The scariest Stephen King book I have read is It, hands down.  But on its heels, at a close second, is King’s more recent novel, Dr. Sleep. King is at his best drawing a picture of Evil Incarnate in both novels. In the author’s note at the end, King tells his readers that at signings, he is often asked what became of the little boy, Danny Torrance, of The Shining, a terrifying novel in its own right. This book answers that question.

Dan has hit rock bottom, involved in drug use and an alcoholic in his twenties, as he stumbles off a Greyhound bus in a little town in New Hampshire. The people he meets in town encourage him, and there he is contacted supernaturally by Abra Stone, a twelve- year-old girl whose gift of the shining is far stronger than his own. The two of them, with assistance from more minor characters, confront The True Knot, “murderous paranormals,” vampirish creatures who live off the “steam” (the shining) of young children like Abra and “the baseball boy.” One catch is that The True Knot must torture and ultimately kill these special children to feed off them.

Because Dan has taken on the job of orderly in a nursing home/hospice to make ends meet, a job no one else wants to do, he finds a way to use his “gift” for good, helping elderly end-of-life patients to transition from a suffering life to an eased death. No, not euthanasia of any kind, but a gentle, loving, vigil in the residents’ last moments that assures them it is ok to “let go.” Thus, Dan earns the title, “Dr. Death.”

Like most of Stephen King’s novels, the theme is the epic war between good and evil, and there are many hold-your-breath moments as the reader is pulled along by the story. Happily, the ending is a satisfactory one, and leaves things open for even another book about Dan and Abra if the author wishes.


Author: Rae Longest

This year marks my fiftieth year in AAUW (American Association of University Women). The Alvin chapter was begun in 1947, and as a new, green teacher to Alvin Independent School District, I joined in 1968. In the 80's we began a book group to share our love of reading, books,and fellowship with other women and girls who loved the same. We resurrected the group on-line in September of 2015. Eventually Powerful Women Readers folded as an on-line book club, but I kept the title and turned it into a blog. (See "Introduction,"first blog). This is my first experience at blogging or publishing anything and is becomes more fun with each blog posted. I have just completed 30 years of teaching as an adjunct at The University of Houston Clear Lake. This is after three years at Alvin Community College and an almost-twenty year career as a classroom teacher with Alvin Independent School District, adding up to a total of teaching 50 years in all. Reading and writing are "in my blood" just like teaching is. I hope you enjoy the blog.

8 thoughts on “STEPHEN KING’S DR SLEEP: A Review”

    1. There is some “gentle” philosophy about death and the dying alongside the horror of death. There are also life lessons to be learned about redemption and second chances and good stewardship of the talents and gifts one is given, even if we at some time in our life look at those gifts as a curse. King is certainly a master of storytelling.

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  1. I applaud your courage, Rae:). I have read some of King’s work – but I steer clear of the creepier offerings and this one would certainly not be one that I could cope with! I’m glad you enjoyed and thank you for a great review.

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    1. I was never a fan of or even allowed to watch horror movies as a kid, and I am sure I could not handle this story were I to SEE it on a movie screen; however, in book form, I have an understanding of the comment heard that people enjoy being scared. This book WAS scary, but King threw in enough humor, compassion, and even “sweetness” to balance the “feel” of the book. I especially liked the relationship between Dan and Abra and his depiction of Abra’s maturity and responsibility far beyond her chronological years. He shows the beginnings of a strong, independent, empathetic and at times angry woman who wants to (and certainly will grow up to) change things. King captures Abra’s sense of injustice so prevalent in young people who still believe life SHOULD BE fair, where we adults have seemed to have given up on this hope and tell our children and grandchildren, “Who says life is fair”? We accept this “fact” rather than rail and rant against it and TRY to do something to make things change. My hope is with the younger generations!

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      1. I think King’s writing is remarkable and I just wish I could read horror without being afflicted with nightmares – but sadly, I can’t. I’m one of those people who doesn’t enjoy being scared… I’m a wuss!

        I absolutely take your point about writing highlighting the injustices and having characters rail against it, in order to stir up society. Dickens did this a lot with his books and, indeed, was instrumental in causing Victorians to question what was happening behind the respectable facade with popular stories – and I think King falls into the same category. You’re right – it’s the youngsters who will make those changes.

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