The Overlook Hotel holds a world of promise for the Torrance family. It’s their chance to recover from old wounds and repair the cracks forming amidst them. But 5-year-old Danny is certain that the hotel will not let his father and mother salvage their marriage.
In fact, the hotel and its occupants seem to have begun a nefarious plot to make the Torrance family a part of them forever. The Shining is a novel far removed from the realms of ordinary horror. It is an appalling read about the fragility of human resolve and the evil in the world that awaits to pounce on it.
This was my first Stephen King read. And so, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The start of the novel somehow reminded me of how westerns are set. Something in the quality of the narrative lent that tone to the story.
As I kept reading, it felt like the plot wasn’t progressing. The author elaborates on even the minutest of details, making chapters that could’ve been wrapped up in 3 pages double in length. And so, I kept wondering if the book was going to live up to its hype or not. Up until 150 pages or so, it did not seem like a horror book in the true sense of the word.
What I soon realized was that the book heavily emphasizes characters, more so than the plot itself. King ensures that the reader has a substantial understanding of Jack, Wendy, and Danny before proceeding to reveal his masterful ability to conjure the eeriness.
Jack’s character depicts a duality in terms of his control over his temper and alcoholism. While a lot of his childhood trauma manifests in the way he behaves towards others, there’s also a clear demarcation of the arrogance and ego that dominates his personality. Most of the time, I just wished that Danny didn’t have to bear the brunt of possessing the Shine (psychic abilities), which makes him privy to the thoughts of others. And this very reason leads him to think far more maturely than any 5-year-old would.
Post the 200-page mark, events pick up pace, and you get to see the Overlook Hotel unfurl its demonic wings in all directions. With the ghosts of its past lurking in every room and corridor, I felt major anxiety for poor Danny, who’d find himself face to face with the strange occurrences.
Stephen King perfectly captures the gradual disintegration of Jack’s sanity over the course of the book. And it’s written in such a persuasive manner, that you get sucked into the narrative, feeling mind-boggled at what transpires.
Two of my favourite aspects of the book are how the author brings the Overlook Hotel to life and how effortlessly binds the supernatural with the psychological. There are a couple of scenes in the book that spooked me sufficiently and restored my faith in this book’s capacity to be horrifying.
I now know why people marvel over King’s writing. The Shining has definitely made its way to my Favourite Reads of 2021 list, and I’ll be picking up Doctor Sleep soon!