This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

05 March, 2014

REVIEW: DOCTOR SLEEP


DOCTOR SLEEP
BY
STEPHEN KING

ISBN: 978-1-444-76120-7
Pages:
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: 24 September 2013

On the cover:
(From the publisher's website.)

 On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless - mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the 'steam' that children with the 'shining' produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father's legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him and a job at a nursing home where his remnant 'shining' power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes 'Doctor Sleep.'

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan's own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra's soul and survival...


   This is billed as a sequel to The Shining, and in one way it is. We do learn what happened to Danny Torrance after the events that took place at the Overlook Hotel, but those events are really incidental to what takes place here. It does help if you have read The Shining before you read Doctor Sleep, but mostly in the way that you will know what it is Danny is thinking about when he is thinking about what happened at the Overlook Hotel. And it will give more significance to the problem that Danny has struggled with. But it's by no means essential to read the previous book before setting out to read this.

   King often uses quite a bit of time to let us get to know the characters before the story really gets going, and this is not an exception to that. This is however not in any way a drawback, it is done in a way that gets you very invested in what happens to the main characters.
   Danny Torrance is not the only main character in this book he shares that role with Abra Stone, who is mentioned in the cover copy above. I will not give away who Abra is, or what her role in all that happens is, but I will say that she is an excellent character who I would like to see more of in the future.
   As already alluded to both Danny and Abra are very well described by King, and we get really close to them. Danny is given more space than Abra is, but that has reasons that will come clear when you read the novel.
   There are of course more than two characters in the book but we don't get as close to the others as the two I've already mentioned. We do however get to meet several other characters that are well developed and add a lot to the story of our main protagonists.
   It wouldn't really be a King book if we didn't have at least one antagonist for our main characters, her we have a group of them. They are introduced pretty early on, but they takes a while before it really is clear what their role is. It is the discovery of what these antagonists are that gives us the story in this book.

   I've already mentioned that the story takes a bit of time to get going, but that isn't time that is wasted. Not only do we get to know the characters and the situation they are in, but we get a creepy undertone that slowly builds into suspense. King is keeping some of his cards close to his chest, and it does take a while before things really become clear. And even then things are far from certain.
   That is one of the strengths of this novel, that the outcome is kept uncertain longer than is usual. The tension level is really high at times, and the nature of what is happening in many ways prevents the story from going down familiar paths. There is however some weaknesses in the outcome here, especially one event went a little bit too quickly for my tastes, but that is just a minor quibble.

   Overall this is definitely a great novel. There is plenty of suspense here to satisfy those that like a bit of mystery in their reading. I did however not feel that there was much Horror in this, although there is an abundance of the supernatural. Even when there is somewhat of a supernatural background to what is happening it is caused by things that are very human.
   The characters are definitely among King's best, and that I see characters as one of King's great strengths that should tell you something about how much I liked spending time with them.
   This is a book that should satisfy everyone that likes a supernatural Thriller. For King fans it is of course a must, but I feel confident in saying that this is one King book that can be easily gotten into by those who have never read him before.
   Personally I want to recommend that everyone who reads this review reads this book.

STEPHEN KING REVIEW INDEX

LINKS: Stephen King  Hodder & Stoughton

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this. I was a little on the fence about whether or not I wanted to pick this up. I haven't read The Shining in what seems AGES. I was all set to wait until his next release to pick up King again, but perhaps I will grab this one now.

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  2. Like I said, it doesn't matter much. This isn't a direct sequel.
    On the other hand the next King novel is out in June, so it wouldn't be a long wait.

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