WINNING FORMULA: Stephen King’s latest offering, Dr Sleep, again follows the theme of good versus evil.
WINNING FORMULA: Stephen King’s latest offering, Dr Sleep, again follows the theme of good versus evil. Aapelise Amendola

The master delivers with sequal to The Shining

STEPHEN King's long-awaited sequel to his horror masterpiece, The Shining, is here, and what a wild fairground ride it is.

Is it as good as the original? No. But is it a novel flavoured by King's phenomenally dark imagination, battles between good and evil, and characters who will stay in your memory for a long time? Yes.

It's called Dr Sleep and it follows the adventures of Dan Torrance, now an adult, but previously the little boy who narrowly survived being murdered by his father at The Overlook.

Jack Nicholson played his dad in the Stanley Kubrick version of King's original book and many people would remember his scenes for their sheer terror. But King points out that Dr Sleep is a sequel to the book, not the movie.

We meet Dan when he is still trying to come to grips with his alcoholism - he uses booze to blot out the images presented to him by his "shining" or paranormal ability. Get clean he does, with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous and a couple of likeable sidekicks, as King did himself.

The book is liberally sprinkled with AA dogma and sayings, and Dan's battle with himself is never too far from the surface. But it is the epic fight he must wage against a tribe of murderous paranormals, The True Knot, who travel the highways of America torturing children with the shining to live off their "steam" - that moves the plot along.

Abra Stone is the True Knot's jackpot - a 12-year-old girl with masses of the shining who could possibly sustain them for years to come.

She makes telepathic contact with Dan who works in a hospice guiding its residents in "passing over", with the help of his cat, Azzi (hence the name Dr Sleep) - and he is drawn into a world of evil.

Dr Sleep is sometimes creepy, sometimes confronting, sometimes a bit silly, mostly involving and jammed with the kind of supernatural and horror psychobabble that is King's mark.

I can't wait for the next book.


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