Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe

The Shining

The Shining: Stephen King, August 30—September 10, 2015

My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊

TheShiningA recovering alcoholic is appointed winter caretaker of The Overlook hotel and moves his wife and son in for the winter. However there is an evil force inside the hotel, and Jack’s five-year-old son Danny has a psychic power that it really wants to use.

Jack Torrance is a classic anti-hero. A former drunk, he lost his job, beat his son and mistreated his wife before the novel even began. He has almost no redeeming features but is a tortured soul. He has hopes and dreams, and bitter regrets. He doesn’t mean to be a bad person, he just ends up behaving like a total jackass at every turn.

Jack and Wendy’s backstory is teased out over more than half the book, and he comes off as the least unlikeable. Wendy is a weak, snivelling whinger and Danny, cursed with the “gift” of ESP (or “the shining”), frets and worries so much it’s hard to maintain sympathy for him. But Jack, whose head we spend a lot of time inside, is just a flawed everyman. An everyman that you really want to believe when he says this is his turning point and he’ll finish his play.

The creepiness is amped up throughout the narrative which, for the most part, is centred around the family who become isolated after a snowstorm. Although the malevolent hotel has a lot to answer for, it’s the darkness inside ourselves that provides the true horror. The Overlook uses Jack to get to Danny because he can be manipulated. His own abusive father is they key to his character, and it’s a terrifying exploration of what we are really capable of.

The hotel is described with such a rich history it feels like a real place. It’s disturbingly easy to imagine being there, seeing things out of the corner of your eye. The tension is amped up consistently. The only real bug bear is King’s prevalent use of parenthesis: a new line, in brackets and italics, without any capitalisation or punctuation of any sort. It’s used for flashbacks, premonitions, general thoughts, asides and appears far too frequently to not be infuriating.

Rather than use people to explore horror, The Shining uses horror to explore human nature. It’s creepy, claustrophobic and very hard to put down.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on September 10, 2015 by in 4 star and tagged .

Author Cloud

@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare