Long awaited sequels are usually a serious disappointment especially if the author happens to be one of your favorites. You debate over whether you should even read the second book because nothing could compare to the original. You pray that the characters are strong enough to get you through the rehashed plot.
Surprisingly, the sequel to “The Shining ” does not let you down. “Doctor Sleep” actually ambushed me with its unique twists and turns from the labyrinth of the original Overlook Maze of Terror that a small boy had to navigate to find his freedom, to the adult trials of Dan Torrance shaking free his vices, addictions and fears while battling old demons. “Doctor Sleep” stands on its own. You do not have to read “The Shining” to really enjoy the sequel. (Although, if you haven’t read The Shining I really recommend you do.)
The book opens with Danny Torrance in the years just following his escape from The Overlook Hotel with his mother Wendy. There is a quick flash back to the events that happened at the hotel and some appearances of ghosts past that have the little boy, Danny, still fearing for his life. A friend from the hotel who also has psychic gifts similar to Danny, Dick Hallorann, helps him through this time period and teaches him mind techniques that he will find useful through out his life. The psychic gift of the shining is pervasive throughout the book and Danny soon becomes adult Dan Torrance who attempts to mask the gift through various addictions. As the book progresses, it appears that the demonic influences did not disappear even after the Overlook Hotel is burnt down. They have been slowly devouring Dan over the years. The hotel no longer stands but it becomes a clear and present danger attracting new and malevolent forces.
As if poor adult Danny is not dealing with enough, his inner child is attracting another psychic child, Abra. She is similar to his former innocent soul and their bond draws to him the bedeviled creatures that haunt her. These creatures enjoy psychic vampirism of childhood energy through physical torture and death. These soulless monsters get their life substance by inhaling the child’s “steam ” as they go through the stages of fear pain and death. Danny, Dan or “Uncle Dan” is now a facilitator at a hospice helping the elderly and infirmed face their mortality, brings his full personae together to get past his own weaknesses and come to the aid of the little girl Abra to help her in the fight for her life against the inconceivable.
Can the fight for life and justice be ever more immediate and necessary when protecting innocent children? Steven King plays the face off between good and evil once again with the style and fortitude of “The Stand”, the book that presented the match of all time. The resolution is thought provoking and you will find yourself losing sleep until you finish the last page.