Book Train Staff Pick: ‘Doctor Sleep’ by Stephen King
by Carole O'Brien, Time Out Book Critic
Friday, October 25, 2013
Little Danny Torrance is all grown up, but the terrifying events of years ago in an old hotel isolated by a
Colorado snowstorm are never very far away.
Even though his friend and protector, Dick Hallorann, taught him how to lock the “ghostie people” away, he couldn’t lock away the memories or stop the nightmares. Those were the real ghosts, said Dick. After what alcohol did to his dad, Danny couldn’t imagine he would ever drink, but “Your mind was a blackboard. Booze was the eraser.” In drunken unconsciousness Dan still dreams about the Overlook and room 217, but when he wakes up at least he doesn’t remember those dreams.
The Shining isn’t as powerful in Danny now as it was when he was a kid, but it is still strong and alcohol muffles it. Bouts of drunken oblivion interspersed with periods of sobriety during which he can work take him from town to town, moving northward. He is good at what he does, helping people in nursing homes and hospices, easing them through their passing to the world beyond — which Dan certainly knows exists. Eventually he finds himself in Frazier, N.H., Home of Teenytown! And, in spite of the snow and looming fearsomeness of the White Mountains, he stays.
On the day Abra Rafaella Stone is born, Dan is attending the eighth of his ninety AA meetings in ninety days. Sitting in the front row, holding the little notebook his sponsor gave him, Dan carefully prints ‘ABRA’ and he wonders, “Do I know this name?” Abra’s Shining is brilliant and tremendously powerful. As Abra grows older, Dan becomes more and more aware of her presence, and Abra finds comfort in her awareness of Dan’s existence. It is only natural that when, at age 12, she becomes aware of something terrifying and horrible, Dan is the person to whom she reaches out.
Rose the Hat wears her jaunty top hat at an impossible angle. She is stunningly beautiful and she is the leader of the True Knot, a group of almost immortal evil beings who live off the “steam” given off by children with the Shining when they are tortured and killed. Seemingly innocent looking, the True travel the roadways in RVs searching out these gifted children, and the power of Abra’s Shining is like a homing beacon to them.
The master of horror storytelling has done it again. King’s latest is one of his best. This sequel to “The Shining” is very worthy of that earlier gem. Drawing on many of his familiar themes and images, King has crafted a story that will draw you along and keep you up at night — just in time for scary Halloween reading.