The Shining was, and still is, my favorite Stephen King book. It is a tightly written, page-turner with surprisingly deep subtext. Additionally, the setting, which is so evocative of Colorado in the early 1980s, adds a familiar and creeping sense dread to the novel that keeps the reader engaged throughout the book.
The Shining follows the Jack, Wendy, and Danny Torrance as they struggle to move beyond their broken past by finding a second chance at the fabled Overlook Hotel deep in the isolated Colorado mountains.
Jack, an erstwhile writer, is hoping that the job will allow him to finish his play, keep him sober, and redeem him in the eyes of his family and former employers. Wendy, his wife, is hoping the new job will keep their family together. Danny, who is five and has an unusual talent, doesn’t want to stay at all. He knows the hotel is alive with unseen horrors and it wants them to stay–forever.
Worth the (re)Read?
Absolutely, this book is firing on all cylinders. The supernatural elements, Danny’s shining, and Jack’s possession still creep me out, but the frank description and commentary on alcoholism, privilege, and generational domestic violence took me by surprise. The demons and ghosts that haunt the Overlook are nothing on the guilt, anger, and remorse that haunt Jack Torrance. No other book would have me cheering for the demise of the hotel while fervently hoping for the redemption of the Torrance family.
Interestingly enough, King is putting out a sequel to The Shining next month. Doctor Sleep will follow an adult Danny Torrance as he struggles to protect a young girl with terrifying power not unlike Danny’s own. I am cautiously excited about it so expect to see a review sometime next month.
But, if sequels aren’t your thing, I will always suggest a re-watch of Stanely Kubrick’s The Shining. It is a well-constructed, visually stunning movie that is nothing like the book; which, to my mind, is actually a good thing. (Good film cannot simply regurgitate the same territory that good literature has already explored.)
And, if you like a good conspiracy theory, check out Room 237. This unusual feature length documentary attempt to unearth hidden meanings in The Shining using visual and contextual clues – sometimes with hilarious results.
From the Vault is an irregular feature here at Read More! that reconnects readers to older, recommended books that they might have missed.