- Paperback: 688 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (August 27, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345806786
- ISBN-13: 978-0345806789
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Customer Reviews:
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Shining Paperback – August 27, 2013
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“Scary! . . . Serves up horrors at a brisk, unflagging pace.” —The New York Times
“This chilling novel will haunt you, and make your blood run cold and your heart race with fear.” —Nashville Banner
“Guaranteed to frighten you into fits. . . . with a climax that is literally explosive.” —Cosmopolitan
“The most wonderfully gruesome man on the planet.” —USA Today
“An undisputed master of suspense and terror.” —The Washington Post
“[King] probably knows more about scary goings-on in confined, isolated places than anybody since Edgar Allan Poe.” —Entertainment Weekly
“He’s the author who can always make the improbable so scary you’ll feel compelled to check the locks on the front door.” —The Boston Globe
“Peerless imagination.” —The Observer (London)
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The characters in this book are just so complex. Each one of them feels real. One moment I am sympathetic with Jack a man who just can't seem to get a break. But the next moment I am scared of him and what he might do to his family. Wendy is also so much more complex. I found myself really interested in her and absolutely scared for her life.
Danny though is my favorite. He's such a bright and sweet boy and it was interesting to get into his head. I loved to read how conflicted he got between protecting his family but also not wanting to upset them. I also really love his interactions with Dick Hallorann who is also very interesting.
Overall this is an excellent creepy read.
Even so, it was gripping enough that I read it in 3 nights. And I'll probably reread it again in a year or so.
Apart from The Running Man, a quite different type of novel, this is actually the first book by Stephen King I've read. I do have a few more on the shelves and am really looking forward to them, not so much for the stories / plots but rather for the goosebumps and tension I experienced while reading The Shining.
I ought to mention that King's style here is dry and matter of fact, and the family members seem quite wooden initially. Over several chapters he does throw in a great deal of background history on the family and this helps flesh them out quite a bit, but they never became completely convincing to me. This and the somewhat formulaic plot based on a haunted hotel detracted somewhat from the overall experience, but once winter set in and the action began I easily understood why King is so celebrated.
There are so many subtle things in this book that build the anticipation and terror as it progresses. Several times I had to put it down for a day or two because I got a bit too freaked out by it. The imagery and description of the Overlook and characters as the story unfolds is intense and captivating. In particular, I was terrified by the scenes including the wasps, the hedge animals, and the use of the mallet. These are key differences between the book and the movie that I am shocked by, now that I've read the book. Those scenes were brilliantly written by King, and I actually am disappointed that they didn't make the movie version.
Great book with lots of very intelligently woven themes about family, devotion, addiction, and overcoming personal demons. I highly recommend reading this if you haven't done so already.
Top international reviews
There have been so many books that left me disappointed despite being hyped and loved. And only very few that did live upto my expectations. Clearly, THE SHINING falls in the latter category. I had never read a horror-thriller book. I was always curious about how a book had the capability of evoking creepy disturbing thoughts in your head and leave you scared. THE SHINING made me experience all that. And that's why I loved it so much.
Stephen Kings utterly fantastical supernatural novel introduces us, from page one, to one of his finest ever creations, the truly frightening Jack Torrence. On a par with the deranged nurse Annie Wilkes from Misery, Jack is a supremely complicated man who seems uncomfortable with the world around him, his high opinion of himself and his intelligent is at odds with his inability to recognise or even accept his own deep and ultimately fatal personal flaws. Jack, like al Psychopaths, sees the world in terms of himself, and sees his son and wife as merely extensions of him, they live in his world and are expected to follow the rules as he sees them. He doesn't outwardly hate them but he doesn't love or really care for them either, he just seems to accept them as a necessary inconvenience that he just has to put up with to appear normal. It's his well practised outward projection of ordinariness that sets him apart from your run of the mill homicidal killer, he's the kind of person you don't notice, the guy who mows his lawn and takes out the trash, the guy who takes his kid to the park, the guy who is always pleasant and says hello. However there is something old and ugly hiding in Jack Torrence, something from his past, something rotten, something extremely dangerous, something deadly waiting to emerge.
Although The Shining is at heart a variation on a “ghost story”, King's ability to present the reader with real and credible (if horrible) characters lifts this novel to a higher plane. Jack's tortured and often very unpleasant internal narrative peppers the text and even interrupts his own lines of dialogue and in doing so we see him in a much broader light. We see what he is saying and also know what he is really thinking in real time. We know he lies, we know he is weak and frustrated, we know he does not respect or love his wife and we know of his true feelings, those he keeps well hidden possible even from himself.
Some have said rather unfairly that it's not “very scary” or words to that effect. It is certainly true that some of the book is about Jacks early life and it does take some time to set the stage. However once set the terror builds as Jack becomes more unstable and unpredictable. The true horror of possible living with an undiagnosed and extremely dangerous psychopath who believes ghosts are communicating with him to kill his family becomes very real. As his and Danny's visions become more “real” the fight for survival intensifies as does the pace of the book. I found it very scary, not for the ghosts but Jack's inability to hold onto reality.
Whether the hotel really does have “demons” that can affect a weak and easily dominated mind or the “demons” are his own fully formed ready for use in the right circumstances is a debate for another time. King thought one way (the hotel was haunted) and that Jack was a victim. Kubrick the other (the hotel was just a hotel) and Jack was a Psychopath, however which ever way you side it's a grand ride finding out.
I have always felt that Kings earlier work (pre 1995) was his best. This his third novel is probably his second best novel after The Green Mile and that is saying something.
Danny Torrance is a young boy with psychic abilities, when his recovering alcoholic father gets a job as the winter caretaker of the remote Overlook Hotel Danny and his mother go with him. Danny's visions of horrible events that happened at the hotel in it's past start as they are being shown around and he knows that the Overlook hotel is a bad place to be.
As the winter snow comes in, cutting the family of from civilization, Danny's father's behaviour becomes more erratic and unpredictable and eventually dangerous for Danny and his mother.
With ghosts, visions and psychological horror, the Shining by Stephen King is a VERY good horror story, I would say one of his best, right up there with the likes of Salems Lot which is another SK novel that i recommend if you enjoy horror.
Stephen King has also written Doctor Sleep which is The Shining book two.
I give The Shining 5 well deserved stars.
Despite these shortcomings, Torrence starts out a decent family man. That is until the Overlook Hotel takes over his weak personality and plays on his fears and demons. He has taken a job as winter caretaker in the deserted hotel - deserted as it closes for winter due to being cut off by the snow.
Jack gradually succumbs to the evil influence of the Overlook which wants him to harm his wife and son. This he sets about in no uncertain terms.
The iconic memories of The Shining come from the film and are not present in the book. King gives us a straight forward mystery. Kubrick's acclaimed cinematic version takes the bare bones of the novel and gives us a multi layered mystery.
It's no secret that King didn't like the screen adaptation of his novel - at least in the beginning although he has mellowed towards it in recent years calling it a "deeply unsettling cinematic experience in it's own right." And in his book 'Danse Macabre' he cites it as a notable contribution to the horror genre and lists it as one of his favourites!
A very good read - but although I love this book I prefer the movie.
The characterisation in “The Shining” is brilliant. We see glimpses of Jack Torrance’s past and this builds a picture of this quite normal man who is struggling with Alcoholism and the memories of his violent father. I think this makes his descent into madness at the hands of The Overlook hotel all the more chilling. At the start of the book he is desperate to make a fresh start, get his play finished and keep away from alcohol. This is a stark contrast to the Jack Torrance we meet at the end of the book.
When we first meet Wendy Torrance she comes across as a fairly weak woman who has gone from being dominated by her Mother to being dominated by her husband. She loves her son desperately but still stays with Jack after he breaks Danny’s arm in an alcohol fuelled rage. By the end of the book she is ready to fight to keep her son safe, whatever the hotel throws at them.
I found Danny Torrance to be a really interesting character; as such I’m looking forward to starting “Doctor Sleep” to find out what has happened to him since “The Shining”. He is highly psychic and it seems that the psychic phenomena that had already been going on at The Overlook is sent into overdrive by Danny’s presence. At only 6 years old in “The Shining” it will be interesting to see how these events have shaped his adult life and how he has dealt with everything that happen, if at all. There is also the spectre of alcoholism and the fact that it is often a hereditary condition. Will Danny also be struggling with alcohol dependence like his Father and Grandfather before him?
I really enjoyed “The Shining” and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes the thriller/horror genre. I wouldn’t say it’s a straight out horror, there isn’t lots in the way of blood and gore, its more the sinister build up that make the book as creepy as it is.
I think everyone who has been alive for at least the last twenty, if not ten years, knows of Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of the novel, an adaptation in which Mr Kubrick took a lot of liberties, and ignored a lot of what Stephen King had written in his fantastic novel. I was one of the lucky people to have read the novel before I watched the film because the film is so different, there could be a lot of disappointment for reading the novel after watching the movie.
There have been many great haunted house/hotel novels in the past: Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" is one of the greats that comes to mind, but there is something different and more reality-based about "The Shining", and I think this comes from the brilliance King enthuses his three main characters with when he writes about them. Most haunted house stories have a company of about four different people, most of whom don't know each other, are innocent within their own lives, and have to face up to a fear that is supernatural. In "The Shining", the three main characters are a family, known as the Torrance's: Father (Jack), Mother (Wendy) and Son (Danny). Jack is an ex-alcoholic who gets a job as winter caretaker for the heavily pristine Overlook Hotel, one of the greatest American hotels in the last century. He will bring his family with him to stay over the winter months - they will be snowed in, they won't be able to get out without help from park rangers, if they are able to make it through the snow, and they are not alone.
The title of the novel comes from a gift that Danny has - he is susceptible to people's thoughts and emotions as well as to the past and future of his surroundings. He is able, through his gift, to sub-consciously awake the hotel's past horrors - those that have died or been murdered, that are now permanent residents of the hotel that want Danny's gifts for their own terrifying purposes and they don't care who they have to get through to get to Danny.
This would have been a very horrific process of story-writing had King just decided to use this as the basis for his novel, but this is Stephen King we are talking about and Stephen King is not a normal writer - he is a genius, up there in the Dickens class as a storyteller, as some critics have put it. Jack has an alcohol problem and a violent temper. He has already broken up his son's arm in one of his rages before the story has even begun, and the horrors of his alcoholic addiction play a large premise towards the horrors of the story and the way in which the Overlook uses him for their own ends. Not only this, but he has a history of watching his own father as an abuser, someone who took a cane to his wife and, in simple terms, smashed her up. It is these terrifying experiences that make this one of the greatest horror novels ever written, and in my own humble opinions, it ranks for me, as perhaps one of the greatest American novels of the post-war period.
This is the novel that made Stephen King a true star and set him on his way to being the most popular novelist of his generation. "Carrie" and "'Salem's Lot" had sold very well as paperbacks, but now King had a hardcover bestseller on his hands. The world was now his oyster, and as a writer, he could do anything he wanted.
I can still remember the first time I read "The Shining" and how much fun I had with it. It is a very deep novel, a novel written by someone who has now found his craft and truly understands it. He is not just telling a story that will scare his readers - he is approaching the method of this art with his own demons and his own thoughts and teachings. Stephen King was an alcoholic himself at this point, battling with his own fears, as a writer and as a father and family man. This comes through a lot in the novel. The character of Jack Torrance seems to be Stephen King himself, in a parallel universe, a Stephen King who had allowed his fears to get the better of him, to have never had a wife who had retrieved "Carrie" from the dustbin, urging him to complete it. King is not afraid to admit his own faults and fears, and I think that is another genius of his writing. A lot of authors would never admit to their demons and if they had written "The Shining", it would just have been another haunted hotel novel that might have passed through the boundaries of time and gone on to become just a good story. But King has made this into a masterpiece and it is a novel that can be read again and again, allowing the reader to discover something different each time they fly through the pages. Kubrick might have made a great movie, but he took out all that made this novel important, and I think King was right in his criticism of Kubrick's adaptation for all them years.
If you want to really understand "The Shining", don't see the movie first - read the novel and you will not need to worry, because your guide for this great journey will be the true genius master, Stephen King himself. For me, it is certainly one of my favourite novels that has ever been written, and in a hundred years when we are all dead (hopefully not haunting the Overlook Hotel), this book will still be read and still be thought of as not just a great horror story, but a great American classic!
It's not the same as the film which dumbed the characters down into caricatures.
Jack Torrance is a failed writer, husband, father, trying to recover from alcoholism. His wife Wendy is trying to believe in him and his desire to change. Danny their 5-year-old son has "the shining" - a psychic ability to sense things and read feelings and emotions, though he doesn't understand it
Jack takes on the job of winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel as a last-ditch attempt to finish writing a play and keep his family together. But the place has a malign power and gradually all his good intentions are overwhelmed and he degenerates into a dangerous maniac.
Danny's shining becomes more of an issue as the hotel's inmates try to scare him away. His mother realises that her husband is cracking up but cannot escape because the snow comes and blocks them in.
Such a well-written and atmospheric book. Do read it and forget Shelley Duvall's Wendy in the film. I'm looking forward to reading Dr Sleep
Then of course the horror kicks in. This isn't some cheap, easy "Someone/thing is out to get you" type of horror - it's deeply psychological and very unsettling. Without giving anything away, my favourite part was the bit with the elevator...
It's extremely well written too; there's a reason Stephen King is the top guy in the industry and has been for the past however many years. The combination of superb writing and gripping story made this my favourite novel of all time.
If you want to read this purely even to see the differences between this and the film which I now hate, go ahead! King himself stated in a very recent interview with the BBC that he hated the film because it was "cold" and "didn't invite the viewers inside". Kubrick also completely changed the story, but that's enough about the film for now...
As King said himself in that interview - "Love creates horror".
Reading Stephen King again after so long was like revisiting your old home town where you grew up – it seems so familiar and strangely comforting (although the content of the book may not make you feel comfortable!).
Because of the movie, I basically knew everything that was going to happen in the novel. But it still scared me, shocked me and freaked me out (as a good Stephen King novel ought to). I'm so glad I decided to go back and finally read this. Mr King sure knows how to write a good horror story.