Ok. Take a deep breath, Stephen King fans. There’s a sequel to “The Shining”, and it’s coming in September of 2013.
I’ve been a fan of King’s since I was about nine, when I first stole “IT” from my mother’s bookshelf and read it cover to cover, not understanding much of what was in it and not caring. It was the way he put words together that I cared about, his language, the way he drew the young characters and gave them relationships with one another. I was hooked from then on.
When I discovered “The Shining”, it became an instant favorite. The idea of a haunted hotel whose ghostly guests were still stuck in the roaring ’20s appealed to me on a level I couldn’t even grasp. It was creepy, it was well-written, and most of all, it was a truly good ghost story. Those are rare, I think. And when I saw the film, I loved it too, despite the fact that Kubrick changed so much from the original story. It was like a separate version with the same characters, like having a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure built right in to one of the scariest stories ever told.
When I first heard about the sequel, I wasn’t sure what to think. I’m still not sure what to think. King hasn’t made many mistakes with his writing over the years…but he has made a few. Part of me is extremely wary about revisiting the character of Danny Torrence, especially a grown-up version, because I can’t imagine what purpose a new book about “the shine” will serve. However, King has routinely been at his best when he does revisit his characters; he builds entire worlds and then intermingles those people he made us connect with, coming back to the ones we know and love and miss every so often to surprise us. When I read “11/22/63”, I was immediately taken in by the story, but what really grabbed me was the sudden and unexpected appearance of two characters from “IT”, still preserved in their pre-teen form. I wanted to cry when I came upon that page, so grateful to see those kids again; it was like visiting a strange and unfamiliar town and randomly seeing a familiar and comforting face in the crowd. And the truth is, most of us want to know what happens to characters after the last page of the book; even if their story is neatly wrapped up (and it almost never is with Stephen King at the helm), the people we cared about and grew to love or hate or commiserate with are still on our minds. This is part of King’s genius, that ability to create characters his readers care deeply about.
Whatever the outcome, it will be interesting to see what happened to Danny as he got older, how he dealt with what happened to his father and how he will handle not becoming a version of Jack.
The book is called “Doctor Sleep“; here is the synopsis, so you can judge for yourself.
On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.
Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”
Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted readers of “The Shining” and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.