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225 of 236 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remains one of King's most powerful, frightening novels
Twenty-seven years after its publication, The Shining remains a visceral, gripping read that showcases Stephen King's unfathomable powers to hypnotize and terrify readers, a power King had in abundance in the early stages of his career. Coming on the heels of Carrie and 'Salem's Lot, The Shining truly established King as a modern master of horror and an unequaled...
Published on October 29, 2004 by Daniel Jolley

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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Good
Warning: some spoilers ahead

I'm sure it's been said by countless other reviewers, but this book does in fact provide a far more nuanced and compelling portrait of the main character Jack Torrence than the famous and unforgettable 1980 Stanley Kubrick screen adapatation would suggest.

I like what King said in his own recent comments on the...
Published on June 27, 2006 by Justice


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225 of 236 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remains one of King's most powerful, frightening novels, October 29, 2004
Twenty-seven years after its publication, The Shining remains a visceral, gripping read that showcases Stephen King's unfathomable powers to hypnotize and terrify readers, a power King had in abundance in the early stages of his career. Coming on the heels of Carrie and 'Salem's Lot, The Shining truly established King as a modern master of horror and an unequaled purveyor of a literary mirror into pop culture. If you've only seen the original movie starring Jack Nicholson, you really owe it to yourself to read the novel; Stanley Kubrick made a fine and scary movie, but he did not capture the essence of King's story, and his dramatization followed a different path than what you find in the original vision brought to life through the words of King. The more recent miniseries was more faithful to the novel, but it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that a made-for-TV dramatization is limited in terms of what it can get away with in a number of important areas. Simply put, The Shining stands just behind Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House as one of the best "haunted house" novels ever written.

The plot should be quite familiar to one and all by this point. The Torrance family embarks on a months-long retreat into complete isolation when Jack Torrance signs on to be the winter custodian of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. Jack takes some personal demons with him to a hotel chock-full of malevolent, ghostly spirits; he is a recovering alcoholic who, in the last couple of years, lost his job and broke his little boy's arm in a state of drunken fury. He thinks the months alone with his wife and son will allow him to find peace - and to finally finish the play he has been working on. His long-suffering wife has some misgivings, but the only person really clued into the dreadful possibilities is his son Danny. Danny has "the shine," a gift which allows him to see and know things he cannot possibly know; it is a powerful gift which the Overlook (which really is an entity unto itself) jealously desires for itself.

As the days pass, the Overlook exerts more and more of an influence on Jack, exploiting his weaknesses, exacerbating his paranoia and persecution complex, and basically turning him into a murderous new tool at the hotel's disposal. Danny sees what is happening, although he cannot really understand much of it given his very young age. He can certainly understand the terror of the Overlook, however, as he sees images of the hotel's murderous past and very dark near future in a number of unsettling scenes interspersed throughout the novel. This is a harrowing tale of survival against incredible odds of a supernatural nature, and King brings every nuance of the story to vivid life, capturing perfectly the internalization and externalization of fear among exceedingly real, believable characters that the reader gets to know very well indeed. As has always been the case with Stephen King, it is his incomparable powers of characterization that make the supernatural elements of his story work so amazingly well. You can't help but be emotionally committed to these characters.

The Shining really isn't one of my all-time favorite Stephen King novels, but it is exceedingly well crafted and features some of the most harrowing scenes to be found in King's immense body of work. Even though I had read the novel before and was quite familiar with the story in both its literary and cinematic manifestations, I was completely caught up in the story as I re-read it - to the point that I found myself flipping the pages faster than I normally do for a novel completely new to me. When you talk about the seminal works of modern horror, you have to talk about The Shining - it's just that good a read.
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108 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of King's First 20 Books, January 8, 2003
By 
Stacey Cochran (Raleigh, NC, USA) - See all my reviews
Stephen King has been called a great many things. The Master of Horror Fiction. Fascinating. Frightening. Hypnotic. Demonic. Tremendous. Spellbinding. His own bio blurb refers to himself as the "world's best selling novelist." One critic has even gone so far as to speculate that Stephen King is our era's Charles Dickens. Anyone who has read King would probably agree he's a writer with a tremendous range, a genius-level vivid imagination, and an understanding of human emotions both simple and yet rarely matched.

The Shining is probably his best known novel and of the first twenty or so novels that he wrote, and it seems to me the one he wrote at his happiest. He wrote part of it at the Stanley Hotel near Estes Park, Colorado when he was young enough not to be a commodity and old enough to know what the hell he was doing. Compared to The Dead Zone, Cujo, Pet Semetary, Misery it just seems like a book he enjoyed writing more than any of the other early works. The irony is that The Shining has become synonomous with horror fiction.

And that's the way "The Shining" works on you. Jack Torrance is a flawed man with a drinking problem, a violent temper, but a sense of humor and a genuine love for his wife and child. He's a guy we want to root for! And that's why his descent into madness is so powerful. (and so chilling) To some degree, we all can relate to him.

Room 217. The Overlook. Grady. The hedge animals. The isolation. And the shining. All of these devices work so well together in the novel that it's hard not to picture Stephen King writing this thing at points -- a maniacal captain aboard a hotel trip into hell. The guy just gets a kick out'a writing and as simple as that sounds it's actually kind of rare in this world.

Enough can't be said of the creative power King exhibits in The Shining. I'm sure scholars have already begun studying the "role of Wendy" as a modern woman and the "psychological trauma of Danny" etc. etc., and scholarly work on "The Shining" will probably continue long after we've all kicked off this earth. That's the world we live in.

The novel is not without its flaws. At times, Danny thinks more like a thirty-year-old man writing as a five-year-old boy than a de facto five-year-old boy. At times, The Shining is melodramatic. The character Wendy might have been a more fully realized character. But for a "flawed" novel, it is -- to me -- the most thoroughly READable flawed novel I've ever read.

I highly recommend "The Shining" to damn near anyone who enjoys reading and, of course, I hope this review is helpful to you.

Thanks so much.

Stacey Cochran
Author of CLAWS available for 80 cents
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121 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They're just scary pictures in a book, July 12, 2000
By 
Aaron Cassidy (San Antonio, Texas) - See all my reviews
I saw the movie first, the Kubrick film with Jack Nicholson, and I thought that one was spectacular. But I am very serious when I say that the book is even better. Having read the original, terrying words straight from the pen of Stephen King, it almost makes me mad that Kubrick treated the characters so hollowly in his movie. In the movie, Jack Torrance is a man insane. In the book, Jack Torrance is a man fighting against the insanity. Wow! The characters are so real and handled so carefully, that being trapped inside the Overlook is no longer just a freaky experience. You run along with them, filled with dread, from all the horrible personifications of evil inside the hotel's awful walls. There were several times where I actually dropped the book and was too scared to pick it back up. Intellectually, you know it's not real. It's just a bunch of letters and words grouped together on pages. Still, whenever I go into the bathroom late at night, I have to pull back the shower curtain just to make sure.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, June 27, 2006
Warning: some spoilers ahead

I'm sure it's been said by countless other reviewers, but this book does in fact provide a far more nuanced and compelling portrait of the main character Jack Torrence than the famous and unforgettable 1980 Stanley Kubrick screen adapatation would suggest.

I like what King said in his own recent comments on the book-what made the book truly interesting was the idea that Torrence goes insane from a combination of factors-not just a haunted hotel but his own inner demons. That is suggested in the movie, but my impression is that in the movie Nicholson plays Torrence as someone already on the edge and there is no implication that he had deep love for his family, also no mention of his own abuse at his father's hands. It's hard to feel that he suddenly went from loving Shelley Duvall to hating her-he seems to have hatred toward her in the beginning of the movie. The movie works, of course, and has become so iconic it is hard to read this book without thinking of it, but it is very different from the book, enough so to be someone else's story.

This is a major problem with the movie and what makes the book so much more effective, moving, and tragic-in the book Torrence truly loves his wife and son and that makes his descent into madness more frightening and depressing.

This is really King's gift, to tie horror to recognizable reality and family life, to express some of our own deepest fears through terrifying metaphors, and he does it very well here. It's also, like most of his books, very exciting and a good page turner.

I especially appreciated his character Dick, the African American cook, for some reason in the movie this character was far less important or appealing. In the book he has real warmth, compassion, intelligence, and a sense of humor-and he doesn't die, unlike in the movie (I wanted to point that out, that's why I warned of spoilers). I think that's important-he's a survivor, like Danny.

His story makes the entire novel more interesting and I'm not sure why they made him sort of an idiot in the movie although I could speculate. I'm sure this isn't true of the 1997 Stephen Weber/Rebecca DeMornay version, since it is said to be closer to King's original vision, but I have yet to see that. Another positive point of the book is that they give more background to the ghosts, whereas in the Kubrick movie they just show up (e.g., naked elderly woman in tub). It's scarier if we know their stories, and King tells us them.

It was a good read, but if I had some criticism it would be that it dragged on at times and sometimes got too verbose. King is a very talented writer and very interesting to read but he does tend to veer off into certain overly verbose passages that make my eyes glaze over. But it's a 600+ page book, and about 400 pages are great, so who are we to complain? Definitely worth the read even if you've seen the movie, is the point.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect blend of subtle horror and human drama, February 11, 2000
If you need blood and guts every few pages to stay interested in a book, you will be dissapointed. If your definition of drama is the murderous villains lengthy monologue before his final, grisly defeat, you will be dissapointed. If you're looking for a clone of the movie in book form, you will be /very/ dissapointed.
If, however, you appreciate one of those rare novels that leads you into the story step by step, immersing you with effortless grace into the world in which it occurs, a world that is, on the surface, plain and even non-descript yet brimming just beneath with murky, brooding awareness, then this one might be for you. If you appreciate full and starkly realistic characters painted in bold and brilliant strokes of emotion and personality, you may want to have a look. Finally, if you can accept Steven King as something more than "The Horrormeister", and instead as a natural story-teller who is as capable of capturing the subtles and nuances of terror as the hack and slash aspects, who can blend it perfectly into a familiar yet hauntingly awry world of ghosts darkness and ordinary people struggling against not only such mundane horrors as abuse and acoholism but horrors of a decidedly more supernatural nature, then you might be ready for this book.
I was captivated by the plight of Danny, a very unique young boy, struggling against unimaginable forces out of pure, unconditional love for his father. Likewise, Jack Torrence is not merely the bloodlusting maniac of the movie, but a man who is hounded by his alcoholism, all the way into the heart of the Colorado Rockies where he attempts to come to terms with his personal ghosts and heal the rift that is threatening to pull his family apart. Despite his best efforts, however, the sinister awareness that has infested the Overlook, an awareness birthed by years of murder and tragedy, slowly twists him to it's evil ends in a heart-breaking struggle of wills.
This book is full of disturbingly memorable imagery, moments of slow and creeping terror that will keep you turning pages deep into the night. The ending is a satisfying as it is tragic, bringing the grisly drama to a gut-wrenching climax and exorcising the tortured prisoners of the Overlook in a curtain of purifying flame.
As King books go, this is one of his finest. As far as any book goes, this is one of the scariest I've ever read.
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117 of 145 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King's masterpiece -- and one of my favorite books, July 5, 2000
By 
John Ratliff (Santa Clara, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I first read this book in 1980, at the recommendation of a coworker. I'd stayed away from Stephen King ... too popular for my advanced tastes. Anyway, I decided to take a look at the book about 10 PM (on a work night). Finished it about 7 AM the next morning. No book has ever taken over my imagination like this, before or since.
Since then, I've read all of King's work, and consider him the contemporary Dickens. But having just reread the Shining for, perhaps, the fourth time, it remains my favorite, and a modern masterpiece, in my opinion.
But I recognize this is essentially personal. I've not identified with any other character is literature as I do with Jack Torrance. I'm now more than ten years into sobriety and recovery, and I've often recommended this book to men that I sponsor. The depiction of the alcoholic personality, the combination of fear and resentment and self-pity, at war with Jack's very real love for his family and desire for goodness, is expressed in a way that makes it clear that King is writing of something he knows all too well on a personal level. Jack Torrance is one of literature's great tragic figures. I can only say, "There but for the grace of God go I."
[By the way, this is why I can't abide by Kubrick's interpretation. There's no tragedy or complexity in Nickleson's portrayal of Torrance. Kubrick's detachment from the human delemma ultimately doesn't work for me.]
I do believe that there is a coherent force/power of evil/darkness in the world, though it is not as powerful that the force/power of good/light. But I think one of King's most basic points (in all his work) is that we ignore the power of darkness at our own risk, that this is one of the real problems in the contemporary Age of Therapy. Central to the Shining is the way the force of the evil in the Hotel is able to utilize Jack's weaknesses ultimately to turn him to its purposes--to destroy what he love the most. I find this very, very realistic (viewing the supernatural stuff as kind of window dressing).
Having reached out for help in a way that the Torrance character couldn't, I'm now blessed with a life happier than I could imagine. But this book now reminds me of how much Divine Grace is involved for anyone blessed with the ability to build healthy loving relationships with those around him/her, especially family members, one day at a time.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Victims of our own minds, April 14, 2005
Stephen King's The Shining is brilliant for both its sheer terror and its utter reality. The Shining is not merely a ghost story, or a haunted house story. It is a story about people, a family. The Torrance family is masterfully portrayed; Jack, Wendy, and Danny all come across as stunningly human and real. We feel the pain of Wendy's hopeless love for her husband, we agonize with Jack as he is plagued by demons from his past and his own psychological instability, and Danny is a lovable-yet frighteningly mature-child.

It is this truly human aspect that lends The Shining its power. Jack is not the mindless killer that populates most pulp slasher movies. He is a real person, unstable and tormented. In the end, even the reader begins to wonder how much of Jack's madness is ghosts and how much is his own terrifying human flaws. King has created a brilliant villain in Jack, not because he is so inescapably evil, but because he is so troublingly real. Wendy and Danny are wonderful, as well, but I think The Shining is really Jack's story. And a troubling one it is.

The Shining stands to date as one of my favorite horror novels. King's horror is both real and imagined, and all too often his ghosts and monsters are products of his character's minds. You will lose yourself in the Torrance family's ghoulish story, and your heart will pound with fear. But you might also cry. You might also laugh, and feel real joy with the characters. Because The Shining is not just horror, it is a grandly imagined story of incredible ambition and capability.

It will remain in your mind for a long time. If not because of its paralyzing horror, then because of its deeply human messages and impact.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Veeeery shaky, July 11, 1998
By 
J R Zullo (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
Untill this book I had never been afraid of what I read. But Stephen King made it. "The shining" is thrilling since the beginning to the very last page. It's the story of an ex-teacher thrown out of his job for beating up a student. But the life of Jack Torrance is a complete mess. Not only he's unemployed, he's also a drunk. And in between he's got to take care of his wife and his enigmatic son, Danny. Ah, almost forgot: he has a dream of writing this masterpiece script, a book that will reach the top of the bestselling list. How he can do all this? His companion in booze and master offers him a job as a caretaker of a famous hotel in Colorado during the winter season. The Overlook Hotel is famous not only because of its great view of the country, but for his shaky story. Built early in the century, it has passed through various owners, all faded with bankruptcy, Mafia murders and scandals. The present time of the story is the first year in many that the account books aren't closed in read ink. And Jake has to keep the integrity of the place during the long winter. It's the oportunity he asked for. Now he's got time for his family and his script. But... His son Danny has some special gifts, discovered when he arrives at the Overlook and meets the old black cooker and is told that he has "The shining". A power to view what other people can't normally see. That usually is something very nice, if you know how to use it in your favor. But that's something hard for a five-year old. And when the powerful forces that hide in the shadows of the Overlook decide to play with your gift, the long and easy winter may turn into a white-snow nightmare. Stephen King was able to create some very complex characters. Jake is a booze addict with a very hard past relationship with his folks, and his tendence is to loose it with his family. His behavior gets worse when he discovers the history of the Hotel in some newspapers at the basement, and what happened to the last winter caretaker. ! Danny is the central point of the plot. The Overlook uses him to "comunnicate" with the Torrance family, using his shine against him. Danny can see with his eyes all the terrible things that took place in the hotel. Wendy is the powerless wife, sees his husband loose his mind, take it over her son, and has her hands stoped with fear. Her construction is also very complex, even if it's hard to see. She has ger own family problems and loves her husband too much to do something against him. But when it comes to Danny... She transforms into the main character and her actions give road to the continuity of the story. But the most vivid and terrible part of the book is played by the Hotel Overlook... HIMself! Yes, I think that we can make it into a person, for he thinks, decides what to do, has a past background, everything that a real person would have. Because, in fact, he's the personality and the will of Stephen King. He overlooks his entire work, his imaginary Boulder, his characters and his plots. Only a writer like him could imagine the scenes with the grass animals. "The shining" is a unique piece of writing. Among King's works, it's only compared with the grandeur of "The stand".
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Redrum and ha loo sin nations in the ultimate mountain resort, June 10, 2008
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After reviewing a nice little Swiss thriller set in a Swiss mountain resort (Deal with the Devil), I thought I might visit the mother of all mountain resort horror stories, and pay a tribute to the king of popular literature. The man knows his craft. I have not read much by him, previously only Carrie, which is a small first novel, but a good basis for a strong movie, and Lisa's Story, at the time his latest publication, which I liked a lot, but which disappointed the fan club.
My main encounters with SK happen through the many movies made after his many stories. The Shining was one of the best of those movies, though it appears from SK's introduction to this 2001 reprint that he had some reservations about Kubrick's version. I ought to watch it again. I have a faint recollection that I found Jack Nicholson's acting overdone, long time ago.
The novel is a marvel of efficient storytelling. SK says it was his 'crossroad' novel. At that time, i.e. the early 70s, he decided to branch out from the pure horror approach and weave in a 'real' theme, which is the story of a troubled man and his struggles against his worldly demons: alcohol and violence. The hero Jack, best known with Nicholson's face, has a tendency to 'lose his temper'. In the process he loses his teaching job and his home and nearly loses his family. The road downhill leads up to a Colorado mountain, where he gets hired as a winter caretaker in a monster of a hotel, the Outlook. SK prepares us for all kinds of horrors: ghosts of dead hotel guests, a malfunctioning and possibly dangerous heating and plumbing system, the prospects of being snowed in for a long time, a predecessor who couldn't take it and killed his wife and daughters, a little son with supernatural abilities who can read his father's mind and can see the word 'suicide' there, which he does not understand ... Enough for today. Go and read it, if only in the interest of a balanced diet.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read the book, get scared, and throw it in the freezer!, January 3, 2004
I read The Shining last year after being sick of hearing how great it was. (Hey! It's just a book!) The last straw was when I saw a Friends episode in which Rachel finds a copy of The Shining in Joey's freezer because he was reading it and got scared. And he says that The Shining is the best book there is. Well I bought it and read it. I found out it really is THAT great! It'll have you looking over your shoulder for a while. Only Stephen King can make you scared of a stupid bathtub. *****
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The Shining
The Shining by Stephen King (Paperback - July 1, 1982)
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