- Title: The Shining
- Author: Stephen King
- Genre: Fiction, Horror
- Pages: 688
- Format: Paperback
- Other: Amazon, GoodReads
- Grade: A(5/5)
Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.
Stephen King is a household name, at least here in the states. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t know at least one novel by Stephen King. After all, some of the most famous horror films out there are based on one of his novels.
Anyway, I think Stephen King is one of those authors everyone should read, even if its just one book. But I guess I’m a little biased. He’s been one of my favorite authors since I was eleven and my dad gave me a copy of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.
So yes, I’ve been a fan of his for well over a decade, and no, I hadn’t read The Shining. So obviously, I decided to remedy that, and I’m so glad that I did.
Like in most of his novels, King spends time developing his characters, making them feel whole and real, before diving into the plot. And this is one of the things that I love about King. His characters are real and raw, and the characters in The Shining are just that. The novel is written in third-person limited, usually from the point of view of Jack or his son, Danny. But despite this, the other characters like Wendy are still whole people, despite the biased perspectives of our narrators.
Even the characters who you probably shouldn’t like felt like real people. And honestly, I think he takes his own character’s advice. Like Jack, he doesn’t pick a side. He finds something to love about all of his characters, and that is what makes them feel real. And I think this is especially important in the horror genre. If we don’t connect with the characters, then we won’t feel scared when we should feel scared, we won’t feel that anxiety, and we definitely won’t tell them to not go in that room where the murderer is hiding under the bed.
But not only that, the world was fleshed out. Most of the novel takes place in the Overlook, the hotel where Jack gets a job. I could imagine everything about it, from the creepy hedges to Wendy and Jack’s little apartment. Everything was so vivid.
And the story is engaging. It isn’t because it’s action packed. A good portion of the novel isn’t action-packed. It’s about discovering things, noticing details that should be warnings, and exploring the Torrances’ family dynamics.
It’s also quite scary, which you know, is expected. But it’s scary because of the pacing. There’s this constant dread. You know something bad is going to happen, you know to expect something terrifying. And King takes his time with the most terrifying scenes, building up tension slowly, making the minutes drag on for both you and the character. Seriously, I had nightmares from this book, and that’s what I want from a horror novel.
But even though it’s classified as horror, The Shining still manages to explore real issues. It touches on the cycle of abuse and alcoholism, mental illness, and briefly, racism. It isn’t just a “genre” novel that’s about chills and thrills. It’s so much more than that.
I can see why The Shining was so successful. It’s engaging and terrifying, but it also touches on real issues, and more importantly, the characters felt like real people. So if you’re looking for a good horror novel, if you’re a fan of Stephen King, or if you haven’t read any of his books yet, I highly recommend you check this one out.