- Listening Length: 18 hours and 35 minutes
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio, September 24, 2013
- Source: Publisher
We’re all familiar with Danny Torrance, the young boy who, with his mother, barely survived a horrific experience at the Overlook Hotel. Now an adult, Dan Torrance continues to fight the evil that haunts him. Despite promises to avoid becoming an alcoholic like his father, his past haunts him and he succumbs to alcohol. An experience after a drunken stupor causes Dan to hit bottom. He plants his roots in a New Hampshire town with an AA group that supports him and a job in a nursing home that allows him to use his “shining”power to give comfort to those who are passing on. His “talent” has earned him the nickname “Doctor Sleep.”
Dan is contacted by a twelve-year old girl named Abra. She, too, has the shining but it is far more powerful than his own. She’s witnessed the brutal murder of a young boy who has the shining, his killers torturing him slowly to drain him of his power, his essence, his “steam.” They are referred to as The True Knot, a tribe of people who travel the highways in a caravan of RVs. Despite being quasi-immortal, the The True Knot have succumbed to the most horrific of human diseases. Getting enough steam to heal them is of utmost importance. Led by a terrifying woman with a top hat and one, long and horrifying tooth, The True Knot discover Abra and make it their mission to locate her and use her steam to heal their ill. Together, Dan and Abra begin an epic battle of good versus evil to finally put an end to The True Knot and their deadly reign of terror.
As many of you know, I have been waiting for the release of Doctor Sleep since I was a teen and first read The Shining. When I received and advanced copy of the audiobook of Doctor Sleep for review, I was insane with excitement. Also, however, I was terrified. What if my expectations, my hopes, for this novel were not met. What if the sequel I had built up in my mind for decades left me disappointed?
Well, reader, my expectations were exceeded. As a child, have you ever woken up on Christmas morning to find a gift that was far beyond anything you could have hoped or dreamed for? That feeling, that overwhelming excitement, is what I experienced in listening to Doctor Sleep.
I don’t dare to compare Doctor Sleep to The Shining. Stephen King was a completely different person when he wrote The Shining. A recovering alcoholic himself, he was battling his own incessant demons. Personally, I believe this is what gave The Shining the intensity and horror we have grown to love. In writing Doctor Sleep, he has presented himself as a completely changed writer who, over the decades, has undergone a metamorphosis of unparalleled magnitude. In Doctor Sleep, readers are reunited with characters from Dan’s past and, despite all his attempts to separate himself from what transpired at the Overlook Hotel, Dan is forced to face those demons he once attempted to bury. Dare I say that Doctor Sleep is a more mature version of King? That’s not to say he hasn’t always been a tremendously talented writer, but this most recent novel exemplifies just how much he has evolved over the years.
I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty of the novel. I don’t want to give away anything other than the basic premise. For, like all of King’s books, reading them is an experience that is wholly individual, a trek that one must take alone without any preconceived notions or expectations. Just know that it will be an experience that will haunt you, in the best of ways, long after you finish. For me, personally, it was an experience that ranged from terror to delight. At one point (and you will know what this point is!) I nearly had a car accident while listening, a “revelation” nearly forcing me to rear-end the car in front of me. I went in with anticipation but, as the audiobook ended and Stephen King himself read the author’s note, I was left with a smile.
I listened to the audiobook production of this novel. This is only the second King novel I have experienced this way. Leading up to the release of Doctor Sleep I listened to the recording of The Shining. Let me tell you, there is something about listening to King’s words read aloud that will send a chill down your spine, terrifying you (in the best of ways, of course.) Doctor Sleep was narrated by Will Patton and, honestly, I can’t think of anyone (ok, maybe King himself) that could have done a better job. Patton’s voice exuded the terror and horror of this novel, but also picked up on the innocence of Abra herself. He did a truly outstanding job, a production that will certainly top my favorites of all time.
I could continue to go on and on about how brilliant this novel is. To spare you, however, I will leave you with these final words: this is the novel I have been waiting for my entire life. It is a gift of immeasurable value and importance to me. It has forever sealed, in my mind, the proof that Stephen King is one of our country’s greatest authors of all time. Highly, highly (to infinity!) recommended!
Before I close, a bit of warning: If you haven’t read The Shining, your only experience with the Torrance family was by watching Stanley Kubrick’s film of the same title, I implore you, beg you, to read the novel first before diving in to Doctor Sleep. While Kubrick’s production was terrifying, it only captured a small essence of what Stephen King himself presented in the novel. To truly experience the genius that is The Shining, you must experience it through King’s writing itself. Any other experience pales in comparison.