The Shining by Stephen King was my third King read in October and the scariest! Things that go bump in the night and me don’t usually get along. I don’t like scary movies so I approached this book cautiously. And while I found it all kinds of scary, it was also a damn good book and a great example of suspense in a cabin fever setting.
The Shining is about a family of three: Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy and their extraordinary five-year-old son, Danny. Jack is a man with issues. He’s a writer and was a university teacher until his drinking and violent behaviour sees him lose his job. A friend pulls some strings and gets him a caretaker job at the Overlook Hotel, high in the Colorado Rockies. Jack and his family are to live in the empty hotel when it’s shut down over the winter. Empty of guests and employees, it’s just the three of them in a huge hotel that has a colourful and scary past. It’s a place where there have been many violent incidents over the years. It’s also a place that gets cut off from the world as the snow blocks all the roads allowing no one in or out.
Under these circumstances, you have the perfect ingredients for the unravelling of Jack’s mental health and his family’s safety as the unwelcome occupants of the hotel start to make their mark. The character of Danny adds another supernatural element. Danny has abilities that the hotel’s cook also shares (though not as strongly) and calls ‘the shining’. He can pick up other people’s thoughts and he has a friend called Tony who only he can see. Tony sometimes shows him the future. In a place like the Overlook Hotel, Danny is about to encounter all sorts of terrifying thoughts and creatures.
The Shining is a pretty long book but I read it quickly. I found the plot just kept making me want to turn the pages. I liked how the book was told from the points-of-view of the family and the cook Mr Halloran. It definitely gave me goosebumps reading this book. There was also a lot of tension as the book hurtled towards the ending. I thought there was an element of psychological thriller alongside some of the paranormal aspects.
After reading The Shining, I’m now reading its sequel Doctor Sleep which I’m really enjoying.
Verdict: A tense, scary, perfect horror thriller.