stand, Night Shift, IT), there is arguably no better storyteller in the world.
Even when he is not quite at his best, like in his new sequel to The Shining, the storytelling keeps the reader on edge and turning King’s many, many pages rapidly.
Doctor Sleep is the tale of young Danny Torrance, now all grown up but still dealing with the grisly remains of his early life at the Overlook Hotel in Colorado, where dad Jack went bonkers and killed everything he could get his hands on.
Danny still has something called “the shining” in which he can do fantastical things in coordination with other people around the world who also have various degrees of the shining.
I really enjoyed the human-drama aspect of the novel’s first half as Danny tries to overcome the alcoholism that is leading him down a road of blackouts, unsafe sex, and general self-destruction. When he takes a bus to a random town in New England, he begins to better manage his troubles as he meets some friends and works in a hospice where he is given the nickname “Doctor Sleep” because of his powers to help people on their deathbeds cross over to the other side.
Then he starts getting shining visions of a girl named Abra Stone who is in trouble because of her own very-powerful shining powers. This half of the novel is not quite as convincing and the book tails off a bit at the end. However, the concept and some of the character development are interesting. The True Knot is a group of zombie/vampires that appear to others as shlumpy RV travelers, with a powerful and sexy leader named Rose the Hat. She needs to find certain children like Abra to torture in order to get the “steam” her cult needs to literally survive forever.
Doctor Sleep definitely adds luster to King’s long-ago solidified legacy. In fact, it would be great to see more sequels of several of his other early novels that I loved so much as a teenager.
**** out of ***** stars