Scribner and Hodder & Stoughton have established September 24, 2013 as the official first publication date for Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining.
Stephen King has been giving his readers nightmares for decades. One of his most terrifying tales is The Shining, the story of a man slowly driven insane and turning against his family while the trio takes care of an isolated hotel during its wintry off-season.
That story, which was later turned into a film by Stanley Kubrick and starred Jack Nicholson as the possessed man who slowly descends into madness, was released all the way back in 1980.
It’s been a long time since the “happy ending” of that tale. Over the years, from time to time there would be rumors that King was thinking about revisiting the Torrance family, but the prolific writer always seemed to choose to explore other stories instead.
Now, King has finally decided to tell the second chapter of this story and his fans could not be more thrilled.
The book will be called “Dr Sleep” King once again brings us into the life of Danny Torrance, the young boy who survived the ordeal at the Overlook Hotel only to follow his father’s footsteps into depression and an alcoholic haze. Although he has tried to put his personal nightmare behind him for several decades, the one thing he can’t escape is his own power.
You see, Danny can “shine,” a psychic ability that is coveted by a tribe of almost-immortals known as the True Knot.
These entities feed on the shining ability, and while Danny has tried to suppress his power and keep its existence a secret, he has just met a young girl named Abra whose facility with the gift dwarfs his own.
He must now once again open himself up to his true calling in order to protect his new friend, and once and for all defeat the evil that claimed his father all those years ago.
In essence, this is King’s own response to the Twilight series and the growing popularity of the vampire story.
In “Dr. Sleep” we learn that the True Knot are the author’s take on the horror staple known as the vampire, only instead of drinking the blood of their victims, they feast on psychic energy.
Of course, that wouldn’t be terrifying enough to most of us, since so few of us actually believe ourselves to be psychic.
So King ups the stakes by explaining that his monsters can create this psychic ability by slowly torturing children to their death.
King has always been fascinated by the scars left by abusive childhood, perhaps as a result of his own father having walked out on the family when the author was only two years old. Many of his stories have focused on the damage that can be done to and by adolescents.
In “The Shining,” Danny Torrance survives the ordeal and is able to live the rest of his life, but while his physical scars can heal, the emotional scars never do.
Since King’s The Shining was released in 1977, the United States has gone through its own emotional scars, from the Iran hostage crisis, the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, the Space Shuttle explosion, Columbine, 9/11 and just recently, the shootings in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater.
If ever there was a time for King to release a book where themes of loss and coping with tragedy get explored, it is the present. “Dr. Sleep” was originally due to be released in January of 2013, but the date has been pushed back due to King’s desire to edit the manuscript a bit more before unleashing it on the public.
When it does finally hit bookstores, one can be sure that reading “Dr. Sleep” will lead to many a sleepless night going forward. Such is the magical power of King’s writing.