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[530] The Shining – Stephen King


‘The people in the hotel,’ he said. He looked at her then, and his eyes weren’t indifferent at all. They were deep and scared. ‘All the . . . the things in the hotel. There’s all kind of them. The hotel is stuffed with them. I don’t want to see,’ he said low, and then looked back at the rubber ball, arcing from hand to hand. ‘But I can hear them sometimes, late at night. They’re like wind, all sighing together. In the attic. The basement. The rooms. All over. I thought it was my fault, because of the way I am.’ (Ch.39, p.479)

I read The Shining for two reasons: I have never read Stephen King and I crave for a spooker. The classic for sure does not disappoint, and that King’s timely announcement of a sequel is on the way makes the perfect incentive to read it. The Shining is the story of Jack Torrance, who is employed as the caretaker of the gargantuan Overlook Hotel in Colorado one winter. Moving his wife, Wendy, and their son, Danny, into it for the season after all the summer guests leave, he hopes to find peace: to finish his writing project, to escape his latent alcoholism, to make amend for his marriage and to stitch his fractured family together. But when they are alone, they are astounded that the smelly reputation of the hotel has been true—the Overlook is coming to life around them.

It had been all right until he had seen Danny playing in the snow. It was Danny’s fault. Everything had been Danny’s fault. He was the one with the shining, or whatever it was. It wasn’t shining, it was a curse. If he and Wendy had been here alone, they could have passed the winter quite nicely. No pain, no strain on the brain. (Ch.33, p.415)

Now 5-year-old Danny can “shine,” a fact that recognized by the hotel cook Mr. Hallorann, who himself has that psychic ability. Danny has premonitions of Overlook’s danger to his family upon arrival but keeps to himself because he knows his father needs the job. He begins to see ghosts and frightening visions of the hotel’s past, including a woman in the bathtub of room 217 who had been dead for a long time. The Overlook Hotel has actually come alive—and this is what gives the book its sheer horror. Stephen King captures the sheer inhuman evil of his locale and thus keeps his readers riveted. The hotel is alive as we turn the pages: huge and vacant, with secrets hidden everywhere. Haunted bathrooms, the echoing memories of debauched parties, the incessant elevator, a topiary animal garden that seems to come to life. The clicks and clanks, the hummings, the rattlings, the snaps and the whooshes. The hotel wears its malevolence on its sleeve. As “it” has difficulty possessing Danny, it begins to possess Jack and gnaws at him, turning him against his family and frustrating his need and desire to work.

I heard them too. And that means the hotel is getting stronger. It wants to hurt all of us. But I think . . . I hope . . . that it can only do that through your daddy. (Ch.46, p.550)

The evil is encroaching, and it could be that Danny’s shining has empowered it. The book does end with an explosive climax, pun intended, that sends me over the edge. It’s almost like fighting against unknown, unseen evil. The characters understand the hotel is evil; that it sought Danny, his power, and that it would do anything it could to get him. This book is a big spooker, atmospherically speaking, and haunts me tremendously.

659 pp. Anchor Books. Pocket Paper. [Read/Skim/Toss] [Buy/Borrow]


3 Responses

  1. Redrum!

    I actually went to the hotel that inspired The Shining, the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado! It is supposedly haunted, and when Kind stayed there that inspired him. He also wrote some of the book there as well!

  2. I’m not a huge Stephen King fan, especially of anything after he wrote Insomnia. I have meant to read this one at some point in time though.

  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, although maybe “enjoyed” is the wrong word for it…ha! Now you need to rent the movie so you can see how Kubrick interpreted the novel for film. It is an interesting contrast. I have to say that I think that the book is much scarier but watch the movie and let us know what you think.

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