Book Review: The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining

The second my calendar is flipped to October, I recognize that the witching hour is upon us and do what I can to get my Halloween movie fix. I’ll be honest with you. Horror movies are not remotely close to my favorite thing in the world, but I seem to enjoy some (said loosely. Does Hocus Pocus count as a horror movie?) during the month of October. Unfortunately my movie time was limited this month but my plane travel time – work, not pleasure – was about to skyrocket, so October became a month for scary books, instead. I’m not upset about it. Though I do wonder why I chose to take up The Shining during a month where I would be spending some time in a hotel room. Alone. In two different cities I’d never visited before. With no family nearby. And no one to hear my screams. Or check to see if anyone was rotting in the bathtub.

I digress…

Embarrassingly cliche thematics aside, I’m happy with my choice to stick to a horror read this time around. While I hadn’t really thought of reading The Shining before, both my sister and my dad flew through the 2013 sequel, Doctor Sleep. That happens to be the book I was initially drawn to, but decided it might be best to start with The Shining and go from there. I also happen to be one of the very few people who hasn’t seen the movie adaption all the way through. It’s hard to go through the month of October each year without catching snippets or being bombarded by “Here’s Johnny!” references, but I was able to approach the book with a 90% clean slate. Yeah yeah, I’ll crawl back under the rock I call my home after I’m done with this post.

The Shining_2

Despite my lack of a connection to the movie adaptation, I found myself anticipating iconic scenes from the movie to appear in the book. In fact, I’m still waiting for said scenes. Prior to reading, I had heard Stephen King was not the biggest fan of the movie version. After finishing the book and say, one third of the movie, I can completely see why (and will avoid specifics for those who have seen the movie but still interested in reading).

I tend to be one of those people you most likely hate, who whine that the book was sooooo much better than the movie. And, I’m going to try my best to not be snobbish about it here but from what I’ve seen of the movie, I’m sticking to my gut on this one, though the reasoning might surprise you. Through the written word, King has the ability to add inner thoughts and large scale visuals that are difficult to translate to the screen. One of the best parts of a book is feeling like you’re inside the main character’s head. King accomplishes this throughout the novel, in nearly every chapter, with multiple characters. That’s an impressive accomplishment. Once you learn the inner thoughts, the premise becomes even creepier and the spell cast by the Overlook strengthens.

Typical to any and all things horror, there are moments in the book that rang a bit cheesy. Luckily, King had already established a connection to the inner thoughts of the characters, so it is easily forgiven. If you’re looking for a quick read with just the right amount of goosebump inducing moments, The Shining awaits.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’m currently making my way through Doctor Sleep.


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