Book Review Stephen King’s ‘Doctor Sleep’

Doctor Sleep

Though incredibly prolific, Stephen King has been loathe to produce sequels to his works. With The Shining — considered by many to be his greatest novel — he makes an exception: a riveting waking nightmare called Doctor Sleep.

Due Tuesday, Sept. 24 from Scribner ($30), it revisits the character of The Shining’s supernaturally gifted young Danny Torrance, now grown and nearing middle age as he fends of his late father’s alcohol demons and applies his “shining” powers at a hospice where the old go to die.

In the process he encounters Abra, a young girl with even greater powers, who becomes  target of a nomadic group of power devourers called the True Knot. They’ll stop at nothing to siphon Abra’s life force to perpetuate their long, vampirish lives — and Danny, now Dan, most stop them.

It’s not as if King rarely revisits his works. Characters and places from his novels often arise in one book or another, constituting a virtual King universe.

But Doctor Sleep doesn’t depend on the past and Dan’s traumas at the Overlook Hotel, instead unfurling his years-later grim adventure as his own man.

In a way, Doctor Sleep recalls just as much another early King novel, ‘Salem’s Lot, since the True Knot, while not bloodsuckers, are akin to the evil, ruthless, life-eating vampires of that book.

But it’s also its own entity and should be accessible to anyone who hasn’t read those earlier works. As such, Doctor Sleep is the definition of success as a literary sequel: It lives up to the original, while also standing on its own.

— Bruce Westbrook

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