The Shining by Stephen King

Somehow I’ve made it to this age having only read one Stephen King novel (Pet Sematary). So I decided to remedy this by reading The Shining, which I had heard was immensely creepy. I had also liked the movie as well, which also inspired my reading of this novel. I did enjoy the book, it was frightening at some parts but also had a good back story as well.

Jack Torrance and his family have been hired to be caretakers at the famous Overlook Hotel during the winter season. Since roads become impassable in the winter to get to the motel, they will be the only ones around to take care of the place. It will also help Jack get back on his feet after being fired from his last job and also his recovery from being an alcoholic. With him is his wife Wendy and his son Danny. Together they will spend their time at the hotel with a fully stocked larder preparing for winter and just enjoying each other’s company while being a healing family. The Overlook has other plans however. With a warning in his head from the hotel chef before he left Danny knows the place is sinister. He has what the cook (Hallorann) calls the “Shining” which is the ability to perceive things and have precognition. The Overlook wants Danny and this ability, and with its dark history, will stoop to using Jack’s weaknesses to get its way. The Overlook wants to party once more.

Jack is a very tragic character with few redeeming qualities. He tries to be a strong family man, but really is just too weak. Between the temptation of alcohol and his fondness for chewing aspirin he has several addictions. And these addictions make him dangerous before the hotel even starts influencing him. Wendy was more of a filler character. She was there to be strong for Danny and offer Jack a few problems, but the book doesn’t give as much focus to her. Danny of course is greatly intriguing with his “shining”. It was an interesting concept to give the boy and really plays an integral part in the book. I liked Hallorann really well. He was a very cool character and helped explain some of the more complicated aspects of the story.

King is a very entertaining writer. He comes up with these crazy ideas and is able to get them down on paper. He does a lot of character development in this book and while I always appreciate that, it does make the first third of the book somewhat slow moving. I also would have liked to see more scary scenes in the book although possibly the movie could have made me crave this more. As a warning there is a lot of harsh language in this book and it might not be appropriate for some children. Parental discretion is advised. Otherwise, there were a few things that were offensive as well which could affect all ages.

It was an interesting book and some parts really kept me at the edge of my seat. Yes, there were a few things that could have been improved, but overall the book was good. I look forward to reading more of his work.

The Shining
Copyright 1977
464 pages