‘The Shining’ by Stephen King

The place Tony had warned him against. It was here. It was here. Whatever Redrum was, it was here.

In reference to Stephen King saying how he didn’t like the film adaption of his book ‘The Shining’—although it is not half bad, in terms of cinematography and scores—agreeably it takes away the true essence of horror from the novel; a slow, downward spiral of insanity from the effects of the hotel, not translating well into the film, given Jack Nicholson does have such looks.

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Split between three POVs, the story is told by Jack, Wendy, and Danny Torrence, a family standing in the Overlook Hotel over the winter months. Danny, the five-year old son, experiences visions, known as the shining, but he is frightened as to what they could mean. What is known is an evil force lurks within the hotel, and like Danny, it too shines.

Admittedly, I haven’t viewed King as the typical horror writer, but that’s not to say he isn’t to others; terrifying, no-sleep-at-night was what I prepared myself for, but instead I was faced with the creepy, grotesque kind of horror, which by all means is equally as good. Perhaps I’d been desensitised, or because I need the aid of cinema, or because of King’s style (which I’ll come back to), that I was left with the absence of fear. Although I didn’t feel that emotion, I still felt other emotions.

Abruptly, he started the car and put it in gear and drove away, trying not to look back. And of course he did, and of course the porch was empty. They had gone back inside. It was as if the Overlook had swallowed them.

Hazy feelings between pity and hatred for a recovering alcoholic who hurts his family—even before the influential hotel—sympathy for a jealous mother who does not receive the attention from her scared, innocent son. Strong characters that express those feelings with ease, described through explicit detail, which is also used for action, or backstory, fulfilling and the clear reason for why this book is a memorable one.

Having said that, King’s style, focusing on a significant chuck of backstory for each of the characters, is slightly overboard. Enlightening, and enjoyable to delve into the history, but when it is not broken up and instead told in long-winded segments, it takes the attention away from the main story itself. And, as I had seen many other readers say, the endings are anti-climatic; agreeably, this one in particular feels rushed, and weaker than the rest of the book.

Time passed. And he was just beginning to relax, just beginning to realise that the door must be unlocked and he could go, when the years-damp, bloat, fish-smelling hands closed softly around his throat and he was turned implacably around to stare into that dead and purple face.

Without doubt, the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. Subplots such as the shining—Danny being able to read minds, and see future or past—or scenes that don’t appear in the film, such as wasps stinging the family, or the trimmed hedges outside the hotel coming to life and attacking, the little things that emphasised the dark atmosphere or the Outlook; or Wendy and Jack’s relationship starting out with a lot more substance, making the downfall more convincing; an alternative ending which surprised me only slightly. Differences from the film that, as a whole, make a satisfying read.

Although the film adaption of ‘The Shining’ is great in its own merit, with amazing cinematography and unsettling appearances from the twins, the book, by far, is better with its source of originality and where it all begun.

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