Awesome. Just freaking awesome. If you didn’t know this about me yet, let me enlighten you….I am a HUGE Stephen King fan. And for a very long time now. I used to ride my bike up to the local used book store and buy his books when I was a kid, I think I was around 10 or so when I read my first Stephen King novel, and I was hooked. He was truly a huge part in what has became a life long love affair with books. Even when I was a teenager and far too cool to be sitting at home reading, I still managed to sneak in a King novel here or there. In fact I was about 16 when I read, the uncut version of The Stand, which is still to this day one of my all time favorite books I’ve ever read.
Ok, so now that you have an understanding of just how much I love King, you must know how crazy excited I was for Doctor Sleep to come out. The Shining was an incredible story and the idea of a story about Danny Torrance all grown up was absolutely thrilling to me. My friends, this sequel, 30 years in the making might I add, did not disappoint. Also I think the story line was a fresh and unexpected twist. I was very much expecting more ghosties, and while they were definitely present in the story, the real star of the show this time around were the equally chilling, True Knot.
I loved that the start of this book was had a little of the young Danny Torrance that we remember from The Shining. It of course took place after the horrifying stay at the Overlook Hotel, and it jumped around and gave you a glimpse of the first few years after that experience, while Danny was still just a boy. It eased you into seeing him as a man, and also reminded you just the type of things that he had endured and was continuing to deal with in life. It was also nice to see a few other familiar faces like Wendy and Dick Hallorann too. I have to say I was a little heart broken when it transitioned to a grown up Dan and he was struggling so hard with some of the same unfortunate afflictions that plagued his father, mainly alcoholism.
As sad as it was, it did make a lot of sense too though. I really liked that unlike dear old dad, Dan eventually dealt with being an alcoholic a completely different way, he went through AA. It was a stark contrast from what we had seen in the previous book with his father attempting a “white knuckle sobriety” approach. Through AA, some friends and a new mission in life, Dan found some peace, and I loved the way he ultimately ended up using his unique gift. Even more so, I loved that he also stepped into the role that Dick Halloran had played for him as a child, his teacher. Dick had helped Danny in knowing about and using his shining abilities, and it was really cool to see Dan in that role now with Abra.
Abra was really something special. It was amazing the things that she could do and sense, even as a baby. It was fun to she her and her powers grow over the years. I really liked that while she had some of the same abilities as Dan, she was also very unique and brought so much more to the story. Even with her powers aside, she was a very brave and interesting character, a great heroine. She didn’t back down in the face of evil and that’s pretty kickass in anyone, let alone a kid. She handled the True Knot and her abilities with unflinching courage.
The True Knot were a frightening bunch. Their survival hinged on the pain, suffering and untimely deaths of very special children, and they had been at it a very long time. “They eat screams and drink pain.”
. They fed on what they had called steam, which was essentially the essence of a kid with the shining. The way they traveled the country searching for their prey so unobserved and indiscernible was even more frightening still. They were true monsters, hidden behind ordinary faces, and sometimes that’s the scariest monster of all. You can’t always see those ones coming. The True Knot were lead by the big bad, Rose the Hat. “She’s the Queen Bitch of Castle Hell. If you mess with her, she’ll eat you alive.”
There were some pretty big revelations and wow moments throughout this book, but I don’t want to give any away. Some of them seriously knocked my socks off, I really never saw them coming. I really enjoyed getting a better look at the Torrance family as a whole too. There was a lot of talk about heredity and the things we pass along to our children, the shining in particular being one of them. It really left me wanting to know more about Dan’s father Jack, was that a big part of the reason he drank, was he attempting to suppress the shining in a way? How much do you suppose he had? Just a lot of things to wonder. I also really enjoyed how much everything really came full circle. There was a lot of that in this story. The final setting for the big showdown so great. It felt so right to come to an end where so much had started.
I am so happy to have read Doctor Sleep. It was an unexpected treasure. I never imagined there would be anymore after The Shining, so it was amazing to have this gem come along. I loved the story and continue to be an enthusiastic Stephen King fan! If you haven’t picked this up yet, do yourself a favor and do so soon.