Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is most definitely a landmark of horror history. I’ve personally seen it several times and it’s still effectively atmospheric. However, Stephen King’s book, the source material of Kubrick’s film, has been sitting in my shelf, unread until now.
WHAT IS IT?
Written by Stephen King, The Shining is about a family of three that stay up in the mountains for the holiday while the patriarch works as the caretaker. Throughout their stay, mysterious forces work their way to tear the family apart.
First published in 1977, the novel has made a large impact within the horror genre. It has influenced numerous creators, including that of director Stanley Kubrick, who has adapted the book into film, which was released in 1980.
King’s novel has since been adapted into a miniseries in 1997, an opera in 2016, with a stage play and a spin-off series on the way.
WHAT DID I LIKE ABOUT THE BOOK?
Stephen King makes characters so well and this book is no different. Excessive in detail yet I wouldn’t want to trim any of it. Though not all of the character work really becomes relevant to the story, it helped me understand the characters’ motivations and why they do what they do, thus making it hard to see them as dumb for making unreasonable decisions.
I also like that the book isn’t afraid to be more absurd in its scares. Not only do the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel mess with the characters’ heads, certain objects also come to life, presenting a physical fear that didn’t always work but make for an entertaining read.
To me, the story seems so simple but King makes it work because of his characters. Aside from the supernatural goings-on at the Overlook, our characters have to battle with alcoholism, abusive parenting, and domestic violence. This brings me to my next point. The book’s greatest scare tactic is building up this trust and bond that this family has and breaking it down when a beloved family member — someone they trust — turns deadly and they have no outside forces to help them deal with this.
WHAT DIDN’T I LIKE ABOUT THE BOOK?
Stephen King may be a master of horror but he’s also a master of excessive detail at times. The Shining is a thick as hell book and some scenes where the characters wander around the hotel or flip through old archives can get tedious at times, which didn’t do it for me as I tried to binge-read the book. I believe the book works more if try not to read it in one sitting.
I’ve, ahem, slept on The Shining for far too long and I can safely say it was an enjoyable reading experience; an atmospheric psychological haunter that gets in your head. Is it a perfect book? Not really but I think you owe it to yourself as a fan of the genre to read at least one Stephen King book. As far as that goes, The Shining ain’t a bad place to start.
WHERE CAN I FIND IT?
I got my copy from Fully Booked, a local book store here in the Philippines but I’m pretty sure online, it’s available on Amazon, B&N, and wherever books are sold.
Dustin is a horror fan and sometimes short story writer who hails from the Philippines. He likes a lot of the horror genre but usually goes for slashers and arthouse/slowburn stuff. Currently, he’s trying to make up for lost time in the horror literature world by digesting as many horror books as he can.