I have been avoiding Stephen King’s The Shining for years. I knew the gist (a hotel, a kid, crazed murder, redrum spoken in a grating drone), mostly from peeks at the film, but I’d never read it nor seen the movie. I like Stephen King (it was his Dark Tower series that hooked me), but I am not actually that big a fan of that which scares. I have an overactive imagination and am susceptible to keeping myself up at night. Despite all that, the time I had come and so I hunkered down and prepared to be horrified.
The Shining tells the story of Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, and, most particularly, his exceptional and gifted son Danny. Jack is at the end of his rope, having truly messed things up royally for his family after attacking a student at the preparatory school he was teaching at in Vermont. A recovering alcoholic with a bitter temper, Jack hopes he can mend his past transgressions and begin anew with the one opportunity opened to him: as the winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel high in the mountains of Colorado. As the isolation of the winter and building snow progresses and mounts, the hotel’s sinister history becomes clearer and its hold on the family much more disturbing and malevolent.
The novel is not necessarily scary. I would argue it is more unsettling than it is terrifying. There are moments that are grotesque, violent, and disturbing, but in the context of the novel (and the how of the events) cause more chills than overwhelming, uncontrollable terror. Its presentation is fascinating because it ropes you into the mechanics of the supernatural part. I wanted to discover the how of the thing. More specifically, the novel captures you through Danny. I spent the last part of the novel rooting for him and wondering how it was all going to work out, if at all. Also, there’s Jack and his terrible weakness to watch unravel in painful slowness. Parts of the novel certainly got my heart racing and my blood pressure up, but my main concern throughout was what was going to happen to this family.
The book could be read just as a chilling horror tale (and I’m sure there are many people who just take it at face value), but I argue there are much more subtle nuances throughout if the reader is looking for them. It’s not just a one note scare. There are complex family dynamics focused on the troubles inflicted by a person dependent on alcohol and anger. Yes, at its heart it is a supernatural thriller, but the book goes beyond that in the way that few can accomplish, King namely among them.
I picked up the book because my sister gave me the sequel Doctor Sleep for Christmas. Now I can move onto that next. I’m also looking forward to seeing the movie, though I hear its much scarier than the book. Womp womp.
In other news, I am OLD. Well, not really. Well, not exactly. But I certainly don’t feel as young and carefree as I used to. On Sunday the 19th, I turned 23, an awkward and meandering age as I hear and so far have experienced. It’s strange because you are no longer a college student, but you’re not quite a full fledged adult. There are bills to pay and hours to work, but do I know what I’m doing? Certainly not. More reading. That I can guarantee.
I had a lovely day. Neil and I went to see American Hustle (which was AMAZING. Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams, man. SO GOOD. Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper, ALSO STUNNING). It was an excellent two hour romp. We also got lunch, did some shopping, had some coffee. I went out that night to Howl at the Moon, which I have decided is the best bar in the city of Boston. It was pretty low key, since it was a Sunday, but I’m definitely planning on going back eventually. Fun times were had by all!
Until next time. xx