I never considered myself an author fan until I encountered Stephen King. His scare tactics are an adrenalin high, but what keeps me coming back is his dependable unpredictability. Each novel makes me wonder, what will he offer up this time?
Doctor Sleep is a sequel written thirty-six years after the original story involving Dan Torrence. It’s a stand-alone that coaxes you to read The Shining either for the first or second time. If I didn’t have 5 TBR piles I’d happily experience the fright for a third. The Shining was my first SK novel and the one that scared me the most. I never wanted to put it down, but the doings at The Overlook Hotel freaked me out so much I couldn’t even look at the book’s cover once the sun started to set.
Doctor Sleep didn’t paralyze me with fear, but I was equally spooked and riveted, reading it in less than a week. And like each of the books in King’s The Dark Tower series, the sequel to The Shining was worth the wait.
FEAR stands for Fuck Everything And Run.
—old AA saying
AA true-isms are woven throughout Doctor Sleep. The saying above is one of three that kick off the novel. In just seven words King sets the mood, the pace of the novel and keys us into Dan Torrence’s emotional state at the starting block. Unrest is a common denominator for all of King’s main characters. Their unsettled nature keeps our interest peaked.
There came a time when you realized that moving on was pointless. That you took yourself with you wherever you went.
No matter how scared or perplexed his characters, there isn’t a coward among them. They are sharp individuals, aware of risks—death, primary among them—and they’re still willing to engage in battle because, in addition to their bravery, King’s characters are desperate to protect the people they love and fortify the presence of Good in the world.
Dan Torrence, Abra Stone and the True Knot are generations apart, living in different areas of the country. They have their own issues and obstacles to sort through. Their paths don’t need to cross, but we know they will. What we don’t know is how. This is the secret behind King’s yarn-spinning genius. He sets us up, leads us along a path and for a glittering moment we think we know where he’s going, then he slam dunks us somewhere else, in the midst of another fix. His unpredictability keeps us tearing through the pages and makes Doctor Sleep a slump free novel you won’t want to miss.