Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Shining

The Shining
By Stephen King
Pocket Books, 1977. 683 pgs. Fiction

Jack Torrance is reeling from a recent firing, and his last hope is working for the winter as the caretaker of the Overlook, a remote hotel in the Colorado mountains where he will be cut off from all contact through the snowy months.  He takes with him his wife, Wendy, and his five-year-old son Danny, who seems to have uncanny abilities to understand the thoughts of those around him, referred to as "the shining."  Unfortunately, the care-taking job doesn't seem to be the respite they were hoping it would be, as the family is shut in and Jack's mental stability seems to be unraveling.  Of course, it doesn't help that the Overlook itself seems to be alive and has a malicious intent upon the family.

I can definitely see why this is considered a classic of horror fiction.  More than just bumps in the night, the heart of this novel's terror lies in Jack's slow mental unraveling, making this more of a psychological horror than a physical one.  I listened to the audiobook, and in some ways that deflated the tension sometimes having things spoken aloud, and in other ways it brought other scenes more to life.  The characters are interesting and sympathetic which complicates the readers' feelings even further, and the plot is mesmerizing and horrifying. Recommended for those looking for something truly scary and who won't mind graphic violence or language.


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