In celebration of the release of two books from the Master of Horror Stephen King, Mr. Mercedes and Doctor Sleep, we here at Love Horror have come up with a new feature named 100 pages of Horror proving you can’t judge a book by its cover but you can by its first hundred pages.
First up and now out in Paperback is King’s long awaited sequel to The Shinning, Doctor Sleep. The Shinning came out in 1977 and firmly established the author as a true master of terror. Made all the more famous by Stanley Kubrick’s sensational film adaptation it is worth noting that King himself was unhappy with the movie finally writing a TV miniseries in 1997 so that he could see his story on screen how he wanted it.
Doctor Sleep picks up the story straight after the end of The Shinning with the only survivors of Jack Torrance’s rampage his wife, son Danny and the Overlook Hotel’s chief Dick Hallorann escaping to safety yet still tormented by the terrible events.
Danny now 8, suffers worst of all due to his supernatural gift, dubbed shinning, causing him to still see the disgusting denizens of the wicked place as if they were real and when he is visited by the naked decaying specter of Mrs. Massey from room 217 he closes up completely refusing to talk.
Terribly worried Danny’s mother calls in Hallorann, who also shares Danny’s gift, to help and the kind old man tells him a story from his own damaged past and gives Danny a present, a lockbox, which he tells the boy to visualise in his mind and use to lock away any of the ghosts he sees.
Around the same time an abuse victim who can send anyone to sleep is picked up in a cinema by a strange group of individuals named the True Knot all of which posses their own talents. Lead by the evil and alluring Rose the Hat they travel the land in search of steam produced by children with the shinning which they consume to give them everlasting life.
Hitting rock bottom one night when he steals money from a single mother in front of her small boy who he sees is a victim of child abuse his life spirals out of control as he moves from city to city ending up in the small town of Frazier where he gets a job at the tourist attraction Teenytown.Flashing forward decades Danny is now an adult revisiting the sins of his father by drinking his life away in order to dull the pain of his past and the visions he sees when he is sober.
As his head clears his powers return stronger than ever and one night he has a vision from his childhood of REDRUM written in red on a bathroom alongside a blood filled top hat and the long dead single mother he stole from warning him to stay away from the woman in the hat calling her “the Queen Bitch of castle Hell”
Looking for release in the bottom of a bottle Danny finally accepts help from his new boss who encourages him to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and he finally feels his life is on track but the appearance of a powerful baby named Abra and the arrival of the True Knot is set to change all of that.
Doctor Sleep starts out delivering exactly what you wanted from a sequel expanding and explaining what happened after Jack’s terrible attack on his family. The terrifying visitation from Mrs. Massey is excellently written and Hallorann’s helpful trick for Danny to keep the monsters away is an interesting idea that opens up possibilities for his future.
Unfortunately the jump to the life and times of Danny as an adult is harder to get to grips with as the reader feels forced forward ahead of where they wanted to be left missing the characters we had come to connect with including Danny as a boy.
Danny as a man is much more unlikable due to his constant drink and drug abuse and it takes some time to feel for him again now he is fully grown, a risk King is willing to take probably because of his own personal struggles with alcoholism and eager desire to expand on it.
Luckily Danny’s willingness to turn his life around added to the constant hauntings from the Overlook’s many malicious ghosts keep the spirit of the child from The Shinning alive enough for us to care about the character and keep reading.
Add in the introduction of baby Abra and the time spent with the sinister yet unexplained True Knot and 100 pages in there is a lot to take in with a hell of a lot more to happen making Doctor Sleep a definite must read for anyone who enjoyed The Shinning in any form.
Coming soon 100 pages of Horror Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes