“Doctor Sleep”; a novel with a shine of its own

I’ve never been an alcoholic myself, but I’ve been around them long enough to spot one. In 2012 I went through the Navy’s Substance Abuse Counselor School and attended a bunch of meetings as assigned research. That gave me a refresher in the inner workings of AA and their meetings. So when I first dove into Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep”, I picked up on something right away; Mr. King didn’t just do research, he had a personal experience from which he was writing. I set the book down, right then and there, to do my own digging, which didn’t take long to turn up what I was searching for. I must be a horrible fan, because how could I have gone the last twenty-four years not knowing what one of my favorite authors had been through.
I started reading Stephen King novels when I was in middle school. The library in my hometown, small as it was, had a section of horror novels in the back among the books the adults read. My grandmother used to take me there all the time. She would leave with two grocery bags full of books and as I grew older, my own pile would grow each trip. King novels, once I discovered them, were one of my favorites. If you went back today and the old library cards were still in use, each King novel would bear my name several different times. He’s also one of the major reasons that I took to writing. He has a way of telling a story that is all his own. His books, to this day, give people the shivers, goose bumps and the feeling that someone is staring over their shoulder.
I’m not someone who gets scared by those stories, but they do move me in other ways. One of my favorite novels by King is “The Shining”. Here was a novel, which for the most part, had four characters: Jack, Wendy and Danny Torrence, and Dick Hallorann; that is, if you don’t count the ghosts. King’s books always seem to delve into a personal level of horror in a goldfish-sized bowl, but makes his reader walk away with a sense of awe, as if they’d witnessed something world shattering. The Shining was no different. I’ve always wondered what happened to that little boy after the Overlook Hotel went up in flames. Sure, he moved on… but did he grow up to be like his father.
It’s probably one of the ghosts that every little boy who has witnessed the harder side of life deals with; following in their father’s footsteps. I know I did. I grew up knowing one story about him, but when I became a man I learned that my view of him wasn’t wrong, just incomplete. Reading “Doctor Sleep” brings that back full circle. Funny, that’s one of the premises of King’s novel. How endings are really beginnings, how life has a funny way of coming around again and brings you back to where you started from.
In the novel a now adult Dan Torrence, still plagued by the past and actions of his father, finds himself in the small town of Frazier, New Hampshire. He meets a young girl with her own strength in the shining and must work to protect her from an evil that stretches out across the country from the remnants of the Overlook Hotel. Despite his own battle with alcoholism, anger and ghosts of his past, Dan finds himself filling the role that Dick Hallorann did so many years ago; teaching a young child with the shining how to defend herself.
Like many of Stephen King’s novels, he spins a well-stitched tapestry of horror, suspense, supernatural abilities and everyday regret into a novel that I was not able to put down. Perhaps it is because I am confined to a ship at sea, or perhaps it’s that “Doctor Sleep” is just that damn good, but if you, like me, have wondered over the decades what became of the little boy they called “doc” and had to deal with the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel, you will absolutely love “Doctor Sleep.” Enjoy!


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