Review: Doctor Sleep (The Shining Book 2 of 2)

Doctor Sleep - Stephen King

Doctor Sleep, published in 2013, is a sequel to The Shining which was published in 1977.   This story is a different kind of story, with a different kind of threat and a different feel to it. However, it doesn’t abandon its roots. Events from the first book are referred to many times, not really in detail but rather in little snippets of memory. Those events tie into this book in both small and not-so-small ways.


The young boy from The Shining, Danny, is one of the main characters in this story. The story takes place primarily during his adult years, although we do get some snippets from his childhood after the events from the previous book. A child named Abra, who also has a very strong dose of the shining, plays an equally important role in the book. They live in nearby towns and accidentally connect to each other telepathically. Danny, now called Dan as an adult, comes to serve as sort of a mentor for her, and he helps her deal with a threat to her life when she comes to the attention of a group of people called the True Knot who torture and murder people with the shining. The True Knot feeds off of the people who have the shining, sort of like vampires -- it’s what keeps them alive and they’re essentially immortal as long as they can keep finding people with the shining. The strong power Abra possesses is of course too powerful for them to pass up.


Both Dan and Abra were likeable characters. Early on in the story we find that Dan, in spite of his best intentions, has fallen into the alcoholism trap. I was worried at first that this book was going to repeat the pattern from the previous book. Fortunately Dan never falls to the same depths his father did, or his father’s father before him. I also liked that this book at least gave a somewhat believable justification for why Dan chose to drink. Dan has some bad moments, but he starts to get his head on straight pretty early in the story and, while alcoholism continues to be a major theme throughout the book, I was relieved that Danny became a compassionate and trustworthy adult who I enjoyed reading about.


I really didn’t think this was a scary story at all. There were a few creepy moments, I guess, but I’m starting to wonder if Stephen King’s books aren’t actually as scary as I thought they were when back I was on my horror kick during my pre-teens and early teens. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good story – I enjoyed the story and it held my interest well. I’m glad I re-read The Shining prior to reading this. It wasn’t at all necessary to understand it, but I felt like I had a better understanding of Dan and of some of the past events that influenced or hinted at things happening in this book.


My main complaint from the book is there were a couple things that seemed inconsistent/illogical. Explaining them requires major spoilers, one of which is about the end of the story, so don’t click unless you’ve read the book.

One thing that bugged my sense of logic was the way that, when Abra and Dan swapped bodies, problems affecting their bodies traveled with the person who owned the body. For example, when Abra was drugged after being kidnapped, Dan swapped bodies with her to help her combat her kidnapper. Abra’s body was drugged, so Dan should have suffered the same drugged state while he was in Abra’s body. However, Dan was fine. Abra, on the other hand, had to fight against falling asleep in Dan’s non-drugged body. That made no sense to me. Then later, Abra was telepathically joining Dan in Colorado, but instead of sharing his body like what had happened in earlier incidents, she was a separate ghost-like entity with the ability to interact with objects and people. It was never explained how or why this worked. Also, during that time Abra shared the pain Dan was feeling from the dying lady he was holding inside himself. That contradicted the earlier experience where, even when Dan was actually in Abra’s body, he didn’t experience her drugged state.

(show spoiler)