Friday, October 23, 2015

The Shining by Stephen King

Publication Date:  January 28, 1977
Publisher:  Anchor
Pages:  512
Series:  The Shining #1
Genre:  Horror
Synopsis:  Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr Halloran he was a 'shiner', aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control. 

As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of its own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive? 

Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel - and that too had begun to shine... 

Review:  I think we all know about Stephen King and the ominous Overlook Hotel, have all heard about the terror this book is supposed to strike into your heart.  Supposed to, that is.

I wanted, more than anything else, to be so horribly afraid that I had to sleep with the light on in fear of what lurked in the darkness, to be so shaken up that every creak of the stair made me jump.  It has been an agonizing amount of time since any book, movie, or TV show has inspired such dread.  It will be a long time still, since even the king of horror has failed to see me scared.

Sometimes human places, create inhuman monsters.

Well, I concede that The Shining may yet be a nightmare in the making for you.  I admit that I do not spook easily.  The apparitions of a hundred year old parties and long dead corpses in bathrooms are certainly terrifying in theory.  However, I do not think that anyone in their right mind would think hedge animals to be the epitome of fear.  In fact, I would argue that this novel is not, in fact, horror.  Yes, there are spirits and there are murderers and psychics, but the majority of the book is spent reflecting on the past and the future rather than experiencing the very few instances of ghostly appearances.

The Shining is lengthy to an unnecessary extent.  Throughout the process of reading this book, I had more than one moment where I paused and thought, "What was the point of that 2+ pages being included?"  I blame the lack of a decent editor on this one.

Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.

While it does disappoint in the scare department, it does do a brilliant job at psychological insight.  Jack, one of the main characters, is a former alcoholic--but once an addict, always an addict.  There is an array of deep rooted issues, from the heredity of  abusive tendencies to jealousy.  These are explored in great length and I commend Stephen King for his realistic depiction of the descent into madness.

The plot is not new.  It is a classic tale of haunted house and the specters who reside there.  It is predictable, yes, but that doesn't stop you holding your breath from anticipation of the explosive, if expected, climax.

The characters, while utterly contemptible, are richly realistic.  There is a never ending depth of flaws and insecurities that paint them to be nothing but human.  Jack and Wendy are attempting to put their lives back together, and their marriage.  While Jack may be troubled, he has good intentions.  Good intentions that do not mix well with evil spirits.  Wendy, on the other hand, is weak and, above all, endlessly irritating.  I never could bring myself to like her. 

We sometimes need to create unreal monsters and bogies to stand in for all the things we fear in our real lives. 

In a strange turn of events, my favorite character ended up being the psychic five year old, Danny, who seemed to manage his life better than any of the grown ups.  Hallorann is another side character of interest who manages to stay kind and true to the end.

While I was disappointed in not being left wide eyed and terrified once again, The Shining is a solid book with interesting characterization, decent writing, and dramatics that could top any teenage girl.

3 Keys


  1. I am glad you were able to still enjoy this enough even if it wasn't as scary as you wanted. I am a baby and get scared super easy so I am sure it would get me. I haven't read a lot of Stephen King and when I did it was so long ago. I do remember wnjoying them though. Great review!

    1. I'm glad, too! Yeah, my father told me to not even speak about this book to him since he doesn't like scary stories either. This was my first Stephen King book, actually! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Stephen King often writes lots of horror, but I'm quite shocked this didn't come off as scary or terrifying as you and I would have expected it to. :/ And the fact that this book unnecessarily writes some stuff. I don't read Stephen King, but I was intrigued by some of his other books. I don't think I would want to pick this up though :(

    Great review Erin!

    Jillian @ Jillian's Books

    1. I was also shocked! Everyone has always talked about how terrifying his books are, so I expected to be HORRIFIED. Oh well, I guess. I have heard his Dark Tower series is good, but, honestly, I only read his book because I wanted to be scared. :/ Thanks for commenting, Jillian!

  3. Amazing post dear! You have a wonderful blog:)
    What about following each other on Instagram, Bloglovin, Twitter?:)

    1. Thank you very much! :D

      And I don't have a Bloglovin' (should I?), but I do have a Twitter--@archivisterin

  4. Stephen King books are supposed to be really scary, right? I spook SO easily it ain't even funny ;-D but this book didn't scare you?? I never go near horror stories but even I have heard the hype about how chilling this book is supposed to be... Maybe this is just proof of your magical powers? I mean, superheroes aren't afraid of anything. ♡

    1. Yes, they are! But I don't scare easily at all and so even the king of horror failed to instill fear in me.

  5. Brilliant review! I've yet to read King, but I desperately want to. I love scary stuff, though, so maybe this book will also disappoint me? I might give it a go, I'm not sure...

    New GFC follower :)

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

    1. Thanks, Amy! Stephen King didn't scare me as much as I expected but I also don't scare easily at all. I would give it a try!