With Doctor Sleep, Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his previous novels, The Shining. The novel features the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the twelve-year-old girl, Abra Stone, who possesses an even greater psychic ability ("shining") than Danny did as a child.
Following the events of The Shining, Danny remains psychologically traumatized; Wendy, his mother, is still in pain from her recovered injuries. Angry ghosts from The Overlook Hotel eventually find Danny, including the woman from Room 217. Chef Hallorann eventually teaches Danny how to imprison the ghosts in lock boxes inside his mind.
The adult Dan reprises his father's legacy of anger and alcoholism. Dan drifts for decades, but eventually finds AA and gives up drinking. He settles in a New Hampshire town and works in a nursing home, where his remnant mental abilities provide comfort to the dying. With the aid of a cat that can foresee the future, Dan became "Doctor Sleep."