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Bookends: This sequel doesn’t need the original book to work February 11, 2016

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: This sequel doesn’t need the original book to work

By Dan Davidson

December 2, 2015

– 914 words –

Doctor Sleep: A NovelDr. Sleep

By Stephen King

Pocket Books

626 pages

$11.56

Kindle edition

$24.99

While this has been marketed as the sequel to The Shining, which most people probably know from the Kubrick movie rather than the original book, you really don’t need to have read that book to enjoy this one.

The Shining was written by a Stephen King who was just developing his own drug and alcohol dependency, and really didn’t understand it very well. Doctor Sleep, written over 30 years later, is the product of a man who hit his own rock bottom, was forced to face his demons and who, with the help of family and friends, overcame them.

What ties it to the earlier book is the question of what happened to young Danny Torrance, whose psychic “shine” gave that book its title, after he grew up. Let’s suppose that Danny found his gift a burden in spite of Dick Halloran’s tutelage and, that while he always swore he would never succumb to his father’s weakness, he eventually discovered that alcohol dimmed the talent that gave him nightmares, and became a drunk. It took awhile, but he did hit rock bottom.

We follow Dan for a number of years until he settles in a small town and becomes a devotee of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s not a simple transition, and it is fueled by shame and a need to sort himself out. After a stint as a worker at a local theme park he becomes an orderly in an elder’s hospice for palliative care patients who are on their way out of this world. It turns out that his talent allows him to be of great assistance to the dying, helps them ease their passage to the other side in relative peace. He becomes known as Doctor Sleep.

Years pass. There are ways in which this story might have been a book by itself, but don’t worry, this is Stephen King.

It turns out that there is a “family” of what I suppose you would have to call psychic vampires. They call themselves the True Knot, and they feed on psychic emanations of human pain and suffering. They feasted in New York on 9/11 and in New Orleans when Katrina struck. They are functionally immortal as long as they feed regularly, and their favorite meal is the shining (they call it “steam”) of people who are talented like Dan Torrance.

Some of the talented can be turned to become members of the True Knot. Others die in he process and feed the clan, who travel the United States in RV caravans and look pretty much like ordinary folks. They look human, but part of the change and living the way they do means that they no longer are. They do age physically, but are rejuvenated by feeding. Some of them were around when cave people were drawing on their walls.

The thing about the shining is that, unless you make some kind of peace with it and use it regularly the way Dan Torrance does, it fades with age. So the favorite meals of the members of the True Knot come packaged in very young bodies. The young body we get to know best belongs to a girl named Abra Stone, who has a prodigious amount of the shining, enough that she senses the events of 9/11 when she is a baby. She has a wide range of talents, one of which allows her to mentally seek out and contact Dan when she is still a young girl of about two. At the time neither of them know what she is reacting to. Later, she senses the death of a talented youngster she calls the “baseball boy”, when he is taken by the Knot and devoured. In his death throes he reaches out for help and she receives his cry. She passes it on to Dan, writing a message on the blackboard he keeps in his rooms at the hospice.

The Knot’s leader, known as Rose the Hat, detects Abra at a time when her clan is in danger. The baseball boy had measles, and the clan members picked it up when they fed on his essence. Measles is quite deadly for adults and Rose’s hope is that acquiring Abra’s steam will cure them. When her early attempts to approach the girl telepathically result in a complete rout, Rose becomes obsessed with taking the girl’s life and power.

By this time Abra and Dan are in regular communication, have actually met, and have begun to plan ways to defend her from a probable assault by the Knot. Rose’s attempts have actually enabled Abra to find out a lot about them, how they work, what some of them look like. In addition, she is able to follow the movements of some of those who participated directly in the death of the boy

The second half of the book is about how the good guy
s totally ruin the bad guys. There’s a triumphal feeling about this story. You know very well that getting to the final solution is not going to be without struggle and turmoil but you read on feeling completely confident that Dan and Abra, and the others they recruit into the battle, will, in fact, succeed.

But it’s quite a ride, and there are lots of surprises.

-30-

 

 

 

 

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