Written by: Scotty
We all live and learn from our memories. Some of them have changed our lives for the better, others continue to haunt us. Needless to say, our memories change our lives and for the lack of a better way of saying it, they make us who we are today.
The same can be said for Danny Torrance. Remembering what he encountered in the Overlook Hotel many years ago, Danny is still prone to dreaming. But unlike most of us, Danny’s dreams come to harm him. Three years after the Overlook burned to the ground, supposedly taking all of its horrors with it, Danny is visited by Mrs. Massey, the woman who died in the tub in room 217. Calling for help, Danny can still find help from old friend Dick Hallorann. Dick gives his shining student a steel box, to hide all of the bad away, not in the box of course, but in his mind.
Twenty years later, Danny is now living his life addicted to the bottle, just like his father. Getting into barroom brawls and hooking up with which ever woman is longing or drunk enough to take him home. The alcohol keeps the shining at bay, at least for the time being. Danny’s eyes open up on his latest one night stand where he awakens to find the woman’s son walking over to the coffee table and trying to have a taste of the cocaine that was left over from the night before. Removing a few dollars from the woman’s purse and moving the drugs out of reach from unknowing hands, Danny has hit rock bottom and tries once again to start his life over again in a new location.
Stumbling into a little place called Teenytown, Dan (he is a grown up now) finds a miniature train set up that takes kids on the rides of their lives for a few minutes. Dan meets a maintenance worker named Billy who is willing to take a chance on the middle aged man, but first he will have to meet up with the boss, Casey Kingsley. Casey is a recovering alcoholic and can see that Dan will be a challenge but is willing to take the young man for a few months. Being able to spot his own kind, Casey waits patiently for Dan to approach him about his addiction to the bottle.
Across the country in the Midwest a group is starting to grow in numbers. The group True Knot is a clan that has been together for many, many years. Always looking for new recruits and a way to feed, the True Knot has been locating young adolescents with the gift of the shining and draining them of it. Steam, the byproduct of these gifted childrens' lives is what this group feeds upon took keep themselves young and alive. The lack of this Steam causes the members to cycle, phase in and out until their bodies give up and they perish. The group is running low on their life force and is looking for a way to replenish it and quickly. A young girl named Abra Rafaell Stone is their next target and they will stop at nothing to get to her.
Doctor Sleep is the follow up to Stephen King’s, The Shining, at least the follow up story of what has happened to Danny Torrance. Danny was just a young character in the first book and had little that he could personally do to defeat the evil forces that were trying to punish him. Now he is older, wiser and trying to help out people when he can and becomes a janitor at the Helen Rivington House/Hospice. He is not paid for his cleaning skills, but is utilized to help comfort the dying patients in the hospice, giving them all a piece of mind when the end comes. Young Abra Stone is a gifted youth who has tried for some time to hide her abilities given to her by the shining, however, she is not ever in complete control and makes strange things happen from time to time. True Knot is lead up by Rose (The Woman in the Hat). Rose is looking for one thing and one thing only, the survival of herself and her group and will do anything to protect them as supplies run lean.
Dan teaches young Abra how to control and embrace her powers by putting up barriers and traps to keep True Knot from finding her. Abra is much stronger than Dan in these respects, but she is still a kid and wants to do as much damage as possible to anyone that would want to harm her. Trying to keep her in line, Dan sets up an elaborate plan to pull the True Knot out of hiding at the Bluebell Campground, (the former location of the Overlook Hotel), and try to disperse of the threat that Rose is putting on the young girl. A battle is brewing and only one will come out on top, which one, well you will have to read to find out.
Stephen King delivers with Doctor Sleep. Could some things have been different, could the story line have gone a completely different way the make this an epic? Of course it could, but that is not the way he was going to go with making little Danny Torrance a grown man. Honestly, what would you do if you had ghosts attacking you in a creepy old hotel, in the middle of winter, with no way to get out? Danny tries to put his past behind him by quieting the gift that has been a burden in his youth, by the use of alcohol. Not saying that is the right way to deal with problems, but if doctors are not able to help you, a little self-medication might be right up your alley.
I liked Doctor Sleep, showing Danny grown into Dan and then watching as Dan grows as the novel persisted was great. Going from a loner, boozer, fighter, to a teacher is a great transition as he continues to help young Abra prepare for the worst. Great characters keep the main two in check with Abra’s parents being hesitant that a thirty plus year old is trying to help their daughter, along with the folks from Teenytown trying to keep Dan on his toes, while keeping him dry. ‘Stay away from the woman in the hat, she will eat you alive.’ I will keep that advice in mind for years to come.