Good evening and happy October! My apologies for being away from here, I had to socialise. Yes, a book owl like myself went outside and socialised with real people. Now I get to review one of my favourite books of all time which I finally read on audio and loved very much.
Jack Torrance needs a break. Recovering from alcoholism and the loss of his job as well as almost losing his wife, Jack is offered the position of winter caretaker of the grand Overlook Hotel. However Jack’s son Danny is a special child, Danny has ‘the shine’. The shine tells Danny things. And the shine has told Danny something bad is coming. Something big at the Overlook Hotel.
Another beloved Stephen King book that I first read at 16 and have loved ever since. This is my second time reading The Shining and I listened to it on audio. Scott Campbell is a great narrator who manages the cast characters perfectly and really maintains the suspense throughout the story.
This book is the perfect closed circle horror story and is definitely one of King’s best written works. The sheer isolation of the location is very overwhelming that really affected me as the reader. The hotel is very high up in the mountains and closes for the bitter winters so there is no getting out. Once the snow hits, no moving. We don’t get extreme snow in Ireland so this alone unnerves me a bit.
Jack Torrance is a fascinating protagonist, a very flawed character with some Stephen King tropes thrown in and that manages to be very unique. He struggles very heavily with his addiction that has in turn affected his family with which he is also struggling. This book deals heavily with domestic abuse and the effect it has on families so definitely steer clear of this if you are affected by any of that. Jack Torrance is a thinly veiled disguise for King himself, a writer struggling with a drinking problem and trying to care for his family is a common theme but Torrance is the best written ideal of this trope.
Danny Torrance is the true main character of this story. Danny is a hugely powerful child who utterly adores his father despite past incidents. The whole notion of ‘the shine’ is explained very well to readers through Danny’s experiences with visions, feelings and mild telepathy. It works really well for the reader to experience the way the shine differs between people and how it affects someone who has it through the eyes of a child since the reader is learning about it like someone who is growing up with something like this. I also really like Wendy Torrance and Dick Halloran. Wendy is a strong as nails woman who loves her husband but will burn the world down for her son if she needs to. Dick is another character with the shine who reassures Danny he is not truly alone.
And how could I not talk about the Overlook Hotel? The place is absolutely terrifying. One of my favourite horror tropes is ‘location as the antagonist’. The Overlook itself is unsettling for one reason only. Noone knows how it became like this. There are theories throughout the book as to what caused this abstract evil to take over the hotel but its never clarified. That is ultimately the most unsettling aspect of the supernatural forces in the story.
The various things the hotel does to terrorise the Torrances are truly sinister. I’m not going to spoil the actual incident for anyone since I think its the most terrifying moment in the book but there is a scene involving the elevator which operates on its own sometimes that literally had me pausing while listening to the book and looking behind me to be sure I was alone.
October is the perfect time of year to read this book and I obviously love this book very much but one thing has to be said. This book was published in 1977 and has a lot of the racist, homophobic language that was very common and “okay” in that time. This book didn’t bother me at 16 but now at 26 I can see parts of the book that are not so up to date.
If you love suspense, creepy locations, domestic thrillers and just scary as fuck stories then definitely try this. The physical and the audio book are both great. Rereading my favourites is always a fantastic experience that I recommend to others but this book holds up better again on reread. Definitely a good time of year to read a lot.