Doctor Sleep



Here is PMT’s first guest review.  Nick Cato (who used to be known as Nick the Yak) published Stink ‘zine throughout most of the ’80s and early ’90s, and he now writes old school horror, grindhouse and exploitation movie reviews for Cinema Knife Fight.

He also writes books and short stories, and book reviews for both Good Reads and The Horror Fiction Review.  He wrote this excellent review of Stephen King’s newest book (and sequel to The Shining) Doctor Sleep, and I liked it so much I asked if I could use it on PMT (as I haven’t had time to read the book yet, but it is on my list).  He said he’d be glad for me to use it, so here it is:


Doctor Sleep by Stepen King (2013)

King’s sequel to his 1977 classic THE SHINING picks up shortly after the destruction of the Overlook Hotel, then flashes forward a couple of decades to find Danny Torrance working in a hospice in New Hamsphire and dealing with his alcoholism through AA meetings. He still has the ability to “shine,” but not as strongly as when he was younger. His unusual skills do help the dying at his new job to pass over to the other side in peace and feeling redeemed, hence earning him the nickname ‘Doctor Sleep.’

Dan is contacted (spiritually/psychically) by a thirteen year-old girl named Abra, who happens to have the shine, too, and much stronger at that. It seems a group known as the True Knot are after her; they feed off children who have the shine to stay young and healthy, torturing them to death as they absorb their life’s essence (or “steam” as the novel puts it). The True Knot look like your average vacationers, roaming the country in RV’s, but they’re no longer human. Their leader, Rose, has been around a long, long time, and her beautiful features are merely a mask for an ancient creature. And when they learn of Abra’s intense power, they’ll stop at nothing to find her … especially after feeding off a young boy who has infected their ranks with the measles.

Fans will love the many references to THE SHINING here (my favorite being Danny learning how to deal with the female ghost from Room 237), and there’s also some interesting cross-references to Joe Hill’s latest novel N0S4A2. I like that the True Knot have made their home base on the grounds where the Overlook once stood, as it provides a great place for the inevitable final confrontation. But, when Dan, Abra, and Dan’s senior friend Billy finally confront Rose and co., their plans go off a little to easily, and what could have been an epic battle winds up being awfully short. But this is only a minor flaw in what I feel is one of King’s better novels in quite some time.

I don’t think anyone will find DOCTOR SLEEP scary, but I found myself engrossed in Danny Torrance’s struggle with the bottle as well as his mentoring of the young shiner, Abra. There’s also a great scene where Dan speaks with the Overlook’s now deceased chef Richard Halloran through the body of a dying French woman, and the True Knot’s feeding of a young little league player was quite disturbing.

This has the feel of some of King’s older works, and while not perfect, is one of his more satisfying recent novels.