Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special 12-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot trav...

Title:Doctor Sleep
Author:
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Doctor Sleep Reviews

  • Blythe

    That cover is the epitome of perfection.

    So perfect that is should be on my shelves.

    Like, right now.

    I'm waiting.

    *stares at bookshelves*

    I'M GETTING AN ARC OF THIS MY LIFE IS OFFICIALLY MADE

  • Tiya Rosa

    A sequel, huh? I didn't feel much for Danny when I was going through

    since Jack Torrance pretty much had me by the balls, but I guess - this being a Stephen King book - I can give it a try.

    Oh, who am I kidding?

  • Greg

    (Disclosure: I used to work at Stephen King's publisher and read

    in December 2012.)

    Get ready. If I can make just one recommendation: whether you're a longtime King fan or fairly new to his stuff, it wouldn't be the worst thing to read

    before you get your hands on

    . Seasoned fans know that the movie, while engrossing in its own right, is very different in many ways, and doesn't even begin to plumb the psychological depths that the book does. You could read an

    (Disclosure: I used to work at Stephen King's publisher and read

    in December 2012.)

    Get ready. If I can make just one recommendation: whether you're a longtime King fan or fairly new to his stuff, it wouldn't be the worst thing to read

    before you get your hands on

    . Seasoned fans know that the movie, while engrossing in its own right, is very different in many ways, and doesn't even begin to plumb the psychological depths that the book does. You could read and love

    without doing so, but I think people's experiences of this sequel will only be enriched by first checking out one of the mothers of all horror novels.

  • Delee

    I hesitated to read DOCTOR SLEEP for about a minute. I was worried that it wouldn't live up to The Shining, and everything would be ruined. RUINED!

    Luckily that was not the case at all. I should have had more faith in Stephen King's love and respect for these characters. I am sorry for ever doubting you Stephen.

    A tribe of people called The True Knot travel around the United States- by RV- in search of children with "The Shining". These children have what The True Knot feeds off, something they c

    I hesitated to read DOCTOR SLEEP for about a minute. I was worried that it wouldn't live up to The Shining, and everything would be ruined. RUINED!

    Luckily that was not the case at all. I should have had more faith in Stephen King's love and respect for these characters. I am sorry for ever doubting you Stephen.

    A tribe of people called The True Knot travel around the United States- by RV- in search of children with "The Shining". These children have what The True Knot feeds off, something they call "steam". Their leader- Rose "The Hat" learns of a little girl -named Abra- that will keep them in steam for a very long time.

    Danny Torrance is all grown up, but far from happy. He is still haunted by his past. To numb the pain, and keep the ghosts at bay, he follows in his fathers footsteps with the bottle. Dan finally settles down in a little town in New Hampshire , joins AA, and finds a little bit of peace...until one day he starts receiving strange telepathic messages from a little girl named Abra. Abra needs his help.

    Call me crazy, but I think I liked DOCTOR SLEEP more than I liked The Shining. I could be terribly wrong because I haven't read The Shining in years, but I certainly loved grown up Danny waaaaaaay more than I liked Jack, and I loved Abra more than I liked Danny as a child. One thing I do know as a fact... I will never look at "innocent" summer vacationers travelling in RVs the same. EVER!

  • Andrea ❤Ninja Bunneh❤

    Once upon a time, there was a girl. She liked to read, but was at a crossroads between being too old for childish books, and a bit too young for cheesy romance novels with Fabio on the cover. The girl loved scary movies and all things horror and wondered if maybe there were things written like that. She asked the librarian, who handed her a book. The girl ran home and closed herself up in her room. She sat down and started to read a book called

    , by an author named Stephen King. She devour

    Once upon a time, there was a girl. She liked to read, but was at a crossroads between being too old for childish books, and a bit too young for cheesy romance novels with Fabio on the cover. The girl loved scary movies and all things horror and wondered if maybe there were things written like that. She asked the librarian, who handed her a book. The girl ran home and closed herself up in her room. She sat down and started to read a book called

    , by an author named Stephen King. She devoured that book and went on to read every single book by her new favorite author, including those under the name Richard Bachman. When those ran out, she explored different authors like Koontz, Saul, Cook, and Crichton, just to name a few. So many doors were opened and so many journeys taken, worlds explored, over many years. Maybe I'll get back to this story a bit later.

    When I heard that Doctor Sleep was coming out I immediately pre-ordered it on Amazon. I rarely do this, but for King I tend to make exceptions. Finally, the other day my Kindle got a present.

    I'll admit, for the first 15% of the book it was a bit slow for me. I started to panic, envisioning Under the Dome, which sits on my kindle shelf. A book that I've tried to read twice, without success. I didn't want Doctor Sleep, which features one of my favorite characters, to fall by the wayside and have the same fate. Luckily it picked up and I was trapped in the pages.

    Doctor Sleep is said to be The Shining 2. While some parts of this may be true, for the most part it's a standalone. You do not have to read The Shining to read this.

    . There is no spooktastic Overlook Hotel, it has long ago perished. The only real connection between the two books is Dan, our main. Dan, who was a five year old scared little boy in The Shining, now a man. A man who is a fucked up alcoholic hot mess.

    The villains aren't ghosts of a haunted hotel, but beings (like vampires, I guess), who kill children who Shine. Sucking up their essence as they die.

    I won't say more about the story. I'm not here to give a full blown play by play, because in essence, then why would you need to read the book?

    I can say this. If someone who had never read Stephen King, asked me if this should be their first book, I would say no. I would send them the direction of Cujo or Pet Sematary, or Carrie, Salem's Lot. This is a quieter Stephen King. It is not a horror story. There's no hiding under the blankets or checking the drain in the bathroom, looking for a creepy clown named Pennywise. The bad guys aren't scary. More like washed up. Shadows of what a bad guy should be. Stephen King knows how to write villains. Randall Flagg, Pennywise, Cujo, a baby named Gage, even a prison guard named Percy. I repeat, this is really not a horror story.

    For those of us who have read The Shining, what a joy it was to see some characters we loved from that book. I wish Tony had more of a story, I'm always curious about him. Perhaps a book for Tony, Mr. King?

    For me, reading Dan again was like meeting an old friend after many years. He was forever frozen as a boy in my mind. Now he has come full circle. When you finish a book, normally that's it. Time goes on, you read new books, get involved with new characters. They, in turn, become frozen. What a gift to be able to revisit a character after all this time.

    My final thoughts. I highly recommend this book. If you're holding out because you haven't read The Shining, don't. Doctor Sleep is well written, snarky at times as only Mr. King can be, and will suck you in. I even cried once or twice, yes, from The Master of Horror.

    Now after my ramblings are you still here, or have you forgotten the tale in the beginning of the review? If you're wondering what happened to the girl, well, she grew up and became a woman. Did she get a HEA? I don't know yet. I do know that she owes a love of reading to a certain author. How do you know, you ask? Well, because. Once upon a time, long ago, I sat down to read a book called

    , by an author named Stephen King. My journey isn't over.

  • Dan Schwent

    Dan Torrance grew up to be an alcoholic, just like his father. But now he's in recovery and working in a hospice where he uses his Shine to comfort people when they die. But what is his connection to a young girl named Abra Stone? And what does The True Knot, a traveling group of RV people, want with her?

    After all the glimpses shown in

    , I knew I'd be reading this one hot off the presses. Was I disappointed? Well, I don't think it was a home run.

    I loved the story of Dan Torrance, recoverin

    Dan Torrance grew up to be an alcoholic, just like his father. But now he's in recovery and working in a hospice where he uses his Shine to comfort people when they die. But what is his connection to a young girl named Abra Stone? And what does The True Knot, a traveling group of RV people, want with her?

    After all the glimpses shown in

    , I knew I'd be reading this one hot off the presses. Was I disappointed? Well, I don't think it was a home run.

    I loved the story of Dan Torrance, recovering from his experience at the Overlook with his parents in

    , only to become an alcoholic just like his old man. His road to recovery was well done and I loved how the connection to Abra Stone unfolded. Dan's friends were well done and I found myself dreading which one of them would die at the bloody conclusion, as is the fate of many Stephen King supporting cast members.

    There were some nice Easter eggs in Doctor Sleep. Charles Manx, Castle Rock, the Dark Tower, and probably a few others I've already forgotten. When Dan got a job at TeenyTown, I had flashbacks of Joyland. Maybe Joyland started life as a fragment of Doctor Sleep that got cut out like a bad appendix. Also, I have a feeling Stephen King read a book about carnies and felt the need to work as much lingo into his work as possible.

    Another thing I loved was the True Knot. I love the idea of a bunch of psychic vampires riding around in RVs, draining kids of their Shine to rejuvenate them. Rosie the Hat was pretty vile and her compatriots were almost as bad. I almost feared for Abra Stone's life.

    Almost. My main problem with the book is that Abra was too damn powerful and I never thought for a moment that she wouldn't survive. When she outmaneuvers the bad guys at every turn, there's no sense of jeopardy. The ending was straight from the Nerf factory. I don't remember another Stephen King book where so many of the good guys survived the final encounter.

    Still, it was a fun read and there were some tense moments. We'll call it a 3.5.

  • Will Byrnes

    There is a boy (now a man) a girl, a band of baddies with a charismatic leader, a coalition of the willing, battles to be fought, supernatural elements and magical powers. Stephen King was at this long before Harry Potter lived under the stairs. He has a preternatural (not to say supernatural) talent for writing kids, and can keep you turning pages, losing sleep, and getting back late to work from your lunch breaks.

    We will presume for the purposes of this review that you have read, or at least

    There is a boy (now a man) a girl, a band of baddies with a charismatic leader, a coalition of the willing, battles to be fought, supernatural elements and magical powers. Stephen King was at this long before Harry Potter lived under the stairs. He has a preternatural (not to say supernatural) talent for writing kids, and can keep you turning pages, losing sleep, and getting back late to work from your lunch breaks.

    We will presume for the purposes of this review that you have read, or at least seen one version of

    . If you have not, read no further, as there are details here that would be considered spoilerish were they to appear in a review of that book. And if you have not read

    you should probably do so before taking on

    , a sequel. Ok, everyone here has read

    , yes? All right, but we are using the honor system here, and do not want to ruin the fun of reading that one for anyone. So, as long as you’re sure…

    At the end of

    , three people survive the carnage, Danny Torrance, a five year old with a special gift, Wendy Torrance, Danny’s mother and newly widowed wife of the late Jack Torrance, and Dick Halloran, an employee of The Overlook and possessor of a gift like Danny’s, one that allowed him to hear Danny’s psychic 911 call and return from his home in Florida in time to do something about it. What happened next?

    King does not typically do sequels, if one does not count books that are part of a planned series, but

    One of the central features of

    was Jack’s Torrance’s battle with alcoholism. As with the real world, King’s fictional realm notes that alcoholism runs in families. And one of the criticisms of

    was that the possibility of Jack considering getting some help from AA is never even raised. If King has ever considered that to have been an oversight, I have not seen that interview. But it is clear that he has given the matter some thought.

    It gives nothing away to let you know that Danny is a true Torrance. Not only does he self-medicate to quiet the terrors that still haunt him, he is far from the best person he can be.

    All SK novels require a baddie, or a set of them. No disappointment here. King has again succeeded in taking the ordinary and making it horrifying.

    This wandering band call themselves

    . They feed on the essence of those gifted with the sort of talent people like Danny possess. It provides them with extraordinary longevity, but as with their Transylvanian counterparts, the need is ongoing and the supply is limited. Like right-wing politicians they are more than happy to gorge on the pain of others and are shown here feasting on the spirits set adrift on 9/11. The usual condiments for this substance they call

    will not do. The taste and benefit is enhanced, however, if their victims endure extreme and prolonged torture. Does Ted Cruz drive a Winnebago? King gives the members Damon Runyon-esque names, like Crow Daddy, Steamboat Steve and Tommy the Truck.

    By the time you finish reading

    you might have a new image of the top hat to consider next time you are planning a formal night out. We all have one, probably this one:

    But the baddie in Stephen King’s latest is likely to do for the top hat what this guy

    did for the derby. Rose O’Hara, the leader of a group called The True Knot, won’t leave home without it. It adds a nice visual element, calling to mind a certain

    , and making Rosie even more riveting.

    And what of our young heroine? Abra is born with a shining of prodigious proportions. (btw, the name Abra was inspired by Abra Bacon, a character in

    ) She manages to send out a signal even when she is newly arrived. She’s a good kid, despite scaring her parents on occasion with tricks like making all the silverware in the kitchen take to the air, or causing the odd earthquake when she does a mental

    (or if you prefer,

    ) Banner. Don’t make her angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry. Bad-ass teen girl power fuh shoo-uh. But, just as Danny needed Dick Hallorann and Tony, Abra needs help as well. That she and Danny will team up is a foregone conclusion.

    As for Danny, the shining never left him, despite his attempts to wipe it out with spirits of a different sort. But he finds the help

    needs and manages to put his talent to good use. He works in a hospice, the Helen Rivington House, in Frazier, NH, easing the transition for those near death, with the assistance of a resident feline, and earning himself the name

    , which also serves to remind us of what his parents called him.

    King has a bit of fun, naming the cat Azzie, short for Azreel, the archangel of death. Cute.

    What else do you need, really? Dark vs light, colorful baddies vs our everyman and everygirl. And that is indeed enough. But it is not all that King uses. He gives us a look at how people can really help people overcome, or at least handle their problems. When asked, in the NPR interview, whether his AA depictions were from personal experience, King says that the second part of AA stands for Anonymous, so he declined to offer a yes or no, however

    AA figures very large in this story, is central really. And the wisdom one can find in AA permeates the novel, from the importance of recognizing that we need help from others, to accepting our past and dealing with it, a very strong, serious element.

    King sets the time of the events by referring to external realities, like who the president is, calls on contemporary cultural references, such as a mention of the

    and a Hank Wiliams Jr song. He also mentions a variety of other writers in his travels, some approvingly, (John Sandford, George Seferis, Bernard Malamud, Bill Wilson) some not so much (the authors of the

    and

    series, and Dean Koontz and Lisa Gardner, although he may merely be playing with the latter two). He also drops in an Easter egg reference to

    and make two references (that I caught anyway) to his son, Joe’s, imagined world from Joe’s book,

    .

    It has been my experience with reading Stephen King that his conclusions sometimes offer a poor partner to the journey one takes in reaching them. That is much less the case here. The ending is not an alien spider disguised as Tim Curry with bad fashion sense or alien young playing with humans in a ham-fisted manner. And the journey is indeed fun. But I had some gripes. King gives Dick Hallorann a cameo here, which was fine, and the strongest of those. Tony returns for a look-see but goes alarmingly quiet at crucial moments. We could have used a lot more about Tony other than the weak explanation that is offered near the end. If the True Knot are so bad-ass, how come there are so few of them? There is an explanation offered of prey-predator stability of numbers, but I found that unpersuasive. And why the hell introduce

    This is one that actively irked.

    Sequels present a danger. One of the things that is stimulating about any book, any story is newness. That is why most sequels are not as popular as their predecessors. It is hard to avoid a been-there-done-that problem when working atop existing material. The next story in line is unlikely to retain the sparkle, the shine of what went before. Given the constraints,

    fares better than most as a follow-on. There is enough distance in the story from the events of the past, and little enough overlap with those characters that the story seems fresh. When events from

    are mentioned, they do inform the current action and do not distract much. In fact there could have been more of that. So, in that way, this is a very nice addition. There is another element involved. Any event, any activity, is a product of the thing itself and of the perspective from which we view or participate in it. I read

    many years ago. I was an adult then, in my late twenties, and remember it as a VERY SCARY story. I have not come across much in horror lit that is still scary in that way, in the several decades since. I will not have any nights (on in my case days) of lost sleep because of the images King has proferred. But then, I am getting on, and am looking at those scary things with aging eyes. Someone younger (which would be almost all of you reading this) might find them far more frightening than I did.

    So while

    might not cause much by way of lost rest, it is good, mainstream Stephen King and thus, hardly a snooze. The Doctor of Horror is in. Wake up!

    Posted October 4, 2013

    This review is cross-posted at

    =============================

    This is a wonderful interview with

    And another, this one from

    Here is

    And a

    by Sam Leith in The Observer section of The Guardian – I promise I did not read this until after I finished writing mine. But I confess to pangs of jealousy

    A few other King Family items I have reviewed

    By Stephen

    And by Joe Hill

    12/3/13 - The results are in and

    was voted the Goodreads Choice Award winner for horror

    12/16/13 -

    was named one of the

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  • Kemper

    Remember that psychic little kid in

    ? Have you ever wondered what he’d be like as an adult after surviving a haunted hotel that drove his drunken father crazy and gave him a case of the redrums? If so, you’re in luck because Stephen King has now told us what happened to Danny Torrance, and he’s just as screwed up from his experience as you’d expect him to be.

    Like his father, Dan has grown up to be a bad tempered drunk, and he uses the booze to blot out his psychic powers as he drifts

    Remember that psychic little kid in

    ? Have you ever wondered what he’d be like as an adult after surviving a haunted hotel that drove his drunken father crazy and gave him a case of the redrums? If so, you’re in luck because Stephen King has now told us what happened to Danny Torrance, and he’s just as screwed up from his experience as you’d expect him to be.

    Like his father, Dan has grown up to be a bad tempered drunk, and he uses the booze to blot out his psychic powers as he drifts from town to town working menial jobs. The early part of the book focuses on Dan hitting bottom, and then trying to pull himself together with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. He winds up with a job as an orderly at a hospice where he earns the nickname of Doctor Sleep for his ability to provide an easier death for the patients.

    Dan becomes aware of a little girl named Abra with a shining ability that dwarfs his own, but unfortunately Abra has also come to the attention of group of vampire like creatures calling themselves the True Knot. They pretend to be humans who roam the country as a harmless pack of tourists in RVs while they track down and feed on the psychic energy collected from torturing children with the shining, and Abra would be like an all-you-can-eat buffet to them.

    This book is almost two separate stories. One is about Dan Torrance struggling to come to terms with the legacy of his father, his abilities and his alcoholism. The other is about the battle to save a little girl from a pack of vicious monsters. King does a decent job of trying to make these two tales intersect while revisiting some elements from

    , but it ends up feeling like less than the sum of its parts. Frankly, I was far more interested in Dan’s battle with the bottle than another Stephen King story about a child in danger from a supernatural threat.

    It’s not that Abra vs. the True Knot is bad. There’s a lot of genuinely creepy dread to be mined from a pack of psychic vampires roaming the country while posing as harmless middle aged farts, and King knows how to milk every drop out of that concept. And I liked the character of Abra a lot. The idea of a powerfully psychic young girl with a bit of a mean streak was great. Kinda like if Carrie White would have had decent parents and a happy childhood.

    In fact, Abra’s a little bit too powerful because she seems fully capable of kicking ass even during her first encounter with the True Knot. So while there’s a lot of nice build-up, most of what happens seems anti-climatic.

    Plus, while there’s some callbacks to

    , they mostly feel tacked on, as if King had this basic idea and then figured out ways to work in Dan’s history where he could. It’s not really organic and doesn’t seem necessary. I also think there’s a gaping plot hole in the True Knot’s key motivation to grab Abra and their scheme.

    One word of warning for those who have only seen the movie and not read the book, King is basing this on his version, not the film and there a couple of significant differences. (I got a laugh that King couldn’t resist taking yet another shot at the Kubrick adaptation in the author’s note afterwards. I don’t think he’s ever getting over his dislike of the movie.) Also, I listened to the audio version of this, and the narration by Will Patton is simply outstanding.

    I feared the idea of King returning to one of his best known works, but it turned out to be a remarkably solid effort with a lot of things I liked about it. I only wish that that I’d have found the rest of the book as compelling as finding out what kind of man the kid from the Overlook Hotel grew up to be.

  • D. Hilliard

    Being a big fan of Stephen King, especially his early work, I waited with nervous anticipation for Dr. Sleep. I reread The Shining for the first time in years, just to reacquaint myself with the world of Danny Torrance and the Overlook Hotel. It was on my kindle within minutes of it being released, and I spent the past two afternoons ignoring housework in favor of diving into one of Kings rare sequels.

    So how does it measure up?

    The correct answer to that is “it depends.”

    If you are looking for a d

    Being a big fan of Stephen King, especially his early work, I waited with nervous anticipation for Dr. Sleep. I reread The Shining for the first time in years, just to reacquaint myself with the world of Danny Torrance and the Overlook Hotel. It was on my kindle within minutes of it being released, and I spent the past two afternoons ignoring housework in favor of diving into one of Kings rare sequels.

    So how does it measure up?

    The correct answer to that is “it depends.”

    If you are looking for a direct sequel to The Shining that recaptures the same sense of claustrophobic terror as the original, you are going to be disappointed. It does try to go for scares here and there, but on that level it comes nowhere close to it’s predecessor. If, on the other hand, you are looking for the next story in the life of Danny Torrance then you will probably find this much more satisfying.

    Dan Torrance is a grown man and an alcoholic who has hit rock bottom and is now trying to recover. He works at a hospice where he uses his talent to help dying patients pass over. Over time he becomes aware of another child with The Shining, and this girl is far more powerful than he was. But there is a group of “psychic vampires” roaming the country and feeding on children who shine, and he is going to get drawn into defending her against these monsters.

    Sadly, I think the monsters are one of the areas where this book falls short of what it could have been. They simply aren’t very frightening, and the one scene where they kidnap a boy to devour feels tacked on as if the author was trying to make them scarier while introducing a plot device for later. The problem here is that the author spends too much time in the heads of his bad guys.

    King is a master of characterization, and that shows with many of the characters in this book. You feel real sympathy for Dan Torrance, and connect with several of the other characters as well. At the same time though, he seems to have let that lead him to actually overdevelop some of the bad guys to the point they are merely antagonists, and just don’t inspire fear at all. Rose the Hat is no Walking Dude. Heck, despite her powers she isn’t even as scary as Jack Torrance was.

    But that is really the only flaw of the book. So the effect of it is, that as a horror book it’s not all that effective, but as a layered story with interesting characters possessing psychic powers, it succeeds in all kinds of ways. I absolutely do recommend this book, but just take it on its own merits.

    I give it four stars.

  • Dave

    Dan: Hi, I was a total scumbag, meaning I once swiped a few bucks, a horrible horrible thing for which I'll never forgive myself, and, oh yeah, almost forgot, I used to get in bar fights all the time and I for all I know, I killed people during a blackout. Anyhoo, nowadays I'm heroic. Seriously, I'm pretty much a saint. I have magic powers and it never even crosses my mind to profit from them.

    Abra: Hi, I'm a totally normal teen, you can tell because of all my pop references! Game of Thrones! Fru

    Dan: Hi, I was a total scumbag, meaning I once swiped a few bucks, a horrible horrible thing for which I'll never forgive myself, and, oh yeah, almost forgot, I used to get in bar fights all the time and I for all I know, I killed people during a blackout. Anyhoo, nowadays I'm heroic. Seriously, I'm pretty much a saint. I have magic powers and it never even crosses my mind to profit from them.

    Abra: Hi, I'm a totally normal teen, you can tell because of all my pop references! Game of Thrones! Fruit Ninja! I'm also all heroic, like, totally! I also have no imagination at all, just like Dan.

    Both: Together, we fight crime!

    Rose: Hi, I'm Rose, I'm super scary! Did you notice how convenient it is that we can't fly in planes? I mean, convenient for the heroes, not for me. We also are too good to use guns, despite the fact that we're as easy to kill, if not easier, than an ordinary human. Seriously, how the hell did we survive in medieval Europe, when getting around was a serious ordeal? Especially when me and my gang are hilariously incompetent. Anyway, I have a really cool hat.


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