By Gaby Galindo
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
Whatever happened to little Danny Torrance?
Stephen King finally answers this and other burning questions that deeply devoted fans and casual horror-seekers alike have haunted the famed author with since the release of his acclaimed novel, “The Shining,” in 1977.
With the long-anticipated release of “Doctor Sleep,” King’s first-ever sequel to the iconic “The Shining,” questions about what happened after the horrific events that took place at Overlook Hotel will finally be put to rest, but not the many terrifying manifestations of the hotel that still remain.
King begins “Doctor Sleep” where “The Shining” ended, briefly recounting the conditions of the remaining Torrance family — Wendy and her son, Danny, and Dick Hallorann, the hotel chef who shares Danny’s “shining” talent. King ends the opening with a gut-wrencher: “Both surviving adults were quite badly injured in the explosion. Only the child was unhurt. Physically, at least.”
After this short recap, the story of Daniel Anthony Torrance’s life after the Overlook finally begins to unfold and King wastes absolutely no time to tell it. By the second page, the reader is inescapably immersed when one of Overlook’s most ghastly entities revisits Danny late at night, the woman from Room 217.
While Danny continues to fight for control over the other ghosts of Overlook, the reader is introduced to a particularly dark and violent group of quasi-immortal, vampire-like beings known as the True Knot, disguised as seemingly benign RV people.
Led by Rose the Hat, a dangerously seductive and cunning woman, the True Knot have thrived for centuries by feeding off of the “steam,” or power, of children who have the shining. The members of the True Knot “purify” this supernatural emanation in a truly sadistic ritual of literally torturing their victims to a slow, painful death.
King then reveals an image of a middle-aged, homeless and alcoholic Dan Torrance. After an uncomfortable glimpse of rock bottom, Dan wanders into a small New Hampshire town in search of answers and a second chance, both of which he finds in a local AA group and a hospice center. Dan, referred to as “doc” as a child, earns the nickname “Doctor Sleep” when he, assisted by a clairvoyant cat named Azzie, begins to use his unusual gift to bring much-needed comfort and relief to dying patients at the center.
Later, through a series of strange correspondence, Dan meets the peppy and preternatural Abra Rafaella Stone, a young, energetic girl with the “brightest” shine Dan has ever experienced. For Dan, Abra’s great telekinetic-telepathic abilities are both incredible, yet unsettling. For Rose the Hat, it’s enough irresistible, mouthwatering steam to sustain the True Knot for life.
After troubling visions from the past are unexpectedly reawakened and the steam-starved True Knot start to hunger for a gleam of Abra’s immense power, Dan must teach Abra the ways of the shining, as Hallorann taught Danny. All the while, Abra helps Dan face the horrible remnants of his youth. With the help of Dr. John Dalton, Billy Freeman, David and Lucy Stone, and an old friend from beyond the grave, Dan and Abra begin the fight of their lives in an epic battle against evil.
While “The Shining” depicts Jack Torrance’s growing mental instability and his steady descent into seething insanity, in “Doctor Sleep” King delves into more realistic psychological and social themes that hit very close to home. The novel is written in a way that encourages readers to relate themselves to various aspects within the story. “Doctor Sleep” is significant and applicable to anyone who has ever had fears about the uncertainty of death, felt the burden of battling personal demons and vices, or strived not to be haunted or defined by the past.
“Doctor Sleep” is filled from cover to cover with unwavering action and suspense in rich heart-pounding and cringing detail. Readers be warned: sleep deprivation may occur out of fear or just pure addiction. The novel exquisitely complements its famed predecessor on many levels and exceeds expectations. With King’s continued success and popularity, many playfully entertain the idea that other supernatural elements are at work. In any case, rest assured that “Doctor Sleep” provides further confirmation that Stephen King will continue to thrill and chill the hearts and minds of audiences for generations to come.
E-mail Galindo at firstname.lastname@example.org