Title: Doctor Sleep
Author: Stephen King
Published: September 24, 2013 by Scribner
Before I get to the review, I need to talk about my very stressful ordering process with Amazon. I pre-ordered this along with Joyland way back in May of this year. I received Joyland on the day of the release but Doctor Sleep, of course, was delivered a day after the release. I was furious. When you pre-order something, you expect it the day it hits bookshelves. Not to mention, the sheer excitement for this book was greater than what I've felt in a long time for a new release. It isn't Amazon's fault but really Fedex Smartpost. I did get a $5 Amazon credit (that I already spent) so I can't complain too much. But, it was frustrating and a bit depressing starting this book a day after many who got it the release day in bookstores.
Onto the review!
As the book begins we are given much wanted information as to how little Danny and Wendy Torrance are holding up after their terrifying ordeal at the Overlook Hotel at the hand of Jack Torrance and the ghostie people who inhabited said hotel. Wendy received a settlement from the Overlook and was able to scrap by on it for a few years, though she and her son never lived lavishly.
Both Wendy and Danny kept in touch with Dick Hollarann, the Overlook's former head chef, because he and Danny shared the "shining". Wendy often called Dick to talk to Danny when he retreated into his head and caused parental concern. Why was Danny having a hard time adjusting to life? Alcoholic and almost murderer father aside, the ghosts from the Overlook Hotel followed him home. At first it was the naked and rotting woman from room 217, Mrs. Massey, and then it was Horace Derwent who's shoulders were covered in confetti and asked, "great party, isn't it?" Dick ultimately taught Danny how to lock them away in make believe lock-boxes in his mind.
The book from here takes a leap in time and now we meet an alcoholic Dan Torrance. Dan started drinking in early high school because alcohol was able to give him relief from most of his shining capabilities. Add in the genes he inherited from his father--he was destined to become an alchy. "The mind was a blackboard. Booze was the eraser." (Page 83.) After hitting rock bottom (which entailed waking up next to a woman, losing hundreds of dollars on blow and walking into her dingy living room seeing this woman's infant son, covered in bruises and wearing a soggy diaper, reach for the cocaine thinking it was candy), Dan decides to take a bus across the country and lands in Frazier NH. He decides to try to start a new life here. Ultimately landing a job at a hospice, Dan becomes known as Doctor Sleep because of his ability to help those who are dying with his shining.
As Dan is trying to live a sober life, full of exciting (not) AA meetings, a little girl named Abra comes into contact with him via shining. Abra has an incredibly bright shining and it's worried her parents since she was an infant. Dan's old imaginary friend, Tony, is also Abra's. And, it is because of Abra's shining that the True Knot become aware and obsessed with hunting her down.
What are the True Knot? From the outside, they look like a bunch of hippies who travel in a fleet of RV's across the country. What they really are are "vampire-like" creatures who feed off the "steam" of children with the shining. Led by Rose The Hat, this group of "people" are very old and very powerful. Abra becomes aware of the True Knot when she sees a boy in a missing persons flier and is able to touch the picture and see what happened to him at the hand of Rose The Hat and her clan. The True Knot need to find and kill Abra not because of how much steam she would let off, but because they are dying off from the little boy that Abra touched in the missing persons flier. The True Knot have, it seems, contracted measles from this little boy's steam and Rose thinks Abra's steam is their only hope. Finding Abra is a matter of survival and the True Knot will stop at nothing.
I really don't want to give too much away so I'll just say that this is an action packed book where Dan teams up with Abra to try to put an end to the True Knot.
Stephen King did Dan Torrance justice and this was a stellar read. What Stephen King really excels at is character development. He's also one of the few people who can hook you at the first page and hold on tight until the novel ends. I do recommend reading The Shining first before indulging in Doctor Sleep. Though, you'll get on decently with just having seen the film.