It’s been hotly anticipated for decades: the follow-up to Stephen King’s The Shining – a book that was translated into a film by famed director Stanley Kubrick, and the movie that shot actor Jack Nicholson to fame.
The Shining is the stuff of horror legend – a slice of cinema as influential in film-making today as it is in popular culture at large. Recently, we’ve even seen the word ‘REDRUM’ graffiti-ed on so many walls of inner-city Perth, we’ve wondered if there was some kind of guerrilla art campaign going on.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand and responses to those inevitable questions: will Doctor Sleep stand up to the brilliance of The Shining, will it eventualy be turned into a movie, and will we soon start seeing quotes from it virally spread across Twitterland?
In the press release for the book, Stephen King says he “wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance”, the kid at the heart of The Shining, after his terrifying experience at the Overlook Hotel, and so the author has been quietly working on its follow-up.
The book picks up the story of the now middle-aged Dan, working in a hospice in rural New Hampshire, on a mission to save a special 12-year-old girl from a tribe of creepy murderous paranormals. But before Dan can play saviour unto others, he’s got to save himself – from a bout of alcoholism (probably inherited from his father), a very bad temper (ditto), and the insistent presence of ghosts from the Overlook Hotel who continue to haunt him even as a middle-aged man.
Of course, since the release of The Shining, paranormal activity in popular culture has been ubiquitous – particularly over the past half-decade. So when King goes to write such a highly anticipated novel, he knows he’s got to get it right. And indeed he does, alluding oh-so subtly to popular postmodern texts like Twilight and Game Of Thrones, but still delivering a prose that is definitively his very own.
King is so seasoned at writing terror texts – the story is written in such effortless eerie prose that the reader can almost hear, touch, even smell the action coming off the printed page – he could probably do so in his sleep.
Sure, he has a lot to live up to with The Shining being of such high standard for the usually disposable genre that is horror (thanks in no small part to the filmic adaptation) and I’m pretty sure King was racking his brains for a good part of the writing process for a catch-phrase that might catch on as massively as Jack Torrance’s ‘Heeeeeere’s Johnny!’ but all obvious expectations aside, Doctor Sleep is a darn good read in its own right.
Doctor Sleep is published through Hodder and Stoughton, and distributed in Australia through Hachette, RRP $32.99.