The Shining by Stephen King
First published in 1977, The Shining quickly became a benchmark in the literary career of Stephen King. This tale of a troubled man hired to care for a remote mountain resort over the winter, his loyal wife, and their uniquely gifted son slowly but steadily unfolds as secrets from the Overlook Hotel’s past are revealed, and the hotel itself attempts to claim the very souls of the Torrance family. Adapted into a cinematic masterpiece of horror by legendary director Stanley Kubrick – featuring an unforgettable performance by a demonic Jack Nicholson – The Shining stands as a cultural icon of modern horror, a searing study of a family torn apart, and a nightmarish glimpse into the dark recesses of human weakness and dementia.
The first time I read The Shining was back in junior high and it terrified me. I didn’t even have the image of Jack Nicholson’s evil smile yet implanted in my head. The king of horror never ceases to amaze me, even the second time around. This time rereading it in my *coughs * forties *coughs* I got to fully appreciate King’s talent at fleshing out his characters. Filled with subtle horror, madness and a hotel that manifests and takes on a life of its own, this tale gave me all the creepy goodness only King can deliver.
While I cannot imagine you aren’t aware of the tale or at least watched the movie, the tale centers around recovering alcohol Jack Torrance and his struggling young family. After a breakdown that cost him his teaching career, they have been struggling to make ends meet. With a car about to choke out its last dying breath, he accepts a job as the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. * cue ominous music* Wendy his wife is very fragile and has seriously contemplated leaving good old Jack. Sadly she loves the loon and with a young clairvoyant son they travel with him to take up residence at the Overlook. Danny, oh poor Danny! He sees thing but is too young to articulate and shout, “we all gonna die if we go to that there hotel!!” Needless to say that as they head to the hotel * cue ominous music* with thoughts of bonding, writing and love the tale that unfolds is anything but a fairy-tale.
King has a unique ability to create dark, flawed and believable characters that stay with you long after having read the book. My husband and I are both huge King fans and still quote lines from our favorite Stephen King novels. “They all float down here”, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” “Get Busy Living or Get busy dying.” Jack Torrance is one twisted, broken, angry, demented, alcoholic recovering wanna- be. He is also charismatic, a sickly sweet talker and manipulator. While his intentions are good, somebody forgot to flip the switch on. Add in the Overlook hotel *dantdantdant* and you have the ingredients for sheer terror. Danny loves his Mom and Dad, and gets upset when he hears bad thoughts in his parent’s heads; like “divorce” and “suicide”. He really doesn’t understand the things he sees. That is until the creepy Dick Halloran tells him that he has his “shine on”. Danny’s gift is known as the Shining. (Hence the title) The hotel takes on a life of its own as it feeds on and grows stronger from evil committed on the premises. *shivers* Haunted houses have nothing on the Overlook. It is worse than the Hotel California.
Stephen King slowly draws you into the tale and its characters. You become completely lost in the corners of his warped mind. The lines between his world and reality blur. He slowly builds the suspense of the tale, carefully weaving in the gooey creepiness he is so well known for. Finally you reach a point where your hands are sweating, your heart is racing and there is not a chance in Haiti that you are setting this book down. His portrayal of Jack’s madness was genius and so well fleshed out. Add in the hotel’s growing interest in Danny and *squee* you are in the middle of a book high that will not quit! The supernatural elements only enhanced the tale as the story picked up speed. It had me racing to it conclusion. While I love many of Stephen King’s work, this tale will forever be one of my favorites. He is and always will be on my auto-buy list. If you love horror, then my guess is his book(s) already graces your bookshelf.
One of the reasons I chose to reread The Shining was because of the announcement that Stephen wrote a second book to this tale called Doctor Sleep. Scheduled to be released in 2013, it will tell the tale of a grown-up Danny Torrance and his quest to save a special twelve year old girl from a murderous tribe of paranormals. *I know right, I shivered too* The True Knot tribe lives off the “steam” that children with the “Shining” produce but only if you torture them to death!! I plan to devour it as soon as it’s available.
I gave this novel 4.5 coffee cups out of 5