Book review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King


Angela Haffenden considers the latest offering from Stephen King:

The master of horror writers finally presents us with the sequel to The Shining. If you’ve ever seen the iconic film with the fabulous Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, you may have an urge to discover what happened to his telepathic son Danny. Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with the film or the book, it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of this latest novel. It stands alone as one of his best narratives.

We’re introduced to the thirty something Danny Torrance, a Danny Torrance far removed from the small survivor of the ghostly happenings at the Overlook Hotel. Despite vowing never to follow in his father’s foot steps, we find our hero at his lowest ebb, drinking, drug taking, and going home with women he picks up in bars. After a particularly regrettable night out, he decides enough is enough. He drifts to a new town, joins AA and gets a job at a hospice. Here he uses his natural talent to help the dying move on to the other side, with help from the resident cat, Azreel.

All is well in Danny’s new life until he is contacted by a fellow telepath, a young girl called Abra Stone. She witnesses the murder of a boy by a group who call themselves the “True Knot”. A vampire-like, life-sucking collective of evil who travel round America in unassuming camper vans and kill children with “the shining”, feeding off the “steam” they produce. The leader of the “True Knot” finds out about Abra, and makes it her mission to locate the young telepath. The future of the “true knot” is in danger and they believe Abra’s steam is their last hope. The unlikely quartet of Abra, Danny a family doctor and an ageing handyman go on the road, to stop them in their tracks.

Doctor Sleep is a road trip; it’s a story about battling addiction, growing up and family. You want to hate the “steam sucking” child killers, you want to hate Danny Torrence for being a drunk and not learning from his fathers mistakes. However you will find yourself sympathising with less than savoury characters.

Stephen King will always shock you, always scare you, and always half-convince you that there are supernatural beings hiding amongst us, ready to pounce when we’re at our most vulnerable.

If you’ve never read one of his novels, you can’t go wrong with starting with this, his latest. Then I challenge you not to want to read everything he’s ever written.

angela haffenden


Review by Angela Haffenden