Reviews > Published on October 8th, 2013

BookShots: "Doctor Sleep" by Stephen King

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Doctor Sleep

Who Wrote It?:

I’m sure I’m not the only person who was worried about how King was going to pull off a sequel to The Shining, but he’s done it...In the end, I think this is [his] most exciting book in years.

Stephen King, one of the most prolific authors ever, and the reigning king of horror.

Plot in a Box:

Danny Torrance, the little boy from The Shining (REDRUM! REDRUM!), grows up. A little girl, Abra Stone (ABRA CADABRA!), has the shining as well, and is being hunted by a pack of psychic vampires called the True Knot, who want to take her life essence, called “steam,” so they can persevere.

Invent a New Title For This Book:

Energivores or Rose the Hat.

Read This If You Liked:

Interview With a Vampire by Anne Rice, The Shining and/or Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, and Swan Song by Robert McCammon.

Meet the Book’s Leads:

Danny is an adult now, having struggled with alcoholism, and works in a hospice where his ability to help people in their final moments has earned him the label “Doctor Sleep.” Abra is a sweet girl with extraordinary abilities. Rose the Hat is their enemy, a powerful creature with dark intentions, and a small army of followers at her disposal.

Said Leads Would Be Portrayed In a Movie By:

Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) as Danny Torrance; Chloe Grace Moretz (30 Rock and the new Carrie) as Abra Stone; Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club) as Rose the Hat.

Setting: Would You Want to Live There?

The New Hampshire setting is peaceful and scenic, but because of the True Knot? Not so much.

What was your favorite sentence?

As he watched the Rockies grow closer, Dan thought of all the wandering years he had avoided them. That in turn made him think of some poem or another, one about how you could spend years running, but in the end you always wound up facing yourself in a hotel with a naked bulb hanging overhead and a revolver on the table.

The Verdict:

I’m sure I’m not the only person who was worried about how King was going to pull off a sequel to The Shining, but he’s done it. He may not have written a BETTER book, but he has certainly showed us what happened to Danny Torrance in a fun, entertaining, and creepy way. And you don’t need to read The Shining to enjoy Doctor Sleep—although it certainly helps.

That was the first draw for me—getting to see what happened to Danny and his mother Wendy, and even Dick Halloran, the Overlook Hotel’s head chef and fellow telepath. Although Wendy and Dick play minor roles, King does a good job of showing us what happened to them all, and how they dealt with the insanity that was The Shining. There is even a touching moment at the end with Danny’s father, Jack, which got me all misty-eyed—a few moments, actually.

The other big draw for me was the True Knot. There are other elements of the supernatural at play in this novel, ghosts and spirits from the past, but these eternal creatures who feed off of the “steam” of children who have this ability, this shining, are dark, violent and creepy. I won’t be up at night in fear, staring into the shadows, waiting for them to appear, like some of his past villains—the terrifying Pennywise, for example, or maybe the various forms of the “Man in Black,” Randall Flagg, but they were fun to root against.

In the end, I think this is Stephen King’s most exciting book in years. Don’t expect it to trump some of his best work, like The Shining or It or The Stand, but it’s a hypnotic read, a book I had a hard time putting down. And I think that says a lot.

Get Doctor Sleep at Bookshop or Amazon

About the author

Richard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books: three novels—Disintegration and Breaker (Penguin Random House Alibi), as well as Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications); three short story collections—Staring into the Abyss (Kraken Press), Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press), and Tribulations (Cemetery Dance); and one novella in The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). With over 140 stories published, his credits include The Best Horror of the Year (Volume Eleven), Cemetery Dance (twice), Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders (Bram Stoker winner), PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad (numbers 2-4), and Shivers VI (with Stephen King and Peter Straub). He has won contests at ChiZine and One Buck Horror, has received five Pushcart Prize nominations, and has been long-listed for Best Horror of the Year six times. He was also the editor of four anthologies: The New Black and Exigencies (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. He has been nominated for the Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and Thriller awards. In his spare time he is a columnist at Lit Reactor and Editor-in-Chief at Gamut Magazine. His agent is Paula Munier at Talcott Notch. For more information visit

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