It was Doctor Sleep that made me want to read The Shining. So I set out to read the scary story of the Torrance family who hole up at the Overlook hotel for a winter and face all kinds of crazy stuff, like ghosts (horribly ugly ones), and a chiming clock (hello, Poe) and a fire hose that is a fire hose (but not really), and some scary hedge animals (now I think maybe “topiary” is a contraction of top scary). I loved The Shining, with all the love for horror I have in me, and I placed the book on a shelf with Dracula and The Oxford Book of Gothic Stories and thought, now that was one heck of a great scary story. Then I read the sequel.
It’s never a good thing to expect a lot from a sequel, and yet I did. Danny Torrance’s story was one I was looking forward to rediscover and there were so many things I was hoping to find. Would he end up an alcoholic like his father? Will he keep in touch with Hallorann, the one who saved him? And who will he save in return and from what? All the answers are there but no matter how hard I tried, I just could get into this new story – a group of ordinary looking people called the True Knot who wander across America hunting for children with the shining, only to kill them and feed on their dying breath, the steam. And a special little girl called Abra whose psychic powers make her a top priority for the group, especially now that they are sick and dying. Danny is the one who’s supposed to help her, just like Hallorann helped him, because life is a wheel and now it’s turning and it’s time to pay back.
The first part of the book was slow going – the story picks up a few years after the horrific experience of the Torrance family at the Overlook hotel. Danny’s gift, the shining, is both a blessing and a curse and as he gets older he makes some poor choices in dealing with it. He also uses it to assist the elderly patients of a hospice on their dying bed, and this is what brings him the name Doctor Sleep.
I liked all the references to The Shining and I think the book would have been less enjoyable had I not read these two one after the other. But the horror part was just a flicker, and not a very strong one at that, and I was left wanting more. Maybe one of his next releases for this year, Revival, will bring back that horror element that was so powerful in The Shining. I look forward to reading it.
My rating: 3/5 stars
* Read in March 2014