As announced on Stephen King's own website, the famed horror author will be releasing a sequel to 1977's The Shining on 24 September 2013. The book will be called Doctor Sleep and it's all about Danny. I was skeptical at first. For one thing, I'm not a big fan of the original novel. I think King spends a bit too much time building the characters and world before anything important happens. It's not poorly written, just a bit too slow for my tastes.
For another, it's been 35 years since the novel was released. What more could be said at this point? Ira Levin pulled this with Son of Rosemary 30 years after Rosemary's Baby and it was a disaster. The time difference meant a huge shift in tone and voice. The film, made for TV movie, and zeitgeist of Rosemary as a pop culture brand changed the context of the story so much that a direct sequel was bound to fail.
With something a popular as The Shining, I question how the continuity and style will hold up. More people have probably seen Stanley Kubrick's brilliant (but very loose) adaptation of the novel than actually read the original novel. There might even be people who have only seen the more accurate but less engaging made for TV adaptation from 1997. Despite the relative quality of all three versions of the story, they're all very different. Would King be able to stay true to the original novel if he wanted to?
But then I did a little digging into Doctor Sleep. King first announced the idea during a book tour in 2009. The concept is removed enough from the original novel to actually work.
Young Danny Torrance is now an adult working in a hospice. His psychic powers have only grown stronger since groundskeeper Dick Hallorann taught him all about the shining. Danny's job involves helping terminally ill patients pass over with his abilities.
I think this is one of the more intriguing novel ideas Stephen King has had in some time. My big issue with his writing is not his concepts but his execution. In short story format, he can get in, get out, and leave the idea to rest. In a novel, he either explores everything with buckets of blood or explores a twisted world while a story slowly goes on in the background. He's passionate about his ideas and I applaud that. I just wish that he would go for a tighter edit.
Will Doctor Sleep live up to the high expectations set by The Shining? I hope so. The concept feels like a warm cocoon surrounding the original story. Could Danny have saved his family from the perils of the Overlook Hotel if his powers were better developed? Does he resent learning about his abilities at such a young age? Doctor Sleep could turn into a nice commentary on the original novel and that excites me.
What do you think? Sound off below.