It’s been a while since my since my last book review. It’s also been awhile since my last re-read of a Stephen King novel. I was so caught up with my latest fascination over dystopian YA novels that I almost forgot why King is my favorite writer and just how much I love “The Shining.” Fellow horror readers, say no more.
Meet “Doctor Sleep”, who is really Danny Torrance all grown-up. He started his road to adulthood with a path that was not too far from his father’s: the ill-fated Jack Torrance, he of the promising writing career, delicate temper, and love for booze. As Dan would have it, he spent most of his adulthood riddled with alcohol, flying tempers, and bar fights. Like father, like son indeed. Buckle up yourself for one hell of a ride as we go through the sequel of “The Shining.”
We left Danny as a little boy then, around seven or eight years old, sitting by a lake, and talking to Dick Hallorann. Remember him? The well-meaning cook of The Overlook hotel who managed to get pulled into the horror of the events because he also had the so-called shining and Danny (then just six years of age) needed him. Called out to him with his mind.
In the last few pages of “The Shining”, we find Dick telling Danny one of the most beautiful, raw lines about the reality of life:
Danny? You listen to me. I’m going to talk to you about it this once and never again this same way. There’s some things no six-year-old boy in the world should have to be told, but the way things should be and the way things are hardly ever get together. The world’s a hard place, Danny. It don’t care. It don’t hate you and me, but it don’t love us, either. Terrible things happen in the world, and they’re things no one can explain. Good people die in bad, painful ways and leave the folks that love them all alone. Sometimes it seems like it’s only the bad people who stay healthy and prosper. The world don’t love you, but your momma does and so do I. You’re a good boy. You grieve for your daddy, and when you feel you have to cry over what happened to him, you go into a closet or under your covers and cry until it’s all out of you again. That’s what a good son has to do. But see that you get on. That’s your job in this hard world, to keep your love alive and see that you get on, no matter what. Pull your act together and just go on.
“The Shining” ends shortly after that. It’s heartbreaking and bittersweet. Once you’ve finished reading the book, it makes you wonder what kind of man Danny Torrance would be when he grows older. And that is exactly what “Doctor Sleep” gave us: Dan in his adulthood, drinking himself to numb the pain, memories, and confusion that came with his extraordinary gift. What happened to him and his parents in The Overlook years and years ago still haunts and taunts him. He drinks to blunt those memories and feelings. Sometimes, he also turns to drugs. Then his wake-up call came, harsh and frightening because it’s reality. It came in the form of a bar chick and her toddler in diapers with “starfish hands” reaching out for the coke, saying it was candy (“cannie!”). Soon after that, Dan Torrance with the shining and not much else (except for a really bad hangover) was determined to pull himself together and leave all of it behind. In New Hampshire, he found a new life, new friends, and a job in a hospice. All was going well. For the first time after a long time, Dan Torrance was leading a good life. Until…
Until thirteen year-old Abra Stone reached out to him (telepathically) to help her with the baseball kid and the hat lady she’d seen in her mind’s eye. From there on, Dan hits another series of hellish moments. The True Knot is pure, unrelentless evil. They prey on children who have the same gift as Dan and Abra, sucking in their steam (which is basically their essence). When the True Knot crossed paths with Abra and Dan, the battle of good and evil begins.
I love, love, love this book because it’s really horror. While it’s true that ghosts that make things go bump in the night don’t make much of an appearance and that the True Knot are basically vampires, the way the story unfolded made it horrifying. Don’t let me get started on how those evil steam suckers got the baseball kid. If it’s not creepy and frightening enough that they are offing children, I would like to get to know you and pick your brain because really. How do you do it? How do you not find it scary that a bunch of evil immortals are out for blood — sorry, steam — and will do anything to locate those gifted children? And the way they kill… *shudder*
There are a lot of tight, tense scenes in “Doctor Sleep.” I kept turning to the next page, eager to know what’s going to happen next. With a very creepy, evil bunch as villains and an interesting mix of well-meaning characters, the story was very well executed. There is no doubt about it: This is one of Stephen King’s books which brings out the true meaning of horror. I highly recommend it if you love horror. You can read an excerpt by clicking this link. You can also know more about “Doctor Sleep” as a book and other artworks / projects by visiting Cemetery Dance. It’s worth a visit to look at their artworks. Any horror fan would love it there.