Over 35 years ago literary genius Stephen King introduced us to a world of the paranormal through the psychic abilities of a little boy named Danny Torrance in his novel, The Shining. Most are well familiar with King’s tale about the Torrance family, and how Danny’s “shining” ability came into play when evading his crazed father who succumbed to the Overlook Hotel’s ghastly visions and inebriating drinks that beckoned the man to attempt to murder his wife and son. And though Danny survived his father’s onslaught, one could only speculate the immense mental and emotional anguish that the boy would encounter throughout his life as a result of the happenings at the Overlook Hotel. How would the child adapt on his journey to adulthood? What grave adventures would Danny’s psychic connection with the supernatural bring him on next? Were his father’s inner demons lurking somewhere deep inside him? The multitude of questions stirred in the pit of King’s mind for a generation before, fittingly in the age of sequels, King put the answers to print in The Shining’s follow-up novel, Doctor Sleep.
Outspokenly dissatisfied with Stanley Kubrick’s popular adaptation of The Shining, King chose to ignore the film’s existence when creating the novel’s sequel, claiming that the written work was the true story of the Torrance family. This may cause some confusion to those who have seen the film, but not read the novel, as the endings are much different.
Doctor Sleep explores the life of an adult Dan Torrance in the present day. Torrance is now a recovering alcoholic and hospice orderly who drinks in order to dull his psychic “shining” ability. When he does succumb to his powers, Dan uses them to aid dying patients in their passing. Dan also uses his “shining” in order to help mentor and protect a young girl named Abra Stone. A strange cross-country group called The True Knot is pursuing Abra, who also possesses psychic abilities. The True Knot feeds off of the psychic energy of children with “the shining, causing Dan to intervene, and erupting in a war between sides.
The overarching question surrounding Doctor Sleep is whether or not it lives up to its predecessor. King took a great risk when he chose to concoct a sequel to one of the most popular horror novels of all time, especially 35 years after the fact. Though Doctor Sleep is not as frightening as The Shining, the story is a fitting and adventurous continuation of the first book. King has matured as a writer. The author has truly harnessed his craft, and used it to construct a compelling story that enraptures the reader, dragging them to the depths of a world of the unexplainable. Like nearly any story that Stephen King creates, Doctor Sleep is an instant classic that is worthy of praise. You don’t need to be a psychic to see that coming.