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Review of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Updated on May 21, 2016
Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna is a writer, mom, crafter, and movie buff. Her favorites are horror movies and horror stories, thanks to some inspiring parents.


I am starting this review off with a disclaimer. For anyone who has not read The Shining, and do plan on reading it, be warned that this Hub does contain some spoiler information. Doctor Sleep is the sequel to The Shining, so events that took place in the first book, do appear in the sequel. If you have not read The Shining, my suggestion is to read that before reading either this review or Doctor Sleep. I will say that you should read The Shining and Doctor Sleep. They are both excellent!

My Rating of Doctor Sleep

4 stars for Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

A Fan's Opinion

I am a huge Stephen King fan. I will say that outright. I have been since I was rather young. I read my first Stephen King book when I was twelve, and haven't looked back since. In fact, The Shining was the second Stephen King book I ever read. I was about twelve or thirteen at the time. You may be thinking that as a fan, I could never provide an objective review. Well, for one thing, reviews are never objective. They are always subjective. Each person's view of life, personal experiences, likes and dislikes influence their opinions. Having said that, I have read a few Stephen King books that I didn't care for, or flat out hated. So, I am as objective as I can be.

Picking Up Where We Left Off

Doctor Sleep picks up pretty much where The Shining left off. It covers a small part of the childhood Danny had to deal with after the terrors of The Overlook Hotel. If any of the other 'Constant Readers' out there are anything like me, we often wondered what happened to Danny, his mom, Wendy, and good old Dick Halloran after they somehow managed to survive and escape. The physical injuries healed, but the emotional ones rarely heal as quickly.

Have you ever been so scared of "monsters" in your bathroom that you peed in the sink? What if those monsters were real? Little Danny Torrance knows all too well that monsters are very real. For those that have read The Shining, this section of the book is a way of catching up with the young Danny Torrance, as a reminder and a hint of things to come. For those that never read the first book, some information may not make sense, but I think the book would still stand on it's own, though not nearly as well.

Stephen King Talks About Doctor Sleep

The Demons of Our Past Follow Us

No matter where we go, or how old we get, the demons of our past follow us into adulthood. Danny is no different, or is he? His demons were more real than most. Though he did have the normal demons that most of us deal with; an alcoholic father, troubled family life, that sort of thing.

The book follows Danny, now Dan, into his adult life where it seems that history repeats itself. Dan follows in his father's footsteps by becoming an alcoholic himself. Dan is nothing close to a hero in the early parts of the book. He is anything but. Can you really blame him, though? His "gift" is troubling to deal with, and he finds that drinking dulls this gift to a manageable level. On the run from his past, and his actions, he finds himself on a bus, headed who knows where. He has an urge to get off the bus in a small town, with an even smaller "teeny town" attraction. This is where the majority of the story takes place. This is where I leave off giving details.

Young Danny Torrance, from the movie version of The Shining
Young Danny Torrance, from the movie version of The Shining
Danny Lloyd, who played Danny Torrance, all grown up.
Danny Lloyd, who played Danny Torrance, all grown up.

Demons Are Real

This book is all about demons, those that are real, and those that are more of an emotional nature. It is highlighted by nuggets of wisdom from Alcoholics Anonymous. It's a story of struggling with our demons, no matter where they come from. Accepting who you are, and making the best of it. I feel that King is drawing from his own experiences with addiction, and the demons that he carries. A lot of his stories carry a semi-autobiographical hint to them.

The story is fantastic! I read the whole book in three days, because I was so caught up in it. It was as if I could see the story taking place in my head, like my own little movie. The characters were honest, and endearing, and I found myself really caring about them, and turning the pages quickly, so that I could find out what happened to them next. A great story needs to do that. You need to care about the characters, understand them, and want them to succeed. My heart went out to little Abra, as she struggled to understand who she was. I wanted to smack Dan in the head when he did something stupid, and cheered when he did something amazing.

The plot is true King fantasy and horror; the stuff childhood nightmares are made of. I'm not kidding, here. The evil lurking on the backroads of America is nothing compared to the evil Stephen King conjured up for this story, not even close. The Overlook was terrifying for young Danny Torrance, but if he had come across this level of evil when he was young, I don't think he could have survived.

Life Is a Wheel

This is an oft repeated theme in a lot of King's works, and it shows up again here. Life, or fate, or ka, is a wheel. Everything goes around and around. Dan follows his father's path by becoming an alcoholic; Danny is helped by another with the 'shining', and he, in turn, helps another; and the wheel continues to turn. So, the story ends up kind of where it began.

Have You Read The Shining or Doctor Sleep?

Have You Read The Shining Or Doctor Sleep?

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Final Thoughts

The Shining was an amazing, iconic book that spawned an amazing, iconic movie. (Though the end of the movie is not the same ending as in the book!!) It is a hard book to compete with. I think that might be why King took so long to check back in with Danny Torrance. I don't blame him. How do you top The Shining? Can you even come close? Should you even try?

Well, Doctor Sleep is not The Shining. I will say that much. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I read The Shining when I was rather young, and I'm a bit more jaded now. Maybe it has to do with the iconic status that The Shining has. I'm not saying it isn't as good. It really is as good, and if I had read Doctor Sleep when I was twelve or thirteen, like when I had read The Shining, I don't think I would have slept for a week or two. It's scary!! Really scary!! I can understand why King was hesitant to write a sequel to such an amazing book. If it was terrible, it would have tarnished The Shining in a lot of ways. Thankfully, it is not only not terrible, it's incredible!! I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a Stephen King fan!! I do suggest reading The Shining first, though. Doctor Sleep will make much more sense if you do. Trust me on this!!!

© 2013 Anna Marie Bowman


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