Ahh Stephen King. I’ve mentioned before that I was a latecomer to the fantastic writings of this wonderful man but I’m doing my best to make up for it. Of course one of the books from King’s back catalogue that I was keenest to read was…The Shining. I watched the Stanley Kubrick film many years ago and if I’m honest I didn’t love it as much as I expected (apart from Jack Nicholson who is amazing) but I was keen to see what the book was like. I found a copy in my local charity shop but I had a lot to get through before I could let myself indulge.
Boy was it worth the wait.
Stephen King has an incredible gift in that he creates stories that keep you reading even when you’re not actually interested in the story. Before The Shining I also read Lisey’s Story and Dreamcatcher neither of which particularly appealed to me – too much gore in Lisey’s Story and a load of extraterrestrials in Dreamcatcher – but I couldn’t put either of them down.
The Shining, however, was different. From the very first page I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to start teasing out the mysteries that were central to the book: who is Tony? What’s in room 217? And what is redrum (alright I might have already known the answer to that one but I still wanted to see how it was revealed!)?
But first things first, and in case you’re not familiar with the story of The Shining here’s a brief summary. Down on his luck Jack Torrance is forced to take a winter position as caretaker of The Overlook Hotel up in the Colorado Rockies. Cut off from the world by the deepening snow, the hotel starts to come to life and works on the fears and vivid imaginations of it’s winter visitors.Jack, his wife Wendy and their young son Danny become increasingly disturbed by the happenings around them and as each of them attempt to deal with the hotel’s darker side in their own way they struggle to stay together. Much of the book centres on Danny’s’s uncanny ability, or ‘Shining’, which allows him to tap into the heart of the hotel and see things that others can barely even imagine but what effect does this have on the Overlook? And will it help or hinder his family in their battle for survival? Only time will tell.
Like I say it didn’t take long for me to fall for this book, King’s writing was as perfect as ever and beyond that, Jack and Danny were both fantastic characters who I was firmly behind from the very beginning. The glimpses we see of their past and the fights that Jack had already survived only made me love them more and cross my fingers even harder for their continued survival. But lets be honest, this is a Stephen King novel so it was never going to be an easy ride.
The plot was a slow burner but burn it did and the little hints dropped along the way built to a flaming crescendo with sparks flying left, right and centre. I’m going to stop with the fire metaphor now but rest assured the emotions it stirred in me smouldered for a good while afterwards.
I’ve tried but I genuinely can’t think of a downside to this book, I can see how it might be too slow for some people but I loved the way it gradually unfolded , mirroring the steady unravelling of Jack’s mind. A slow burning plot with lots of character development and revelations a-plenty is exactly what I love in a book and The Shining has it all. It’s another A* offering from Stephen King and a perfect example of why so many people are in love with this man’s writing. I cannot wait to get my hands on Doctor Sleep!