Series: The Shining #1
on August 2, 2005
Source: Simon & Schuster Audio
First published in 1977, The Shining quickly became a benchmark in the literary career of Stephen King. This tale of a troubled man hired to care for a remote mountain resort over the winter, his loyal wife, and their uniquely gifted son slowly but steadily unfolds as secrets from the Overlook Hotel's past are revealed, and the hotel itself attempts to claim the very souls of the Torrance family. Adapted into a cinematic masterpiece of horror by legendary director Stanley Kubrick -- featuring an unforgettable performance by a demonic Jack Nicholson -- The Shining stands as a cultural icon of modern horror, a searing study of a family torn apart, and a nightmarish glimpse into the dark recesses of human weakness and dementia.
I first read The Shining when I was 19 years old, and while I liked it, at the time it did not rank among my favorite King books, possible because I was too familiar with the movie version. It’s weird to re-read Stephen King books and be close in age to the main characters- when did I get so old? It definitely enriches the reading though, because before I was still more in the age of childhood than true adult-ism. Now, the struggles of Jack and Wendy’s marriage, the financial strain and fears, all of that is easier to relate to as a 36 year old (seriously, when did I get so old?).
The book is much different from the movie, which is full of Kubrick and lacking in King. The inner struggle that Jack Torrance feels as the hotel works it’s evil influence over him, and how loving and caring and special Danny is, and how non-annoying Wendy is, none of that comes through in the movie version (although the miniseries with Steven Webber as Jack is much better).
The audiobook was read by actor Campbell Scott, and he did a great job bringing the novel to light, his voice actually scaring me a bit when the Hotel or Jack were screaming vile things. The last part of the book, with Dick’s desperate attempts to get to Danny during a snow storm and Wendy’s struggles to keep her and her son alive from the husband that wants to kill them, is delivered with proper intensity.
The Shining is about a haunted, malevolent hotel, but it’s also about what’s inside us, what we’re capable when the darkness takes over. For Danny and Dick, their inner shining is a bright light that keeps the evil at bay, but for Jack Torrance, his inner light is dim and weakened by his own disappointments. His self doubt and failures has turned him bitter, and despite his love for Danny and Wendy, he is an easy mark for the hotel. Fearing someone you love is even more frightening than deranged topiary- which I have to believe were the inspiration for Doctor Who’s Weeping Angels. With Doctor Sleep out already, I’m glad that I refreshed my memory of The Shining and who Danny Torrance is so that I can better understand who he has become in the sequel.
This book is pretty much one long Midnight Moment, but the scene that freaked me out the most was probably Danny’s snowbound romp with the topiary animals. Holy poop, ya’ll it’s scary.
Stop the Clock:
For all you Friends fans out there, you’ll understand why Joey kept The Shining in the freezer. It’s terrifying and unsettling and, in other words, the perfect book to read during the month of October.
The Shining (The Shining #1) gets a Midnight Book Rating of:
The code word is: Anna
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