Monday, 5 December 2016

The Shining by Stephen King (The Shining, #1) - Book Review

5/5 Stars

Danny is a 'shiner', aglow with psychic voltage.

When his father becomes caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grow frighteningly out of control.

There is an evil force in the hotel

- and it too is beginning to shine...

Edition: Paperback
Pages: 416
Chapters: 58
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


The Shining is a horror classic. Is that stating the obvious? Yes. Is it redundant? No. It deserves to be repeated over and over, with emphatic excitement, because the spectacular supernatural story that this novel contains is a force to be reckoned with. Haunting horror surrounds and merges with captivating character progressions, ensuring that, by that final page, even the most critically minded will be unable to deny The Shining's revered status.

I just can't beat the book from my mind (not that I'm trying particularly hard; although, when it's time for sleep that might change). The depth of the novel's themes and its passionate dissection of the human psyche elevates everything past just simple horror. A lot of this is due to insane imagination, but the personal turmoils of the author are undeniably present and palpable. 

The Shining has a sliver of King's soul, and it shines with devastating delight.


Danny is only five years old but in the words of Mr Hallorann he is a 'shiner', aglow with psychic voltage. When his father becomes caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grow frighteningly out of control. Who is the woman in Room 217? And why do the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive? There is an evil force in the hotel - and it too is beginning to shine...

Plot - 5/5 Stars

Set in the Overlook Hotel, an extravagant vista nestled in the mountains of Colorado, The Shining drenches itself in realism right from the get-go. King has a way with tone and atmosphere that, no matter how supernatural the story gets, keeps the reader grounded and terrified. Caught up in the events of the plot you'd be forgiven for jumping at the slightest sound (and, yes, this feeling continues even when you set the novel down).

I love the way the terror builds, with little quirks and habits collecting to form a picture that, once you see its scope and ramifications, you realise time has run out and it's too bloody late.

But The Shining isn't exclusively horror. It's not even exclusively supernatural. Instead, King weaves a tight tale about many different themes and trials. We follow a family on the rocks, each of them fighting metaphoric demons along with the real ones: Isolation, alcoholism, love, hope, doubt, hate, and on and on it goes. Each trait this novel possesses is tuned to perfection, creating a kaleidoscope of colours that stuns you with their sharpness.

The plot at the core, however, stands as strong as the supports that surround it. Insightful questions are answered with genuine answers, and King sprinkles some breadcrumbs to make sure the reader is never far off from the loop.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

Normally I'm a reader who enjoys a faster pace, usually with the help of some mindless action, but The Shining offers a measured and contemplative experience. It has things it wants to say and scares it works the hell out of. But what I think bypasses my predilection for zoom, zoom, zoom, is the fascinating myriad of stories. This novel is never uneventful, and with King's mastery over every aspect of information in his worlds, nothing you're given ever feels like 'filler'.

Plus, when the oddities go from unnerving to terrifying, the slow, bubbling pace adds nerve-wracking tension with a gloved haymaker.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

Personalities, histories, motivations... Everything that goes into making a character is exceptional. King's ability to unfurl and study an individual's human nature with accuracy and passion is unparalleled. Infused with personal experiences of his own, The Shining comes alive.

Realistic family drama provides a sense of normalcy that is balanced with the supernatural hauntings, raising the games of both. King's cast is diverse and so well created that even the most despicable is hard to judge. The shades of grey enhance situations. Actions have consequences, nature vs nurture vs both is explored, and the sense of chaos is unstoppable as the characters all fight for control.

Writing - 5/5 Stars

Stephen King.

That's really all this section needs - the author's name. The Shining wouldn't have been able to cement itself in literature in the way it has without King's talent and tenacity. Everything I wrote above is testament to just how well he can spin a phrase and build a story. Scenes stick with you and experiences are heartfelt.

With so much going on within the story, The Shining is without a doubt an intense ride, but it's also one you can go back to. I sincerely plan on rereading the book again in the future and I'm positive there will be new aspects of it for me to find.

Overall - 5/5 Stars

I'm late to this party, I know, but better late than never. If you're like me and for some reason you haven't read this book, get going now! The Shining is the gold standard when it comes to supernatural horror, and its character studies are a phenomenal treat.

Next Instalment: Doctor Sleep

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