Doctor Sleep is a scary good sequel

April 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Books

By Barb Biggs, BCPL branch manager

I am not a person who enjoys scary movies, but give me a scary book, and I’m all over it.  I think the physical act of reading a book allows you to use your imagination and create your own scary images (which are way scarier than any movie).  As I read, I become attached to the images that I come up with.  So, just like everyone else, I get pretty bummed if a book I love is made into a film and it’s just not what I had pictured.  The same goes for sequels.  Typically, they are pretty terrible, but Doctor Sleep by Stephen King is an exception.

When I heard that King had written a sequel to one of his most beloved works, The Shining, I was terrified, but not for the reason you may think.  I thought, ‘what if it is just awful?’  But, as one of King’s “Constant Readers,” I had to give Doctor Sleep a shot.

Full disclosure:  I listened to the audio book Doctor Sleep.   At home, I have a two year old and a three year old.  Finding time to sit and read anything other than The Giant Jam Sandwich is nearly impossible.  Yet, I drive almost two hours a day, so audio books are always in my car.  This book was narrated by Will Patton, who is a prolific narrator and actor.   He is currently starring in Falling Skies on TNT.  I mention this because the narrator of an audio book can make it or break it.  Will Patton is a winner.

Doctor Sleep is the story of Danny Torrance after The Shining and the events at the Overlook Hotel. In the novel, Danny is a grown man who has not made the best choices.  He is an alcoholic (drinking helps keep the ghosties away), aimless drifter who finds himself in a small town.  After arriving in the small town, Danny cleans up his act and finds a job at a local nursing home, yet he is still haunted by both specters and his past.

Meanwhile, a group of travelers (are they alive? are they even human?) called the True Knot are crisscrossing America, looking for “steam.”  Steam keeps them going, keeps them alive, and they find it from people who have the shining.  The stronger the shining, the stronger the steam.  Once a True Knot finds steam, they bottle it and save it for when they start to weaken.

Along the way, Danny meets Abra.  Abra is a young girl who also shines, and her gift is even stronger than Danny’s.  Danny feels connected to Abra, and commits himself to protecting her from the True Knot and their leader, Rose the Hat.

I should mention that King has made it very clear that this is not a sequel to the film version of The Shining.  He was notoriously not fond of Stanley Kubrick’s version of Danny Torrance, The Overlook, and their story.  This is a sequel to the novel.  However, it also works as a stand-alone novel.  If it has been years since you read about Danny and The Overlook, don’t hesitate to pick this up.  You will fall right back into the storyline (I won’t spoil any surprises, but I will say that there are some Shining characters that make an appearance).

Doctor Sleep is King at his best.  It’s not terrifying, but it will give you goose bumps.  There are some laughs, too.  And there are moments that will make you rethink turning out the lights before you go to bed.

You can check out Doctor Sleep at Boyd County Public Library, or place a hold on it or any other item at



Debbie Cosper

About Debbie Cosper

Director of Boyd County Public Library since August 2003. I have the best job in the world and hope people love The Library as much as I do.

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