Doctor Sleep – A Review

I might be one of two Stephen King fans who have not read The Shining. The classic staple in the Stephen King diet. I don’t like things that go boo in the night partly because of The Shining movie version. Stanley Kubrick did a great job forever immortalizing Jack Nicholson as the scary ass crazy man. Sorry Jack, Rom-Coms just don’t make up for this.

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And while I knew Stephen King wasn’t the biggest fan of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation, I couldn’t get past the idea of reading a book about ghostie people (smirks over the inside joke) and a raging  I-Must-Kill-My-Family-Father that the movie impressed upon me.

Skip to 2018.

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Doctor Sleep didn’t hit my radar when it came out. I believe books find you when then find you and I am glad for the time lag. The reader me in 2013 would have enjoyed the ride but I think some of the nuances would have been missed since maturity of the reader adds weight to this book’s various themes.

There is no need to be familiar with The Shining to say Doctor Sleep is a great book. Great sequel worthy of the original or better, I can’t say. I only know that this book had all the highs. Page flipping, staying up long after your eyes burn for sleep, and the hook firmly planted in this dear reader’s mouth, you betcha. Doctor Sleep offered up familiar Stephen King fair served just right and with a twist. As a Constant Reader some things you do see coming. Even King has his tells.

He writes with a knowing that all things come out in the wash and that what matters most is always the human condition. That is what has always had me clamoring for more. Plus he tells a damn fine story. Doctor Sleep manages to capture that magic in a bottle I have always loved – his ability to dangle a string of hope, a glimmer of light even as he terrifies you in the dark.

There was only one plot element that felt a tad over the top and surprisingly Hallmark-y. So expect a little pull on the old heart string. King has never promised happy endings but this story did come with a nice little bow. It does all come back around and here I feel remiss at not having read The Shining. For at its heart, Doctor Sleep is a story about redemption and love. He unmasks the monsters. How they are viewed will depend upon the wisdom in the eyes through which you see them.

If you are worried about having to read The Shining for Doctor Sleep to make sense, relax. King does a mighty fine job of bringing us all up to speed post Danny’s Overlook days. The beginning is devoted to little Danny in typical creepy King fashion that I am sure readers of The Shining will appreciate. King also takes great care to invite new fans (with no knowledge of either the movie or the book) into Danny’s world and of course, his shine.

The story does take gritty steps setting up Dan’s alcoholic bottom and introducing Andrea. They pass quickly and while AA does feature in Dan’s life, there is balance and equal weight is given to the other parts of the story. Doctor Sleep is crafted with psychological care. It does deal with demons, alcoholic and otherwise. We all have secrets, the ones we bury, the ones we try to outrun and the ones we think will kill us if we were to ever claim them our own.

I’d say I’m looking forward to the movie but I have a feeling it won’t give me the up close and personal feel the novel does. It is a gem of a book and equally as worthy of a read is the Author’s Note. Which brings me to my last comment, strictly for the horror master himself. “Hey Stephen, any idea what happened to the kid from Doctor Sleep? I’ll bet she’s a pistol.”

Author/Contributor: Teresa Little

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