I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
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 spunky 12-year-old 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."
Read to fill the “Modern Masters of Horror” square of my 2017 Halloween Bingo card.
I must be getting tougher as I read more in the horror genre—I barely twinged when the Overlook ghosts showed up in this sequel to The Shining! As sequels go, I thought this one was done really well. I read it all in one sitting, stayed up until 2 a.m. to do so, and I didn’t cower under the bedclothes once!
What really impressed me was King’s depiction of struggling sobriety. As Dan sits outside a dive bar and longs to go in to sample that first drink that will wreck 15 years of being straight, I felt that longing right along with him, the desire to drown myself in booze, despite the fact that I have never had an alcohol problem. Write what you know, the advice goes, and this seems to be absolutely true in this instance. I’m betting the author has felt that same desire on more than one occasion!
As with The Shining, the true horror in this story is what regular people can do to each other and themselves, the destructiveness of addiction, and the rarity of kindness.