Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I should first add a caveat to that Five Star rating - I read The Shining in 1980, when I was 13, and it was my second King after ‘Salem’s Lot. That rating is at least one star higher - maybe two - than it should be, based on the nostalgia of a Constant Reader happy to spend some time with the now-adult Danny Torrance.
And it’s the early Danny Torrance sections of Doctor Sleep which stand out, for me. Seeing Dan go through the same struggles with alcohol as his father, and seeing him overcome them - or keep them at bay - is the meat of the book. Catching up with Dan as he hits his lowest ebb - drifting, drinking, friendless and alone (with both mother Wendy and shining mentor Dick Hallorran out of his life) - and watching him claw his way to sobriety and some kind of normal life is incredibly heartwarming.
But when Dan stops drinking, the shining returns.
Abra Stone - 12 years old and with a stronger shining than Danny ever had - is being hunted by the True Knot, eternal creatures who feed on the shining of dying children (this is a neat flip side to Dan’s eventual job working in a hospice where he (the Doctor Sleep of the title, as he was ‘Doc’ in The Shining) eases the dying as they pass), and who discover Abra and seek her out. Abra is a good character (probably as good as someone King’s age can write a teenage girl), but the True Knot are formless, evil-for-its-own-sake cardboard cut-outs - a bit of variance and remorse would have gone a long way to fleshing them into characters of their own.
Plot-wise, Doctor Sleep is a bit A-to-B-to-C, and Abra’s ability to constantly thwart her pursuers - largely down to the leader of the Knot consistently and illogically underestimating her time and again - is a little disappointing.
But King makes a couple of connections that made me smile, and Dan’s eventual success brought a tear to my eye, and I was only ever here to visit with that kid again, so this is Five Star stuff for me.
View all my reviews