In DOCTOR SLEEP there are mournful echoes of THE SHINING without the full embodied horror of the original instalment. Stephen King updates the original theme while simultaneously introducing a new menace - The True Knot, a group of people who live off the 'steam', a unique substance only children with the shining have. Dan Torrance, having lived through the horrors of the Overlook in his childhood now faces a new threat in adulthood. One that has far reaching ramifications for not only him, but many children gifted with the curse.
The Overlook is very much a part of Dan's life, from his terror stricken time at the hotel as a child through to his adulthood, the horrors of the hotel haunt and disturb him. Having established coping mechanisms, he's able to lock away the ghastly spirits that continued to plague him and move on with his life - one that's dangerously close to resembling his alcoholic and abusive (though loving) father.
The opening of DOCTOR SLEEP blew me away. Stephen King went to great lengths to establish the continuity while building upon THE SHINING. However, what looked to be a direct follow-up soon evolved into it's own story. That's not a bad thing. DOCTOR SLEEP is it's own kind of horror supported by a familiar protagonist and a devilish new cast. The True Knot aside, Dan's friendship with Abra Stone - a child with a gift stronger than Dan's adds another element to an already well rounded story.
The constant in DOCTOR SLEEP for me, is evolution: Dan's ability/powers expand to aide those on their death bed at the hospice he works towards the afterlife, the shining itself grows within Abra from an ability to move objects to being able to mentally transport herself from one person to the next, The True Knot - a long standing group of people who avoid death and the ageing process by sucking the life out of children with the shining become the new threat to Dan and those closest to him. There's a lot to distinguish DOCTOR SLEEP from THE SHINING yet the original still resonates throughout the latest installment.
I re-read THE SHINING prior to delving into DOCTOR SLEEP and I highly recommend this as familiarity with the characters is paramount to enjoying the cameos and linkages between the events at the Overlook and the membership of The True Knot. The only gripe I have with DOCTOR SLEEP is that it doesn't capture the same atmospheric horror of THE SHINING, that said, this is a different story and can be excused as such.
DOCTOR SLEEP reaffirms Stephen's Kings place as the master of horror.
- My review of THE SHINING can be found HERE.