The Shining by Stephen King

Updated: Jul 16, 2019

"Jack Torrance's new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he'll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels every more remote...and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old."


In his most well-known horror story, 'The Shining,' which is either a ghost story or the collapse of a man's mental state, Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic who just lost his job teaching at a school, gets hired to be the Winter caretaker of the infamous Overlook Hotel. In this book, the readers follow Jack into a nervous breakdown, as well as his possession by the ghosts of this hotel.


While the Torrance's seem like every other family - a small boy and moving to a new town - we find out that their son, Danny, has special abilities that help him to see things that may or may not happen in the future.


Soon after the family arrives to take over the hotel for the Winter, Danny meets a man named Hallorann - a chef at the hotel - who has the same abilities as him, which he calls 'Shine:' "What you got son, I call it shinin' on, the Bible calls it having visions, and there's scientists that call it precognition. I've read up on it, son. I've studied on it. They all mean seeing the future. Do you understand that?" Hallorann tells Danny.


Why does Danny, or anyone for that matter, have the Shine? King doesn't explain this in the book, it just seems to be something specific people are born with, even Danny's parents take him to a doctor before the snowfall hits to figure out what is going on,but even the doctor believes it's just a child's overactive imagination. Even so, Danny continues to have visions: one is of the room 217 in the Overlook, which even Hallorann told him to never go inside, and the other is of a creature-like man swinging a roque mallet, yelling about someone needing to take their medicine,"Come out! Come out, you little shit! Take your medicine!" We,also,meet his imaginary friend, Tony, who is the one whom continues to show Danny these visions over and over.


Unlike the movie, 'The Shining' book stands on it's own as an almost completely different story, even having Jack wielding a roque mallet and not an axe. Also the infamous scene of the Grady twins showing up in a hallway, asking Danny to play with them, never happened in the book; Hallorann also survives Jack's attack, Wendy is nearly beaten to-death by the roque mallet, and the hedge maze doesn't even exist! Instead, King wrote about topiary animals that came to life to kill you, "The rabbit was down on all fours, cropping grass. Its belly was against the ground. But not ten minutes ago it had been up on its hind legs, of course it had been, he had trimmed its ears...and its belly."


Jack begins to change when he finds a scrapbook in the basement that contains articles and such of things that happened at the Overlook. One such thing that sticks with Jack is about a Masked Ball that took place at the grand opening of the hotel. "Horace M. Derwent Requests The Pleasure of Your Company At a Masked Ball to Celebrate The Grand Opening of THE OVERLOOK HOTEL...Dinner Will Be Served At 8 P.M. Unmasking And Dancing At Midnight August 29,1945...RSVP"


Later on in the story, Jack, Wendy and Danny are awoken by the elevator going up and down by itself, but inside is a surprise,"Then she was up, her cheeks flushed, her forehead as pale and shining as a spirit lamp. 'What about this, Jack? Is this a short circuit?' She threw something and suddenly the hall was full of drifting confetti, red and white and blue and yellow. 'Is this?' A green party streamer, faded to a pale pastel color with age." Continuously, throughout the book,the past hotel guests make themselves known, either by showing up in rooms or leaving things for the family to find.


King shines (pun intended) with this book, he keeps things moving so that readers don't get bored. Known for his horror books, he doesn't disappoint in this one, which I personally think that this is his best work ever. He doesn't jump from scene to scene (like in many of his other books), he flawlessly keeps the timeline going even though he switches from character view points, between Jack, Danny, Wendy and Hallorann.


Although the film 'The Shining' is a classic in the horror movie genre, it is a huge step away from the book itself. "And the Red Death held sway over all." is a line that was never in the movie,but is quite frequent through the book. Even the most recognizable scene of "Here's Johnny!" is not in the book!


Also, Hallorann's character has a much bigger part in the story, the reader gets to see him living his Winter life in Florida, working as a chef in another hotel.. Hallorann even has a back story in the book that is wonderful to read about; we get to accompany him to a lawyer's office where he feels the need to get his Will made out for everything to be left to his sister when he is overcome with the feeling that his life may be about to end,"Hallorann had stepped in and told this McIver that he wanted to make a will,and could McIver help him out? Well, McIver asked,how soon do you want the document? Yesterday, said Hallorann, and threw his head back and laughed."


This 659- page book is well worth the read. You not only get a different take on 'The Shining' that is so well known,but you also get a different ending!'The Shining' will now always be a staple on my book shelf.


Even if you love the movie as much as I do (it is my favorite horror movie of all time), you will love the book just as much. King went above and beyond when he wrote 'The Shining.' Highly recommend!


- Hadley


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