Stephen King had a stretch where his novels were not very good, but lately he has been back on his game, and that is clearly in evidence in Doctor Sleep. The story is a sequel to The Shining, but the events in this novel don't follow what happened in the original. Danny Torrance, who was a young boy in the first novel, has grown up with the shining, and has a rough life because of it. Much like his father, he turned to alcohol to solve his problems. His lowpoint in his life is when on a morning following a drunken, drug addled binge with a woman, he steals money from her and her son and puts away a baggie of cocaine so the son can't reach it. Although this was such a big deal for Danny Torrance, in light of what other alcoholics do, it doesn't have quite the same impact and seemed overdone.
Danny's path leads him to New Hampshire, where he finds sobriety and works at a hospice where he helps deliver death to people in the final stages. He comes into contact with Abra, a girl with the shining that's much stronger than his version. When he learns of a group called the True Not who torture and kill kids with the shining, he takes on the role of her protector. Together they battle against the True Not, a group of immortals led by Rose the Hat.
The novel starts off slowly. That was my only real complaint about it. It takes a while for the novel to really get going, but eventually it kicks into high gear. I enjoyed Danny's progression as a character. Abra, as well as many side characters, are well composed and add a lot to the novel. Even the True Not, who are ostensibly evil in what they do, are presented with a very human face. They care about each other and from their point of view, kids with the shining are food to them. The conclusion of the novel was well thought out and explosive. This may not have been as good as The Shining, but it's well worth reading.
Carl Alves - author of Blood Street