The Shining

The Shining



The Pequod Review:

One of the few Stephen King novels based outside of New England, The Shining is a haunting and atmospheric thriller, and one of King’s best pure ghost stories. The book is the story of the Overlook Hotel, which sits high in the Colorado Rockies and is deeply haunted by supernatural forces. The hotel is a popular summer resort, but it closes down for the winter, when a caretaker is hired each year to oversee and maintain it. The Overlook's next target is this winter's caretaker family — Jack Torrence, and his wife Wendy and son Danny.

Because of the success of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film, our popular memory of The Shining is largely based on the movie version. But the book is very different from Kubrick’s film. In the movie, Jack Torrence is a more disturbed and less sympathetic figure, and much of the psychological suspense seems to originate in his head. In the book, Jack is a struggling everyman who, despite a drinking problem and a temper, is nonetheless trying to do the best for his family — until the hotel causes him to unravel. (In both versions, Jack's son Danny, who possesses a psychic ability to read minds and see the past, has a crucial but secondary role.) 

The Shining is one of Stephen King’s very best books, arguably the most frightening, and with some of his strongest and most complex characters. Highly recommended.