Doctor Sleep (novel)

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Doctor Sleep
Doctor Sleep.jpg
First edition cover
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre Horror
Publisher Scribner
Publication date
September 24, 2013
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 531
ISBN 978-1-4767-2765-3
Preceded by The Shining

Doctor Sleep is a novel by Stephen King, a sequel to King's novel The Shining (1977), released in September 2013.[1] King first mentioned the idea in November 2009. The author's official website confirmed the project on September 26, 2011.[2] The audiobook edition of Stephen King's 2012 novel The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole, released on April 24, 2012, contains the novel's prologue read by the author.[3] The e-book publication of In the Tall Grass, a novella written by King and his son Joe Hill, contains the text of this excerpt.[4] Describing the novel on his official site, King stated that it is "a return to balls-to-the-wall, keep-the-lights-on horror".[2] Doctor Sleep reached the first position on The New York Times Best Seller lists for print and ebook fiction (combined), hardcover fiction, and ebook fiction. Doctor Sleep won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel. [5]

Background information[edit]

On November 19, 2009, while on a promotional tour in Toronto, Canada for his latest novel Under the Dome, during a reading at the Canon Theatre being moderated by the filmmaker David Cronenberg, Stephen King described to the audience an idea for a sequel novel to his 1977 novel The Shining. The story, King said, would follow a character from the original novel, Danny Torrance, now in his 40s, living in New Hampshire where he works as an orderly at a hospice and helps terminally ill patients pass away with the aid of some extraordinary powers.[6] Later, on December 1, 2009, Stephen King posted a poll on his official website, asking visitors to vote for which book he should write next, Doctor Sleep or the next Dark Tower novel:

I mentioned two potential projects while I was on the road, one a new Mid-World book (not directly about Roland Deschain, but yes, he and his friend Cuthbert are in it, hunting a skin-man, which are what werewolves are called in that lost kingdom) and a sequel to The Shining called Doctor Sleep. Are you interested in reading either of these? If so, which one turns your dials more? [We] will be counting your votes (and of course it all means nothing if the muse doesn't speak).[7]

Voting ended on December 31, 2009, and it was revealed that Doctor Sleep received 5,861 votes, while The Wind Through the Keyhole received 5,812.[8]

On September 23, 2011, Stephen King received the Mason Award at the Fall for the Book event at the George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, during which he read an excerpt from Doctor Sleep.[9] The author's official site confirmed three days later that King was currently working on the novel. King finished work on the first draft in early November 2011.[10] On February 19, 2012, King read the beginning section of Doctor Sleep at the Savannah Book Festival, in Savannah, Georgia.[11]

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, King revealed that he had hired researcher Rocky Wood to work on the continuity between The Shining and Doctor Sleep.[12]

The story was partly inspired by Oscar, a therapy cat who allegedly is able to predict the deaths of terminally ill patients; says King, "I thought to myself: ‘I want to write a story about that.’ And then I made the connection with Danny Torrance as an adult, working in a hospice. I thought: ‘That’s it. I’m gonna write this book.' The cat had to be there. It always takes two things for me to get going. It’s like the cat was the transmission and Danny was the motor."[13]

Publication information[edit]

On May 8, 2012, Stephen King's official website announced a tentative publication date of January 15, 2013 for Doctor Sleep. The book was available for pre-order that same day, with the page count of 544 and an ISBN of 978-1-4516-9884-8. However, the exact date was removed the next day with the statement that a new release date is forthcoming, and the pre-order items were removed. Stephen King was not happy with the present draft of the novel and felt it needed a lot of editing. On September 18, 2012, a publication date of September 24, 2013 was announced.[14][15][16] Cemetery Dance will also publish Doctor Sleep as a limited edition in three states: Gift edition (limited to 1,750 copies), Limited edition (limited to 700 copies), and Lettered edition (limited to 52 copies), the latter two signed by Stephen King and the illustrators.[17] On March 1, 2013, Stephen King's official site unveiled the book's cover.[18]

A collector's edition was announced in August 2013 by Hodder & Staughton for publication in the United Kingdom, limited to 200 numbered copies, signed by Stephen King.[19]

An excerpt was published in the September 13, 2013 issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine.[20]

Plot[edit]

Following the events of The Shining, Danny Torrance remains psychologically traumatized as his mother Wendy slowly recovers from her injuries. Angry ghosts from the Overlook Hotel eventually find Danny, including the woman from Room 217. Dick Hallorann, the Overlook's chef, teaches Danny to create lockboxes in his mind to contain the ghosts, including that of former Overlook owner Horace Derwent.

As an adult, Danny (now going simply by Dan) takes up his father's legacy of anger and alcoholism. Dan spends years drifting across the country, but eventually makes his way to New Hampshire and decides to give up drinking. He settles in the small town of Frazier, working first at a tourist attraction and then at a hospice, and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. His psychic "shining" abilities, long suppressed by his drinking, re-emerge and allow him to provide comfort to dying patients. Aided by a cat who can sense when someone is about to die, Dan acquires the nickname "Doctor Sleep."

In the meantime, Abra Stone, a baby girl born shortly before 9/11, begins to manifest psychic powers of her own. She slowly and unintentionally establishes a telepathic bond with Dan; as she grows, the contact becomes more conscious and voluntary and her shining grows stronger than his. One night, Abra psychically witnesses the ritual torture and murder of a boy by the True Knot, a group of quasi-immortals who wander across America and periodically feed on "steam," a psychic essence produced by people dying in pain. The True Knot's leader, Rose the Hat, becomes aware of Abra's existence and formulates a plan to kidnap Abra and keep her alive so she can produce a limitless supply of steam.

The True Knot begin to die off from measles contracted from their last victim, and believe that Abra's steam can cure them. Abra asks for Dan's help, and he reveals his connection with Abra to her father David and their family doctor, John Dalton. Angry and skeptical at first, David starts to believe Dan and agrees to go along with his plan to save Abra. With the help of Billy Freeman, one of Dan's friends, they foil and kill a raiding party sent by Rose; however, Dan realizes that Rose will relentlessly hunt Abra for revenge. He visits Abra's great-grandmother Concetta, who is dying of cancer, and telepathically learns from her that he and Abra's mother Lucy are half-siblings with the same father. As Concetta dies, Dan takes her diseased steam into himself.

Following another kidnapping attempt that Abra foils with Dan's telepathic help, she baits Rose into confronting her at the location where the Overlook once stood in Colorado. Dan and Billy travel to the site, while Abra helps them by using her astral projection. Dan releases the steam collected from Concetta to the remaining group of True Knot members lying in wait, killing all of them. He frees the ghost of Horace Derwent to kill the last member waiting to ambush him and Abra, and the two fight Rose in a long psychic struggle. With help from Billy and the ghost of Dan's father, they push Rose off an observation platform to her death.

In the epilogue, Dan celebrates fifteen years of sobriety and attends Abra's fifteenth birthday party. He tells her about the patterns of alcoholism and violent behavior that run in his family, and warns her not to repeat them by starting to drink or submitting to rage. Abra agrees that she will behave, but before they can finish the conversation, Dan is called back to his hospice, where he comforts a dying colleague who had antagonized him in the past.

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