Stephen King Book Review- The Shining

My next Stephen King book review is The Shining. A lot of people I talk to has never read this book and only know it from the Stanly Kubrick movie. It is a pretty interesting book and that has a slow build to a fantastic ending. Like Salem’s Lot this movie also has a place serving as a beacon of evil where horrible tragedies occurred. It produces some supernatural spirits inhabiting the property. However, it has a much deeper evil that is much more real to the average person being of an addictive nature.  

The story is about a former teacher named Jack Torrance who was fired from his teaching job because he beat up a student who slashed his tires. He is also recovering from being an alcoholic. He has a wife and son name Wendy and Danny. Wendy in this story is a house wife who is strong but stays with her husband. She is always fearful that her husband will go back to drinking and snap like he did one night when he was drunk and dislocated his son’s shoulder out of anger. Danny is five years old and is very intelligent. He also possesses a sort of psychic ability which is referred to as the shining.  

It is obvious at the beginning of the story that Jack does care for his family; he is just fighting his demons and addiction to alcohol and his temper. The story continues as Jack gets a job as a winter caretaker for the Overlook hotel in the Colorado Rockies with his family coming to stay with him even though they would practically be cut off from the world when it snowed. He also plans to write a play while up there. Before they travel Danny has a vision from his friend “Tony” who warns him of the danger of the hotel and he also hears a voice of someone that wants to kill him and his mother. 

They travel to the hotel and before all the staff leaves for the winter Danny meets Dick Hallorann who is the chef of the Overlook. He also has the same ability as Danny and even comments that Danny may even have a stronger ability then him. He warns Danny that he may see things at the hotel but tells him to look away because they are not real. He also tells him to use his shining ability to contact him if he ever needs help. 

The story continues and focuses on the family and their time at the Overlook hotel. Like in great Stephen King fashion it slowly builds up. You get little pieces here and there with enough to keep you reading to find out what is going to happen. Even though I knew what was going to happen because of how The Shining is in popular culture it still held my interest. You find out the horrid history of the Overlook hotel. You see a troubled man slowly go off the deep end and the claustrophobic feeling of being “trapped” in the hotel. Yes there are some ghostly encounters and parts about some hedge animals that I really enjoyed. While some may know the ending already it is a little different than in the popular movie and I suggest you read it to find out. 

This is another great example of Stephen King’s writing. At first you don’t know anything about the characters (of course) and Stephen Kings gives you bread crumbs along the way until you completely know and feel what the character is feeling. He even writes from the perspective of the five year old kid and his understanding of the world which I find a good talent.  

The story keeps you wondering what is going to happen even if you know the ending. You learn something knew or experience a scary moment and you want to keep reading. It makes you wonder about some hotels you stay at and the history behind it. Just like in my small town of Goldfield, NV and the famous Goldfield Hotel. I could see The Shining be set there if it was more secluded but with the history it has I am sure it would work out. 

As I mentioned above there is a much deeper evil then a beacon of evil or ghosts. There is the addictive nature of people that can make even the nicest person into something evil. A person could be addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex or anything bad of that nature. This can lead them to bad things to hurt themselves, family or friends. The story really shows this in the character of Jack Torrance who through the whole narrative craves to drink even though the hotel does not have any. The ghosts might have some maybe but not the hotel. What I find interesting and this is my opinion and might not even been Stephen King’s intention but as Jack Torrance becomes more obsessed or addicted to the hotel and wanting to “be accepted” by it he starts to do traits of what he did when he was drinking. For example he would wipe his lip with a handkerchief when he would drink. Now that he is addicted to the hotel he started doing that also.  

Addiction can be bad and it shows in the story. Like for example the incident with the abuse towards his son after drinking. This unfortunately happens a lot in world. I know people who ruined their lives because they were addicted to something. People have lost their families, hurt people or even killed people. It is unfortunate that it is common for a human to be addicted to something. However, I am proud of the people that overcame that addiction o those who did not give into the addiction. Those are strong people and ones that wanted to change their ways and life. Even if they realize to change their ways sometimes it is too late. Check out The Shining and you will see what I mean. 

Moral of the story: Even with a beacon of evil like the Overlook hotel or troublesome ghosts, a deeper evil is the addictive nature of the human psyche which can cause a lot of harm to those you love or yourself. 

I have two movies based on the book to review also. Look for those coming up soon. I also heard Stephen King is writing a sequel to The Shining. That should be interesting but it will be a long time for me until I get to read that. I give this book three stars out of five.  Who here has read The Shining? If so what did you think about it? Do you know people that are addicted to something and ruined their lives? If so let me know to hear your stories? If you are someone that was addicted to something and bad things happen please write in the comments section. Sometimes it is good to talk about it. Those are some questions for everyone and want to hear from you in the comments so let me know.

Like I said in the past I will have a tracker of the final ratings of each book or movie I reviewed to show what I liked or didn’t like. It is a rating based out of five stars. For previous reviews if you missed it you can click on the title and it will link to that review for you to read.

Books Reviewed:
Carrie ***
Salem’s Lot ***1/2

The Shining *** 

 Movies Reviewed:
Carrie (1976) ****
The Rage: Carrie 2 ***
Carrie (2002) ½* (Yes a half of a star out of five) 

Salem’s Lot (1979) **

A Return to Salem’s Lot *
Salem’s Lot (2004) ***1/2


Leave a Reply