They eat screams: stephen kings shining is back

"Doctor Sleep" is the sequel to the horror classic "Shining" by Stephen King.

(Photo: Random House Audio)

In 1977 Stephen King’s bestseller appeared "Shining". The boy Danny plays the main role in it, he is clairvoyant. Danny is now an adult, an alcoholic and works as "Doctor Sleep" in a hospice. When he meets little Abra, the demons return from his childhood.

Life is like a wheel, the only task of which is to turn – and it always returns to its original situation. This is an old popular saying, the latest proof of which is the best-selling author and "King of horror" Stephen King delivers. The said bike started in the late 1970s in the snowy Colorado mountains and with the terrible events in the Overlook Hotel around the Torrance family and that "Shining" of the son Danny and has now arrived in the present: "Doctor Sleep" Dan is named as an adult because of his clairvoyance.

In 1979, Stanley Kubrick made King’s bestseller "Shining" congenial with Jack Nicholson as Danny’s father Jack.

(Photo: Warner Bros)

Dan has had a hard life since his drunken father Jack once tried to look over and kill him and Danny’s mother. Jack died at the time because the hotel’s boiler had exploded, burying his father, the hotel and all of its more than 100 rooms and the evil spirits in them, under rubble and ashes. Danny got away, his mother Wendy survived, but seriously injured. He never forgot his father. With every glass that the now alcoholic adult Dan tilts down, Jack toasts him from the afterlife. This has a family tradition, because Jack’s father was also an alcoholic.

Only the ability of shining, the clairvoyance, Dan has from the motherly side of the family, it seems. But as a reason to resort to alcohol, clairvoyance is sufficient. This is the only way Dan can hold back the ghosts from the past, from the Overlook Hotel, it seems: "The thoughts were the school board, schnapps was the sponge."

But like every alcoholic, Dan tries to get rid of his addiction and change his life from scratch: He gets on a bus and ends up in Frazier, a cafe somewhere in New Hampshire. The first person he met was Billy Freeman, the train driver of a small train in town, which is the area’s tourist attraction in the summer months. The two get on brilliantly right away and with Billy’s help Dan also manages to land a job – however, he has to remain sober, as Casey Kingsley, the head of the railway, makes clear to him. Kingsley is a tough dog, but fair – and he becomes Dan’s sponsor to AA, Alcoholics Anonymous.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears

Dan does his best, both in the job and in the fight against the devil. He keeps a notebook and writes there one day "Abra" without reason or knowing why. He changes jobs and now works in a hospice in Frazier. His grandfather was already a nurse, but that didn’t stop him from beating his wife with a walking stick – in front of Dan’s father Jack’s child’s eyes.

Stephen King "Doctor Sleep" has been released as an audio book by Random House Audio.

(Photo: Random House Audio)

But Dan is different, thanks to his clairvoyance, he is always there when a soul in the hospice wants to leave this world again. He helps that "guests" the hospice to the other side, accompanies them. That brings him the friendly nickname "Doctor Sleep" on.

Dan notes his "death row" on a blackboard in his room when "Abra" reappears and now tries to contact him across the board. Dan quickly suspects that the mysterious writer like him must have the shining. Since the strength is also much more pronounced than with himself, it must be a child, because clairvoyance wears off with age, as Dan knows from his buddy, the black cook Dick Hallorann, who once used to do it in the Overlook Hotel and also afterwards helped to learn more about its mysterious power – and to learn to deal with it, to live with it as best it can.

Abra and Dan now communicate again and again without seeing each other. They meet quite late. Dan now knows that Abra is still a child, that it was she who made him do it, "Abra" to write in his notebook. And: That she cried continuously in the days leading up to September 11, 2001, and didn’t stop until the two planes hit the World Trade Center. Abra was just a few months old.

They eat screams and drink pain

But it wasn’t just Dan who became aware of Abra. Rose O’Hara, better known as "Rose the Hat" because of a black cylinder on their Head, which she never seems to take off, has picked up the weather from Abra. Rose is the head of a sect, the "True knot", that has existed for centuries and is incredibly powerful. The secret: it behaves completely unobtrusively on the outside. Although she travels through the country as a huge camp horse, no one notices the sect: Anyone who sees the Winnebagos and Earthcruisers will have forgotten them again in the next moment – just like the undead they carry, retirees in polyester clothing and common tourists. It doesn’t get any more inconspicuous

David Nathan, a well-known voice actor, reads "Doctor Sleep".

(Photo: David Nathan)

But what is happening behind the inconspicuous facade is sick, inhumane and deadly: the sect has existed for a long time because it lives off Steam. This is the last breath of life for children with shining. The sect finds them, catches them and then kills them slowly and painfully – this is the only way to win the Steam, which the cult members can then inhale and continue to exist.

When they kill a little clairvoyant boy from Iowa, Abra watches her shining unintentionally. Rose notices this, but she also recognizes the potential in Abra, the tremendous life energy it represents for the sect. From there the deadly camper van begins to hunt Abra. Abra himself is shocked by the boy’s death, Dan is the only person who can listen to her and understand her. He knows that Abra is in danger.

Together with his friend Billy and Abraham’s doctor, Dr. Dalton (Dan knows him from Alcoholics Anonymous) devises a plan to protect Abra from the True Knot. With a trick he succeeds at first. But in the end the wheel of life keeps turning and brings Dan back to the Colorado mountains, back to the place of his most terrible childhood experiences, back to the remains of the Overlook Hotel – now a camping site and also the temporary home of the True Knot. A showdown is coming and it has a lot of surprises in store.

Back to the horror roots

Hasn’t forgotten anything about his writing skills: Stephen King (of Horror).

(Photo: picture alliance / dpa)

With "Doctor Sleep" delivers horror genius Stephen King almost 40 years after his bestseller "Shining" his successor. He draws on well-known characters, adds a few new ones and squeezes their entire history into around 700 hardcover pages – or in more than 20 hours of audio book enjoyment. Because that’s the result of what came out of it.

For some, 700-page books are easy "too much". Three CDs appear as an entertaining change. However, you should read the small print on the cover in advance: "Unabridged version, 3 MP3 CDs, 20 hours 15 minutes." Auweia … But it turns out that King has not forgotten his skills even after tens of years in the horror bestseller business: It doesn’t take long and you’re from the story that comes out of the speakers with the sonorous voice of David Nathan , excited. David Nathan? Johnny Depp! Christian Bale! Paul Walker! Nathan is the German voice of these Hollywood stars.

According to Nathan, what is important for Nathan is that the book is good. At King that is case. "It is really outstanding what he writes there", he says in an audible interview. "It’s just a pleasure to read it. He has a wonderful, pictorial language." The writing is dense, intense and "snotty". "I like it very much", Nathan emphasizes.

And Nathan’s voice goes perfectly with this one "Write", About the figures: No matter whether child, man, woman, loving husband, terminally ill great-grandmother, fearful girl or loving cult leader – he can breathe life into all figures. Like a reader, in whose head word by word, line by line and page by page, a fantasy world builds up, word by word, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter, arises in the head of the listener. One sees Rose the Hats fumbling fang with which she eats the Steam, the last breath of life of the Shining children, with relish. You stand by Dan in his day-to-day fight against alcohol, get excited with Abra – and at the end you ask yourself: Was that all??

King’s bestseller "Shining" followed Stanley Kubrick’s cult film of the same name with the congenial Jack Nicholson as Danny’s father. A filming is also likely "Doctor Sleep" not long in coming. And anyway – without revealing too much: the end of "Doctor Sleep" is not a real end. Because as the saying goes: Life is like a wheel, the only job of which is to turn …

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