On the second day of December in a year when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado’s great resort hotels burned to the ground. The Overlook was declared a total loss. After an investigation, the fire marshal of Jicarilla County ruled the cause had been a defective boiler. The hotel was closed for the winter when the accident occurred, and only four people were present. Three survived. The hotel’s off-season caretaker, John Torrance, was killed during an unsuccessful (and heroic) effort to dump the boiler’s steam pressure, which had mounted to disastrously high levels due to an inoperative relief valve. Two of the survivors were the caretaker’s wife and young son. The third was the Overlook’s chef, Richard Hallorann, who had left his seasonal job in Florida and come to check on the Torrances because of what he called “a powerful hunch” that the family was in trouble. Both surviving adults were quite badly injured in the explosion. Only the child was unhurt.
Physically, at least.
Maybe every prolific writers, some of them are just a bit too productive for their own good–they write too much books, have to come to their sequeldom era. In sequels, the very productive writer doesn’t need to build an entirely new story and fill them with another recycled plot and recycled characters. All she or he has to do is put their old characters on an entirely new, or at least new-ish, story arc.
In Doctor Sleep we meet a grown-up Danny. But Dan, the grown-up Danny, alas, is also becomes a recycled character. He is now a drunk, just like his father Jack Torrance was. And then there is Abra, the new psychic kid, the new Charlie McGee/Carrie White amalgam. The only draw down about Abra is: her personality, and her psy power, are way stronger than Charlie McGee and Carrie White combined. Too powerful to a point where she sometimes make the plot and her character less interesting.
The antagonists are ‘True Knot’, a watered-down version of The Stand‘s Las Vegas group with RVs, roaming the world for centuries, technically a band of psychic vampires, hunting people with ‘shining’ power. But if they were really that ancient, where were they back in the 70’s? Why would it take them more than thirty years to bump heads with Dan Torrance?
And when the True Knot finally try to hunt Abra, we naturally would expect some kind of an all out ESP war. But instead, Dan’s plan, with the aid of Abra’s own dad who’s most probably never fired a single bullet in his entire confusing but quite peaceful life–let alone killing people, is to simply hunt them back and settle the score…in a gunfight.
The Shining was less than 500 pages, so King really didn’t need to push this past 500. Doctor Sleep would be much better if it were slim and simple, around 300 pages top maybe, like Carrie or The Running Man.