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One of horror master Stephen King’s more recent bestsellers, Doctor Sleep features one of the protagonists from his classic The Shining, Daniel Torrance, all grown up and trying to live his life.  A few decades after the incident at the Overlook Hotel, Dan still has his psychic ability, which he tries to drown out through heavy drinking and the occasional bit of substance abuse, as he travels from city to city trying to get away from his past.  Eventually he settles in the small New England town of Frazier, New Hampshire, where he begins to turn his life around by working in a hospice and using his ability to soothe elderly patients in their last remaining moments of life.  Not too far from Dan, in the equally small town of Anniston, New Hampshire lives the Stone family, whose daughter Abra started to show signs of what Dan refers to as “shining” only a few months after she was born.  Dan and Abra, who share a deep, personal connection via their shine, will have to team up to face off against the book’s antagonists, Rose the Hat, and her wandering band of essence stealing vampires known as the True Knot.

The novel starts off strong, with great characterization of Dan, Abra, the Stone family.  We really get a solid understanding of who they are and what they’re all about.  The same can’t be said about the True Knot and its members who seem to be pretty generic villain characters.  There could have been so much more there to these people, but they just seem to fall kind of flat.  Also, to make it even worse, there’s never any real feeling of danger or a significant threat to the main characters posed by the Knot.  There is precisely one scene in the middle of the book involving a boy in Iowa where the members of the True Knot are even remotely scary.  Aside from that, they almost remind me of a group of cartoon bad guys.

I had read somewhere that King considered this novel his “return to balls-to-the-wall, keep-the-lights-on horror,” if this is true, then I’m highly disappointed with the effort.  Save for the one scene mentioned above, I never felt scared or even remotely unsettled by any part of this book.  The story itself is good enough, but I wouldn’t really market it as horror.  It’s an adventure book, with bits of action in it, but it doesn’t ever really cross that line into scary territory.  Also, the ending kind of falls flat, and that goes back to the poor choice of antagonist.  When your characters are never really in danger from a weak enemy, then it becomes difficult to build any kind of real tension to work with.  By the time the ending actually came around, you more or less knew what was going to happen, and when it did, it still wasn’t as epic and climactic as you were expecting it to be.

Overall, Doctor Sleep is not terrible, but it certainly doesn’t live up to it’s classification as a horror novel, let alone a horror novel from one of the field’s all time masters.  For a really scary story involving Daniel Torrance, read The Shining instead.

The Verdict for Doctor Sleep:
3/5 – Meh…

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

Upcoming reviews:
Ghost Racers #3 (Secret Wars Tie-In)
Planet Hulk #4 (Secret Wars Tie-In)
Secret Wars: Battleworld #4

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