Releasing a fiction sequel more than thirty years after its predecessor is the kind of gambit only Stephen King can pull off (though credit is due to The Shining movie he’s so consistently talked down) and King, fortunately, seems to recognize the absurdity of trying to pick up where we left off in the 70s. Doctor Sleep, The Shining’s 2013 sequel, is cast forward — through Danny Torrance’s troubled teenage years and his struggle to forget the Overlook (uh, YEAH), and into the present, where Obama is president, the Internet exists, and an adolescent boy band called ‘Round Here is at peak popularity. Even Twitter gets a mention.
In the present, Dan has learned – mostly through drinking – to temper his visions, and wanders from town to town doing odd jobs until some drunken episode forces him to pack up and move on. It’s only after settling down and getting sober that he is forced to face his shining head-on, and in so doing stumbles across a young girl in need of his help.
Dan is 100 percent an Official Stephen King Male Protagonist: scrappy guy with a dubious past, a heart of gold and maybe a substance-abuse problem (see: Eddie fromThe Dark Tower series, Stu in The Stand, Dale from Under the Dome, etc.) But Danny is, of course, no stranger – we’ve already seen him defeat evil shrubbery and a bathtub-hoarding lady corpse – and so I was from the very first page rooting for him, and against whatever wicked shit I assumed King had cooked up.