ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. Stephen King has been scaring us to death for more than four decades. And in his latest effort, he revisits one of his best, most terrifying novels, which also inspired this film classic.
(SOUNDBITE FROM FILM "THE SHINING")
JACK NICHOLSON: (As Jack) Here's Johnny!
SIEGEL: That, of course, is Jack Nicholson in "The Shining." The novel came out back in 1977. And King's newest book, "Doctor Sleep," is a sequel. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, says it was worth the wait.
ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Redrum, redrum. If you remember anything at all from reading "The Shining," it'll probably be that ghostly message - murder spelled backward - in a haunted resort in the Colorado Rockies, in the midst of a blizzardy winter. I was so terrified reading that book, I lay almost paralyzed, stretched out on a sofa in a house in Knoxville, Tenn., three nights running, fearful for the life of a young child with the power of shining - or mind reading mixed with telekinesis.
His name was Danny Torrance. "Doctor Sleep," the sequel to "The Shining," gives us the story of Danny - now Dan - Torrance's adult life; his wrestling match with alcohol, and his struggle to find stability and use his power, the shining, for good purposes. And it's a good thing he does. The threat of overwhelming evil appears quickly in this new book, in the person of the beautiful Rose with the hat, the leader of a nomadic group called the True Knot; long-lived, extra-human, vampire-like creatures who feed on human beings gifted with the power of the shining. They kill them and breathe in the exhilarating, so-called steam from the dying victims. Murder spelled forward.
True Knot makes its summer home in the same Colorado location as the now-in-ruins, haunted hotel from "The Shining." While working in New England, troubled Dan finds himself contacted telekinetically by a local schoolgirl named Abra, whose shining powers are not merely stronger than his, but powerful enough to catch the attention of True Knot Rose all the way on the other side of the country. And so an horrific battle is joined, the onset of a deadly struggle between Rose and the True Knotters and young Abra, with Dan playing a decisive role on the side of the schoolgirl.
I could hardly find the courage to turn the page. Nearly 40 years later, I've changed, art has changed, the planet has changed - and Stephen King still scares the hell out of me.
SIEGEL: The book is "Doctor Sleep," from Stephen King. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, teaches writing at George Mason University. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.