Doctor Sleep (Review)

Book cover for "Doctor Sleep" by Stephen King.Title: Doctor Sleep

Author: Stephen King

Narrator: Will Patton

Publication Year: 2013

Pages: 544 (audio length: 18 hours 35 minutes)

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Fantasy

Source: Audiobook version purchased from

From the cover:

On highways across America, a tribe of people called the True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless — mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, the True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the steam that children with the shining produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel, where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant shining power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to this icon in the King canon.

(This book is the sequel to The Shining.)

When this book was released and was nominated in the Audies this year, I decided to listen to it. I then went out to read The Shining first so that I would know what I was getting into (since the book is always a bit different from the movie, I didn’t want to rely on my knowledge of the movie to go on to read Doctor Sleep).

After reading them back to back, I find that I drastically preferred Doctor Sleep. The characters are more vibrant, more alive, and more interesting. Plus, it simply feels like there’s more explanation, more depth to “the shining” and to the concept of “steam”. It’s given in bits and pieces, fits and starts, and it takes a while for everything to come together … but when it does, it’s simply amazing.

I also really enjoyed the way that Danny’s character has developed into adulthood. In the beginning of the book, I actually rather disliked him. He had managed to become someone who was’t all that likeable. But as the story progresses, and he continues to develop, I ended up really liking him and his interactions with Abra. I liked that he was a part of the book, but not the sole focal point. It led to there being more to the story, more of a universal appeal.

As my first King books, The Shining and Doctor Sleep were definitely a positive introduction to his work. I would have usually avoided his books in the past, but now, I would think twice before moving on.


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