In my last post I wrote about my thoughts on The Shining and having loved it I decided it would be a great idea to read its 2013 sequel Doctor Sleep. Returning to the now middle-aged and alcoholic Danny Torrance (sound familiar?), the story follows his journey into embracing the shining after coming off the booze, and his work helping terminal cancer patients reach the ‘other side’. I was pleased to see Danny using his abilities for a great cause and it was interesting to see that he had inherited a drinking problem from his father. The start of the book was promising and the continuation of the Torrance’s story after the Outlook Hotel allowed for some closure for fans of The Shining. However prior knowledge of the book is not essential as this also acts as a ‘previously on’ for the new reader.
In spite of this the introduction of Abra was for me, the decline of the book. There were parts where it felt more like young adult fiction than a Stephen King novel, as the sporadic pop culture references seemed like an attempt to relate to a younger audience. That aside the overall characterisation of Abra was pretty good for a middle aged, male author but I still feel that like Danny in The Shining, some parts of her mannerisms seemed too mature for her age. Again, this may be because of her ability to read the dark thoughts of the adults around her but the juxtaposition of her maturity with her love of her cuddly rabbit seemed out of place.
Another criticism I had was with the discovery that Danny and Abra’s mother were long lost half-siblings. The idea of Jack Torrance sleeping around during his drunken tirades is plausible but the fact that Danny happened to have a psychic connection with his niece just seems a bit far fetched.
Other than that I did enjoy Doctor Sleep and I would definitely read it again. The True Knot were adequate villains (although very easy to kill for steam sucking monsters), and the character of Rose the Hat was probably one of my favourites. I would have liked to learn more about her backstory but I suppose that would take up too much word space. I also loved that the Shining ability was explored more thoroughly and that we got to see how Danny and Wendy coped after the Overlook Hotel. Overall it was a good novel that had enough strong points to hold it up. 3/5