Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

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Cannonball Read V: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

By Lady Cordelia | Book Reviews | October 31, 2013 | Comments ()


I was a huge Stephen King fan when I was a teenager. I think Dead Zone was my first, which absolutely scared the beejeezus out of me, and then I slowly worked my way through the lot - always finding something new at the library or a secondhand bookshop. I always had a preference to the novels I read back in the heyday - Salem’s Lot, Christine, The Shining, It… Some of the later novels weren’t really my cup of tea, so I stopped seeking them out. But hearing that Doctor Sleep was a sequel to The Shining was enough to get me back on track, and this book is absolute classic King.

Doctor Sleep is the story of Danny Torrance, now a grown man. His psychic abilities - his “shine” - has lessened now that he is older, but he is still haunted by memories of his experience as a child, and embraces alcoholism in an attempt to block everything out. This of course creates new demons and Dan is in a self-destructive spiral. Now working as an orderly in a hospice, Dan uses his abilities to assist the passing of the residents, and gains the nickname Doctor Sleep.

Abra is a young girl with a very strong shine. She is being pursued by members of the True Knot, a vampire-like group who feed on “steam” which emanates from children with shine as they die. The True Knot travel constantly across the US in an RV convoy, searching for their victims. They appear as completely harmless seniors, totally escaping notice. Abra becomes aware of them and reaches out to Dan to help her.

Because this is a Stephen King book, there is obviously a whole lot more than that going on. This is a fast paced book that really sweeps you along. There is a real sense of peril, compelling characters and great dialogue. I loved a couple of the throwaway references to other books - nicely played. I’ve read a lot of negative reviews about this novel, basically coming down to the fact that this isn’t as good as The Shining. To me, I think that I have a sense of nostalgia about all of King’s early novels that will always make them seem to be the classics, but I did find this to be an enjoyable read.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read V. Read all about it , and find more of Lady Cordelia’s reviews on the group blog.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the affiliate links
in this this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)

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  • stryker1121

    Was really disappointed with Doc Sleep...the second half of the book is particularly dire IMO. Not to give too much away but I did not like how King handled the villains and the last act doesn't feel like it has any stakes..the tension is just not there and King's usually a master at creating that type of atmosphere.. Shame because I liked 11.22.63 and Full Dark No Stars. The latter in particular has some great horror elements and a very dark tone.

  • I haven't enjoyed his new books in a looooooooong time and the thought of little Danny Torrance growing up to be a drunk, hospital orderly (like his grandfather?) breaks my heart. And, of course, I'm going to read it.

    Stephen King and Joe Hill wrote a short story for Esquire or GQ or one of those magazines a year or two ago. It was wonderfully dark and gruesome. Throwback SK.

  • I can't wait to read this one, love me some good Stephen King! I will have to add this to my Xmas list though because I spent too much this year on books since I have been fighting with the library (they said I damaged a book when I take excellent care of them, jerks!)

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    I love King, but I've always found he has trouble wrapping up his books. The Stand, Under the Dome, Dreamcatcher, and more have really odd/silly endings. It's less noticeable in his short stories, which I think are usually tremendous.

  • jennp421

    Agree but he actually managed to wrap this one up really well. I was pleasantly surprised.

  • jennp421

    This is definitely my favorite of King's recent novels. Under the Dome had the horrible ending, and while a lot of people loved 11/22/63, I thought it was too longwinded about stuff and too nostalgic about the good ole days. This one was great, though.

  • apsutter

    Cell was alright

  • axis2clusterB

    I absolutely loved this book. I re-read The Shining to get ready for Doctor Sleep, and was surprised when I actually enjoyed Doctor Sleep more.

  • mswas

    I love to re-read. I may just do this!

  • I was hugely unimpressed with "Under the Dome" so I've been off King for a while. Then I read the very good "Full Dark, No Stars" and I'm reading "Joyland" right now and loving it. "The Shining" is one of my favorite books, I've read it at least 3 times so I've had my doubts about "Doctor Sleep", especially when I read the premise. Sounds like it may be worth my time after all, good review!

  • Melina

    Joyland was a good read!

  • JenVegas

    I'm almost done with this book. It is a very quick read although it's not easy schlepping the hardcover around on the subway (it was a gift.) This is quickly rising in the ranks as one of my top 3 favorite King stories of all time. The character development for Dan Torrance is so well handled. Not heavy handed in the exposition, just well crafted. It really is a throw back. Reminds of Bag of Bones - simple but super scary.

  • bastich

    Great review. Thank you!

    I hope that this book is the start of a trend of King revisiting characters from his earliest works.

    (*cough* Firestarter *cough*)

  • axis2clusterB

    I would LOVE to find out what happened to Charlie.

  • simplysarah

    I've been wanting to read this since I first heard about it but have been skeptical of getting it. I think now, knowing it's more old King than new King, I must get it!

  • Siege

    So much agreement with your last paragraph -- of COURSE it isn't as good as The Shining, that book is unbelievable. But Doctor Sleep was just fine on its own, and lots better than some of the stuff King has put out over the last several years (and I say that as fan).

  • Legally Insignificant

    His son, Joe Hill, also has a new book out, NOS4A2. I've been reading it as fast as possible because 1. it's really good and 2. it gives me some weird parasomnia that my wife does not appreciate.

  • jennp421

    NOS4A2 and Dr. Sleep actually reference each other. Hill makes a passing comment about the True Knot, and one of King's characters threatens a child with Charles Manx.

  • simplysarah

    I've heard his son is a pretty good author but haven't read any of his stuff yet.

  • stryker1121

    He's good and definitely has his own voice. More gothic horror than his old man. It's not like I read Hill and think he's King, Jr or anything. Check out Horns, it's his best book. NOS4A2 ain't bad but I didn't love it.

  • Melina

    Joe Hill is pretty awesome. Before I knew that he was Stephen King's son, I kept thinking, "this stuff seems very King-esque". NOS4A2 is a great book (although I wanted more of Christmastown! It's a terrifying place!). Horns was a fantastic book as was Heart Shaped Box.
    I just started Dr. Sleep and I'm digging it.

  • Legally Insignificant

    Horns is also being made into a movie. Heart-shaped Box is super creepy too. Also, he does the graphic novel, Locke & Key.

  • JenVegas

    He's super good. Very influenced by his father in the best way possible. Horns is a fantastic read.

  • axis2clusterB

    I just re-read Horns. Such a good book.

  • NateMan

    I'm about halfway through this audiobook - narrated by the fantastic Will Patton - so I only skimmed your review, but I'm loving it. The banal horror is more frightening than the monsters. It's damned good.

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