Book #10

The Shining by Stephen King

Danny is only five years old, but he is a 'shiner', aglow with psychic voltage. When his father becomes caretaker of an old hotel, his visions grow out of control. Cut off by blizzards, the hotel seems to develop an evil force, and who are the mysterious guests in the supposedly empty hotel?

This was my first try at a Stephen King novel, and I enjoyed it much more than I had originally thought I would.

I think everyone is familiar with the general plot of The Shining due to Stanley Kubrick's movie adaptation of the book. I first saw the film with an entire bottle of wine already sloshing its way around my stomach, so I didn't understand much and blamed the wine. The book is more in depth than the film could ever have hoped to have been, and I feel that now I have a much firmer grasp of what was going on. Whether that is a triumph on King's part, and a flaw on Kubrick's, I couldn't possibly comment.

My favourite thing about the book was the tension, the slow build-up to things happening, the gradual way the characters succumbed to insanity, which in turn led to all normality crumbling in slow motion around them.

King's development of the plot and characters, particularly the Torrance family, is fantastic. I felt myself sympathising even for Jack Torrance's battle with his unravelling writer's mind - one which really should be able to distinguish between fact and fiction, but in the end loses this ability completely.

Danny was my favourite character - his courage and growth throughout the novel was gratifying, and, although in the beginning he was scared and confused by his powers, the way he matures in enough time to stand up to the face of evil really pulled at my heart strings.

The Shining shows how a physical location can be haunted by awful things that have happened there, and that's what scared me most. The idea of isolation also terrified me, with the Torrance family being so far from home and help.

I enjoyed the complex, moving storyline, and the depth of the tale and the characters. I'll definitely be trying another Stephen King novel before too long.

I'll conclude with a scene from Friends:

Rachel: Hmm. (she opens the freezer) Umm, why do you have a copy of The Shining in your freezer?

Joey: Oh, I was reading it last night, and I got scared, so.

Rachel: But ah, you’re safe from it if it’s in the freezer?

Joey: Well, safer. Y'know, I mean I never start reading The Shining, without making sure we’ve got plenty of room in the freezer, y'know.

Rachel: How often do you read it?

Joey: Haven’t you ever read the same book over and over again?

Rachel: Well, umm, I guess I read Little Women more than once. But I mean that’s a classic, what’s so great about The Shining?

Joey: The question should be Rach, what is not so great about The Shining. Okay? And the answer would be: nothing. All right? This is like the scariest book ever. I bet it’s way better than that classic of yours.

Oh! And I'll never be able to look at a topiary garden square in the eye again.

10 / 66 books. 15% done!