Doctor Sleep: “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream. “

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I have finally finished reading Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep.” It was a gift from a co-worker and out of all the three books I have written in my wishlist, she bought me this one and I couldn’t be happier with it. (Thanks again, Yumi! :))

Out of all the Stephen King books I have read, my favorite has to be “The Shining.” It was a terrific read. Very scary, very creepy. I remember getting goosebumps when I got to that part when Danny Torrance stepped inside Room 217 and met the dead and decaying Mrs. Massey. Then fear had a choke-hold on me while I was reading that part where Jack Torrance finally started to lose his mind, talking to people who were long dead (especially that creepy Lloyd guy). And then the scenes that followed after that… *shudder* Yep. “The Shining” has to be the scariest King book I have ever read. (I talked about that here quite briefly.)

“The Shining” was about five year-old Danny Torrance, his parents Jack and Wendy, and their stay in the Overlook Hotel. The said hotel is haunted but it’s more than your average haunted hotel story. The evil spirits present there are enough to scratch on the minds of both guests and employees there. And they want the little boy with the so-called shining. They go to great lengths to get him through his father, Jack: loving and witty at best, alcoholic and bad-tempered at worst. The book follows the Torrances’ adventures (misadventures, more likely?) in the Overlook Hotel. Fast-forward to years and years and years later and you get its sequel, “Doctor Sleep.”

I wasn’t expecting much when I started reading the sequel, to be honest. In my head and heart, nothing beats “The Shining” but I was eager and curious to know what happened to the little boy who witnessed and went through horrible, unspeakable, unnatural things in his childhood. Danny Torrance had my sympathy and I was hoping for the best for him. I needed to read “Doctor Sleep” because of that. The book was lengthier than “The Shining” but was it scary? Scarier, even? Let me just put it this way: While it’s not as scary as I hoped it would be, it was a pretty damn good horror book. I see Danny as an eight year-old still haunted by what he experienced as a five year-old in the Overlook Hotel. I see him as a ten year-old visited by another spirit from that hotel. I see him as a grown-up man, troubled and a drunkard (he is his father’s boy, after all). While Stephen King was weaving the personality of a grown-up Danny Torrance, he was also pulling in the characters of the True Knot and Abra Stone, a 12 year-old girl whose shining (sixth sense) is stronger and brighter. That’s where it gets creepy and scary and evil. While the True Knot are labeled as vampires, they were not what I had in mind. How they feed and how they hunt and turn others work differently in this book. What scared me the most about them was how they prey on kids with special abilities, like Abra. How they kill them without mercy for the sake of their “steam.” Rose the Hat, one of the main antagonists, scared the crap out of me. She is pure evil and is hell bent on going after Abra, both for revenge and for her steam. When Danny and Abra finally meet, all hell breaks loose. Because what else is there left to do when a shine meets another shine and the True Knot is after one of them?

“Doctor Sleep” has some scenes that reference the things that happened in “The Shining” and they were bittersweet moments. My heart broke for Danny over and over again throughout the book because I could never quite imagine him all grown-up and matured. He will always be the courageous little boy in “The Shining” for me, the one who learned to read during his stay in the Overlook Hotel, the little boy who loved his father too much, and the one who clung to Tony (his “invisible friend”) both for comfort and warning.

I will not talk too much about “Doctor Sleep” here, as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you if you’re about to read it. (Which I highly recommend you do.) But here’s my final take on the book: It’s scary enough yet the story has a heart. Here are some of my favorite quotes from it:

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”

“…she knew that shadows could be dangerous. They could have teeth.”

“We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.”

“Because that was then and this is now. Because the past is gone, even though it defines the present.”

“Because everything that goes around comes around. Maybe it’s luck or maybe it’s fate, but either way, it comes back around.”

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