Insomnia (novel)

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First edition cover
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre Horror, Fantasy novel
Publisher Viking
Publication date
September 15, 1994
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 787
ISBN 978-0-670-85503-2

Insomnia is a novel written by Stephen King and first published in 1994. Like It and Dreamcatcher, its setting is the fictional town of Derry, Maine. The original hardcover edition was issued with dust jackets in two complementary designs. The first is pictured on the right; the second has the white and red colors reversed.

Plot summary[edit]

Ralph Roberts, a retired widower, begins to suffer from insomnia. As his condition starts to get worse, Ralph begins to see things that are invisible and intangible to others: colorful manifestations of life-force surrounding people (auras), and diminutive white-coated beings he calls "little bald doctors", based on their appearance. Roberts perceives other planes of reality and their influence upon the "real" world. He finds that his sweetheart, Lois Chasse, is also a sufferer. They eventually discover that their insomnia has been induced by the two little bald doctors to help them defeat agents of the Crimson King.

Ralph and Lois name the two "good" doctors Clotho, which means destiny, and Lachesis; while the "bad" doctor is called Atropos, which means random murder; they are all named after the Moirai of Greek mythology. Ralph overcomes Atropos and forces him to promise to stay out of their business, the doctors all being bound by their word. However, Atropos has his revenge by showing Ralph a glimpse of the not-too-distant future in which he claims the life of the innocent Natalie Deepneau. Ralph is able to counterbalance this however, by striking a deal with Clotho and Lachesis whereby he trades his own life for Natalie's.

Meanwhile, Ed Deepneau, Natalie's father and Ralph's neighbor, falls under the control of the Crimson King. Deepneau attempts to crash a light plane containing explosives into the Derry Civic Center during a heavily-attended rally. Ralph and Lois realize that the Crimson King is using Deepneau to kill a small boy named Patrick Danville, the focus of a prophecy concerning the salvation of The Dark Tower. Patrick Danville cannot, for undisclosed reasons, be killed directly by anyone born under either the Random or the Purpose.

However, from time to time a being is born who is "undesignated". An undesignated person is described as being like a nearly blank card, also known as "Joker", and is up for grabs by either side. Deepneau is one such person, in fact the only person on earth at that time of undesignated status. Ralph defeats the King and forces the light plane to crash into the parking lot; killing Deepneau and sparing Danville's life, allowing him to fulfill his destiny and setting the path for the Dark Tower series. There are many Dark Tower references in Insomnia, including references to the Crimson King and Ka.

The story ends on a tragic note as Ralph, to uphold his bargain with Clotho and Lachesis, is hit and killed by a car to prevent Natalie Deepneau from being killed in his place. The story closes on the remark that Ralph is finally able to rest.

Insomnia is set in King's fictional town of "Derry", which is the backdrop location for other books such as "It" and "Dream Catcher" among others.


Insomnia was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel in 1994.[1]