Danny Torrance is back, devastated by the events of the Overlook Hotel and by his supernatural-gift, the one that his friend Dick Halloran revealed to be the Shining. Now Dan is an adult, and his life is messy and fragile. The evil, the real one, the infernal one, did not remain in his childhood and he just wants to turn the Shining off.
“The Shining” is perhaps one of the most recognized titles from the people, that you are referring to the novel or to the movie and beyond personal taste, everyone has heard of “The Shining”. Anyone who has seen the movie and read the book knows that, the fear instilled by the images of Stanley Kubrick is not the same fear told by Stephen King in his novel; something awful was perched between the lines of book’s pages, it was over there to observe the tragedy of Danny as well as our eyes were on the same lines to read it. In “The Shining” are not the Torrance family or the Overlook Hotel the protagonists but, something invisible yet concrete that surrounds them and live in them, and evil ghosts with their hypnotic eloquence.
It’s important to remember this special feature because in “Doctor Sleep”, Torrance family is gone and the historic Overlook Hotel is a vacant lot on a mountain, only remembered by a commemorative plaque. At this point you need to ask yourself one question, is the evil presence, that chatted with Jack Torrance, still the protagonist? No, it is not. So, who is going to read “Doctor Sleep” expecting a second Overlook Hotel and new rooms occupied by old specters, will be very, very disappointed.
Things have changed, not only for Dan but also for us who now look at his life, indeed, at his survival. The ghosts who have invaded the Overlook still linger in the air but, they are not the main characters and Dan’s Shining grew up with him, strengthened into something more complete, there is a reason why the novel is called “Doctor Sleep” instead of“The Shining, the Return”.
We know that the Shining is not an exclusive to Danny, his friend Halloran also had it and many other people have got it, some more than others. So, we’ve got Dan, we’ve got Shining but, again, they are only the means to show us another thing: in fact, absolute protagonists are the evil energy and its realization through perversion.
That something that was perched between the lines of “The Shining” and was observing the moves of the Overlook’s evil, now took flight and its shadow covers all of the new novel, it extends from the first page to last, like a giant cloud so terrifying that, when you look at it, you do not expect thunder and lightning but something much more catastrophic so as push you looking for a safe place. In “Doctor Sleep” there are no safe places and the cloud, as you know right from the start, is powerful and compact so much as not to allow the fall of only one flake of light between the pages. There is just shadow. That’s why the protagonist is no longer the fear but the… ineluctability.
Ineluctability. King manages to let feel this, he shows you the dark atmosphere of the inevitable as he never did and, while reading “The Shining” we was expected a final, with the reading of “Doctor Sleep” we expect what the black cloud is promising us, an unrivaled storm, something for which there is no escape, something terrifying that must be accomplished.
This inevitability is backed by the power and by the perversion of an evil that survives to himself just to create other evil and to provoke pain, it is the cornerstone of a plot that is built on the foundations of “The Shining” but, then, it finds a personal construction, a new shape that does not look like the Overlook Hotel, but that looks like a much more complex building.
And, in the shadow of the ineluctable, is there a glimmer of hope? You will find answers that could possibly be hopes. Many replies, dazzling as the explosion that destroyed the Overlook, refulgent like the Shining of Doctor Sleep. Answers that you will enjoy them, I’m sure.
All pictures in this review are from Italian edition’s cover of the book “Doctor Sleep” – Sperling & Kupfer Publisher