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The Shining

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715,564 (50%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 35,989 reviews
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,309 reviews120k followers
October 31, 2022
If you had not read The Shining already, the 2013 publication of Doctor Sleep, the sequel, presented an opportunity to revisit one of the best ghost stories of our time, a perfect justification for stepping through those bat-wing doors for the first time.

1st Edition cover – Published January 28, 1977 – 447 pps

It has been a lifetime since I read The Shining for the first time, over thirty years ago. I enjoyed it then for its effectiveness in telling a scary, no, a very scary story. Reading it now is colored, as is all of life, by our accumulation (or lack of accumulation) of experience. We see, or appreciate colors, textures, shapes, structures, and feelings with more experienced, educated eyes. We have seen, or are at least aware of real world things that are scarier than any fictional spectres. So, what does it look like through old, cloudy lenses?

It remains a very scary story. The things that stand out for me now are not so much the deader rising up out of a bathtub to pursue a curious child, although that is still pretty creepy, or the mobile topiary, which still works pretty well at making the hair on one’s neck and arms stand at attention. But King was using the haunted house trope to look at more personal demons. And those shine through more clearly now.

From Allyn Scura’s blog

He had some drinking issues at the time he wrote the book, when he was 30, and concern about that is major here. Jack Torrance is an alcoholic, no question. He also has issues with anger management, not that the little shit he clocks while teaching at a New England prep school didn’t have it coming. He did. But one cannot do that to a student, however deserving, and expect to remain employed for long. His little boy, however, most certainly did not deserve a broken arm. Jack is very remorseful, and wants to make things right. He manages to get a gig taking care of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado over the winter. It will offer him a chance to get something right after a string of getting things wrong, offer a chance to save his marriage, and offer an opportunity to work on his unfinished play. Risky? Sure. But a gamble worth taking. And his wife, Wendy, agrees, despite having serious misgivings. There are no attractive alternatives.

Of course, we all know that the Overlook is not your typical residence. Odd things happen, sounds are heard, thoughts from somewhere outside find their way into your mind. Jack is targeted, and boy is he vulnerable.

But five-year-old Danny is the real key here. He is the proud possessor of an unusual talent, the shining of the book’s title. Danny can not only do a bit of mind-reading, he can also see things that other people cannot. And for a little guy he has a huge talent. He also has an invisible friend named Tony with whom only he can communicate.

It is difficult to think about the book without finding our mental screens flickering with the images of Jack Nicholson in full cartoonish psycho rage, the very effective sound of a Big Wheel followed by a steadicam coursing through the long halls of the hotel, and the best casting decision ever in choosing Scatman Crothers to play Dick Halloran. By the way, the hotel is based on a real-world place, the Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, Colorado. And the Overlook’s spooky room 217 was inspired by the supposedly haunted room 217 at the Stanley.

This image is from the hotel’s site – they clearly embrace the spectral connection

The room number was changed in the film to 237, at the request of the Timberline hotel, which was used for exterior shots. There is so much that differentiates Kubrick’s film from the book that they are almost entirely different entities. The differences do require a bit of attention here. First, and foremost, the book of The Shining is about the disintegration of a family due to alcoholism and anger issues. How a child survives in a troubled family is key. The film is pretty much pure spook house, well-done spook house, but solely spook house, nonetheless, IMHO. There is considerable back-story to Jack and Wendy that gets no screen time. You have to read the book to get that. Jack is a victim, as much as Wendy and Danny. You would never get that from the slobbering Jack of the film. The maze in the book was pretty cool, right? I liked it too, but it does not exist in the book. I believe it was put in to replace the talented topiary, which is the definition of a bad trade. There is significant violence in the book that never made its way into Kubrick’s film, but which very much raises a specter of domestic violence that is terrorizing real people living in real horror stories. There are a few lesser elements. Jack wielded a roque mallet, not an axe. Danny is not interrupted in his travels through the corridors by Arbus-like twin sisters. And the sisters in question are not even twins. There are plenty more, but you get the idea. An interesting film, for sure, but not really the most faithful

interpretation of the book. King saw that a film that more closely reflected what he had written reached TV screens in 1997, with a six-hour mini-series version.

Irrelevancies of a personal nature
The opening shot was filmed on the Going–to-the-Sun Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park in Montana. I have had the pleasure (7 times in one visit) and recommend the drive wholeheartedly. It is a pretty narrow road though, so you will have to drive carefully. Bring along the appropriate musical media for the best effect, Wendy Carlos’s Rocky Mountain, and dress warmly. It was below freezing when I reached the top of the road, in August. Some exteriors for Kubrick’s film were shot at the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. I visited but did not stay there back in 2008. Sadly I do not have any decent personal photos from the place. I can report, though, on a bit

This shot was found on Wikimedia

of kitsch. There is a place in the hotel where an ax is lodged in a block of wood, with HEEEEERE’s JOHNNY on the ax, a tourist photo-op. And yes, I did. Sadly, or luckily, the shot did not come out well, so you will be spared.

Back to the book, Danny’s talent is a two-edged sword. He is afflicted with seeing more than anyone his age should have to see, but on the other hand, he has a tool he can use to try to save them all. Whether he can or not is a core tension element here.

King is fond of placing his stories in literary context. He peppers the text with references to various relevant books and authors. I expect these are meant to let us know his influences. Horace Walpole, author of The Castle of Otranto, a Gothic classic, is mentioned, as is Shirley Jackson, of Hill House fame. King had used a quote from this book in Salem’s Lot. A family saga rich with death and destruction, Cashelmara is mentioned as are some more contemporary items, like The Walton Family, the idealized antithesis to the Torrance Family, Where the Wild Things Are and novelist Frank Norris. The primary literary reference here is Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, which is cited many times. There had been a costume ball back in hotel’s history and it is the impending climax of that party, the unmasking, that looms here. And toss in nods to Treasure Island and Bluebeard for good measure.

King often includes writers in his work, avatars for himself.
I write about writers because I know the territory. Also, you know it's a great job for a protagonist in a book. Without having to hold down a steady job, writers can have all sorts of adventures. Also, if they disappear, it's a long time before they are missed. Heh-heh-heh. – from an AOL interview
Jack Torrance is a writer as well as a teacher. The play that Jack is writing undergoes a transformation that mirrors Jack’s own. In fact, there is a fair bit or mirroring going on here. Jack’s affection for his father as a kid was as strong as Danny's is for him. His father was an abusive alcoholic. While Jack is not (yet) the monster his father was, he is also an alcoholic with abusive tendencies.
I never had a father in the house. My mother raised my brother and I alone. I wasn’t using my own history, but I did tap into some of the anger you sometimes feel to the kids, where you say to yourself: I have really got to hold on to this because I’m the big person here, I’m the adult. One reason I wanted to use booze in the book is that booze has a tendency to fray that leash you have on your temper…For a lot of kids, Dad is the scary guy. It’s that whole thing where your mother says, ‘You just wait until your father comes home!” In The Shining, these people were snowbound in a hotel and Dad is always home! And Dad is fighting this thing with the bottle and he’s got a short temper anyway. I was kind of feeling my own way in that because I was a father of small children. And one of the things that shocked me about fatherhood was it was possible to get angry at your kids. (from the EW interview cited in Extra Stuff)
He’s right. I have had the pleasure and I know. Wendy gets some attention as well, as we learn a bit about her mother, and see Wendy’s fear that she has inherited elements of her mother’s awfulness.

Not everything shines here. There are times when five-year-old Danny seems much older than his tender years, even given his extraordinary circumstances. It struck me as surprising that there is no mention of anyone suggesting that maybe Jack might attend an AA meeting. But these are like single dead pixels on a large screen.

If you want to read horror tales that are straight up scare’ems, there are plenty in the world. But if you appreciate horror that offers underlying emotional content, and I know you do, my special gift tells me that The Shining is a brilliant example of how a master illuminates the darkness.

This review, with images intact, has also been posted on my blog

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Definitely check out the Wiki for this book – nifty info on the King Family’s stay at the Stanley, and yes, there was a Grady at the Stanley.

I also recommend checking out SK’s site if you want to learn more about him

An interview with King in Entertainment Weekly

BTW, here is a shot of the model snowmobile that Dick Halloran drives back to the Overlook

A few other SK's we have reviewed
Under the Dome
Duma Key
Lisey's Story
Doctor Sleep
Mr. Mercedes
Just After Sunset
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,607 reviews10.7k followers
September 24, 2023
This was my 4th-time reading The Shining.

You read that correctly, the 4th-time. I'm aware rereading isn't for everyone, but I am a huge supporter and fan of rereading, especially tried and true favorites.

I know a lot of people feel it is a waste of time, but for me, when a story is special enough to you, each time with it is like a whole new experience. That's exactly how I feel every time I open the pages of this book.

Additionally, I feel like where I am at in my life plays a huge role in what I take out of a reading experience.

For example, the first time I read this, I was in high school. You better believe that 14-year old Meg walked away from this having picked up on different things than 44-year old Meg does, reading it now.

My experiences have shown me that rereading allows me to focus on different areas of any particular story. This time around, for me, I felt myself really drawn to the private thoughts and emotions of this cast of characters.

Jack's experience, in particular, as he struggles with the position he finds himself in, his loitering addiction and the love for his family, hit me hard this time. Instead of seeing his horrible aspects front and center, I thought more about what was going on with him internally.

There were moments of clarity for him, when he could see beyond the fog of the hotel's power, moments where he cherished his son and wife, but they would slip away like mist. It made my heart ache for the whole family.

This experience also reiterated for me how much I love Wendy and Hallorann. They got played dirty in the movie adaptation and we all know it. Not by the actors, the acting was fantastic, but yeah, they feel like completely different people in the book, IMO.

Again, I was beyond impressed with some of the scenes in this still having the ability to scare the shit out of me, even after all these years. The perfect example would be the first time Jack tries to trim the topiary.

That freaking scene gets my pulse racing every time!

I also felt like I paid more attention to the history of The Overlook this time through; like when Jack is looking into it. I really felt focused in those sections and loved being reminded of its intensely lurid history.

Finally, I would just give all the stars in the universe, yet again, to King's sense of place with this one. His ability to transform a hotel into an actual character in the story is just a masterpiece. It's basically the standard to which I compare atmosphere in all other stories.

I'm so glad I took the time to reread this. It was exactly what I needed to re-energize my reading. You better believe, this won't be the last time either!


Here's the thing, July hasn't been the best reading month for me. I've had a lot of 2-to-3-star books. I'm frustrated. I'm getting disgruntled and burnt out on it honestly.

I have never been in a reading slump before, but I definitely feel myself drifting into that territory...

I feel like in an effort to keep that from happening, I am going to reread one of my top-3 favorite books of all-time. If anyone can shake me out of this funk, it's Jack Torrance.

I hear the fourth times a charm!!!


Hi. Hello!

It's me again, with another book you should consider picking up, if you haven't read it yet.

The Shining is my second favorite book of all time.

A true classic of Horror literature. I have read it a few times and it gets me EVERY. DAMN. TIME.

This is one of the most atmospheric books I have ever read, with The Overlook Hotel, ultimately becoming a character in its own right.

There are so many chilling moments from crazed topiary animals, to haunted elevators, and evil playground equipment.

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?

Read it.
Read it now!

Meg's Advice:

The Shining is best read on a cold, windy night, when you are home alone and there is the slight possibility that you may lose electricity. Candles burning are a must for this one!

Profile Image for Kat.
270 reviews80k followers
November 20, 2019
i- i don't even know what to say that hasn't already been said about this but lemme give it a shot.

god DAMN this is king at his best. i know, i know, "kat that is so cliche. couldn't you have picked a less popular king book to stan?"

i guess not, but hear me out.

1. first of all, i love a good old fashioned haunted house story and that's exactly what this is. the slow progression of madness that overtook jack and the introduction of new ghosts (or hallucinations, whatever you decide) was INCREDIBLE. not to mention the thing that i think king writes best is the feeling of confinement, and what's more confining than being snowed into a haunted hotel that literally wants you dead?? oh right, nothing.

2. the characterization!!! ah! the way that king wrote these characters was just *chefs kiss* not only did i care about danny, wendy, and (sometimes) jack, but we also got to rip back the layers of their relationships with each other and dynamic as a family which i LOVE. even if you don't think this is a great horror story, don't deny it is a baller family drama.

3. the horror of it all. whether you want to look at it as a family being attacked by ghosts, or a father being overcome by an extreme case of cabin fever, or even if the whole murdering thing doesn't scare you but you can see the fear that comes with having a family member who battles with some kind of addiction, this book is fucking scary. it may not have made me physically jump or scream, but i can tell you that it's a story that is gonna stick in my brain and not let go for a long long time (just like any good horror should)

now for the obligatory comparison to the movie:

it's common knowledge that king himself hates the Kubrick movie, but i love it. so much. it's one of the first horror movies i ever saw and i've seen it many times since, so while it's a popular opinion to love the book and shit on the movie i just can't bring myself to do it. yes, they're very different in a lot of ways, but honestly i think that Kubrick did the best with what he had to work with.
a BIG part of the novel is rooted in internal conflict. we spend so much time inside of jack, danny, and wendy's heads that it would have been impossible (imo) to translate that to the screen without a near constant voiceover (like basically just the audiobook playing over all the scenes) sO, i can't fault the movie for what it lacks in depth of character and explanation...i just can't. however, if for some reason you're reading this and you have seen the movie but haven't read the book YOU BETTER READ THE FCKING BOOK ARE YOU JOKING?? READ IT.

dear mr. stephen king,
i'm sorry i ever said that your popular books were overhyped. some of them are *cough* IT *cough* but this one isn't.
luv, kat

okay that's all read this book i don't have an outro okay byeeeee
Profile Image for Earline.
845 reviews
July 26, 2016
This scene from Friends pretty much sums up my feelings about this book:

"Rachel: Hmm. (she opens the freezer) Umm, why do you have a copy of The Shining in your freezer?

Joey: Oh, I was reading it last night, and I got scared, so.

Rachel: But ah, you’re safe from it if it’s in the freezer?

Joey: Well, safer. Y'know, I mean I never start reading The Shining, without making sure we’ve got plenty of room in the freezer, y'know.

Rachel: How often do you read it?

Joey: Haven’t you ever read the same book over and over again?

Rachel: Well, umm, I guess I read Little Women more than once. But I mean that’s a classic, what’s so great about The Shining?

Joey: The question should be Rach, what is not so great about The Shining. Okay? And the answer would be: nothing. All right? This is like the scariest book ever. I bet it’s way better than that classic of yours."
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,480 reviews79k followers
February 2, 2020
This was most excellent; I can 100% see why this is many readers favorite Stephen King novel. Heck, it's my favorite novel of his to date, although I have a good number of his books to catch up on. I've found myself overly critical of his work in the past, possibly due to the fact that he's so well known, but I feel it's more been a fault on my end. Previously I've picked up one of his doorstops at a time I wasn't prepared to fully invest in the time and energy it takes to immerse oneself into his world building and lengthy details. This time, I was ready. (Also, this was only like 600 pages which felt like a novella compared to IT.)

I'm finally able to understand why so many people hold the standard of traditional horror in comparison to this novel. Sure, it has all the creepy crawlies and spooky wookies to get your heart racing, but it's so grounded in reality that I had a hard time rationalizing with myself that "it's just a story." The 150 page set up is well worth the reader's time, as it lays the groundwork for much of the why behind the narrative, and it also gave me a chance to bond with precious Danny before the shit hit the fan.

I may be the last person on the planet to have read this book, but just in case I'm not, I wanted to share some of the things that really hit home with me. Just like IT is, at heart, a disturbing coming-of-age story, The Shining was an impeccable tale of extreme cabin fever with a hefty dose of "the destructive nature of alcoholism". When you break it down like that, the supernatural elements actually seem to take a backseat to the very real horror of what it's like living with someone struggling through addiction. I've heard all the stories of how this book helped SK realize his own struggle with alcohol, and I'm inclined to believe it's true as the writing here was heavy laden with emotion and depth.

I apologize for ever calling Mr. King over-hyped. I'm grateful my previous experiences with his wordier novels didn't deter me from finally choosing to read this, as it's a gem of a book and a classic in it's genre. I still despise Sleeping Beauties though and refuse to change my opinion on the matter. ;) Highly recommended to any other below-the-rock dwellers who may not have happened across this one. Now- to watch the movie or not?
Profile Image for Anne.
4,060 reviews69.5k followers
December 31, 2021

Is this horror?
I'm genuinely asking here because I'm not a horror aficionado, so I don't know what all constitutes that genre. To a layman like myself, IT was horror because it scared the piss out of me and I couldn't sleep without the lights on for a while. The Shining is more like a Spooky Family Drama. Yeah, yeah, there at the end things got a little hairy, but it was still mostly a human trotting around getting all stabby.


Now, I say mostly because good old Jack is getting some help from a couple of freaky paranormal spectres and...


In an effort to be transparent, I feel like I should mention that I've never actually watched the movie that was based on this bestselling novel. My husband (who has long since stopped being surprised by me) gasped out loud when I told him that a few days ago. So, I'm guessing from his reaction that I'm probably in the minority. Now, normally, whether or not you've seen the movie doesn't matter at all, but this is a pretty iconic movie we're talking about, so even without having seen it, I kind of knew the plot a bit and (of course) knew who acted the starring roles. I know, I know. None of that matters at all when you're talking about a book. But I just thought it might be relevant because the movie is so incredibly well known that even peasants like myself who haven't seen it, immediately recognize certain images from the film.


I said that to say this: Jack Nicholson is definitely not the Jack Torrence I was seeing in my head, as described by Stephen King. King's Jack was a handsome young guy who was married to a beautiful woman. Now, Shelly Duval is a fine actor and so is Nicholson. But...
Anyway. I was just surprised to find out that the characters in the book were hotties.
I've heard the book and movie are very different in a lot of ways, but that both are good if taken separately. I'm planning to rent the movie soon and find out.


Alright. The gist is that there's this guy (Jack) who made a few mistakes because he was a bit boozy, and is now trying to go straight and get it together for his family.
He's a bit of a pompous ass, truth be told. One of those people who feel as though everyone around them just doesn't understand their tortured genius, you know? But he's not just that guy. Which is where King's brilliance as a writer comes in.
He doesn't make Jack the bad guy, he makes Jack a guy.
He's trying. He's trying so hard to stay on the wagon, he's trying so hard to be a better husband, and he's trying so hard to be the father Danny deserves.
And if he hadn't landed a job at a fucking Haunted Hotel, I truly believe he would have made it work.


Or maybe not.
Regardless, Jack is only one of the important characters in this Hallmark Family Movie Channel story. You also have Jack's sweet and beautiful (if a bit too mousy and faithful to the old fucker) wife, Wendy. And, of course, their little son, Danny.
Danny has The Shine . <--which, when I found this out, FINALLY explained the name of this fucking book to me! Do you know how many years this has been subconsciously niggling at my brain?
Well, neither do I.
But when fellow psychic, mind reader, and hotel employee, Dick Hallorann, tells Danny what rooms to avoid over the winter because he can feel Danny's super-bright Shine? It was like a puzzle I didn't even know I was trying to solve clicked into place! It was one of those moments you have where you suddenly realize that there's one less thing you don't know. For one brief second, I felt like the universe had given me a high-five I hadn't asked for and then didn't even pull away at the last second.


So, what happens when you toss a recovering alcoholic with a penchant towards abusive behavior, an overly-optimistic woman who tends to flutter instead of walk, and a 5 year old who can tell what they are both thinking, inside of a hotel that basically wants to eat them?
Well, I don't want to spoil anything for the 3 people who don't know how all this turns out, but...


Anyway. Good stuff. I'm glad my pals forced me (once again) outside my comfort zone.

Buddy Read with The Jeff & The Angry German 4/16
Because who doesn't like child abuse?

Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
July 26, 2018
“The thought rose from nowhere, naked and unadorned. The urge to tumble her out of bed, naked, bewildered, just beginning to wake up; to pounce on her, seize her neck like the green limb of a young aspen and to throttle her, thumbs on windpipe, fingers pressing against the top of her spine, jerking her head up and ramming it back down against the floorboards, again and again, whamming, whacking, smashing, crashing. Jitter and jive, baby. Shake, rattle, and roll. He would make her take her medicine. Every drop. Every last bitter drop.”

For a guy like myself who loves to read and write taking the job as a winter caretaker of The Overlook Hotel sounds like a dream job.

The Stanley Hotel inspiration for The Overlook Hotel

The time requirements for the job are miniscule leaving me plenty of time every day to work on the next “great American novel”. Before leaving for this foray into isolationism I would calculate just how many books I would need to sustain me through the winter and then increase it by ⅓ or so. Jack Torrance makes the case that because he is an educated man he is better suited for the job.

“A stupid man is more prone to cabin fever just as he’s more prone to shoot someone over a card game or commit a spur-of-the-moment robbery. He gets bored. When the snow comes, there’s nothing to do but watch TV or play solitaire and cheat when he can’t get all the aces out. Nothing to do but bitch at his wife and nag at the kids and drink. It gets hard to sleep because there’s nothing to hear. So he drinks himself to sleep and wakes up with a hangover. He gets edgy. And maybe the telephone goes out and the TV aerial blows down and there’s nothing to do but think and cheat at solitaire and get edgier and edgier. Finally...boom, boom, boom.”

Now Jack may be an educated man but he is carrying around more baggage than any one bellhop could ever get delivered. He has a double helix of trouble an alcohol problem intertwined with a really nasty temper. He has lost jobs. He has beaten a young man senseless. He has broken his son Danny’s arm, little more than a toddler, because he messed up his papers.

Jack is always sorry.

Jack playing Jack

When not drinking he wipes his lips so often he makes them bleed.

His father was a violent man and King does give us some background on Jack’s childhood which may have been intended to lend some sympathy for Jack. Just because we follow the threads back to why he is the way he is doesn’t mean that he is anymore likeable or for that matter less dangerous. He may be an educated man, and he may have made the case as to why he is more qualified to be a caretaker cut off from the world, but as it turns out he wasn’t suited for the job, not suited at all.

I was sitting in an American English class at the University of Arizona, what seems like an eon ago, when a woman, older than the rest of us by probably 15 years or so, raised her hand and asked the teacher why we weren’t reading Stephen King for this class. I remember distinctly peering at the syllabus and seeing Steinbeck, Faulkner, Hemingway and Fitzgerald among others. It was the canon of American Literature about to be explored by some of us in depth and by some of us only by way of Cliff Notes or Sparks Notes. Some in the class I could almost pick them out by their shiny perfect teeth, which I found abhorrently boring like trees planted in perfect rows, belonged to the Greek Houses and would be showing up to class only to turn in their papers carefully culled from the vast files of papers written by past Sorority Sisters or Fraternity Brothers who had received As in this class for their efforts. After all it isn’t about learning, but about passing. I’m there probably feeling slightly nauseous from the flashing brilliance of pearly whites from the orthodontically challenged when the teacher turns to me and says “Jeff why do you think we aren’t teaching King in this class?”

Here I am thinking about this woman wanting to wedge King between my literary hero F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. I don’t think I’d even read King at this point, but I’d been working in a bookstore for many years and knew how important he was to providing me with a paycheck. He developed cross genre appeal bringing horror forward from being a subspecies of science-fiction and away from residing in a spinner rack of books at the back of the bookstore for those social abnormals dressed all in black.

I didn’t really know how to answer the question except in the most bland way possible. I said he hasn’t stood the test of time. I could tell my answer was about as satisfying as a week old bagel to the woman, and I was hampered by the fact that I really didn’t want to insult the woman. The teacher also looked mildly disappointed. I could tell she was hoping to see blood in the water and I failed to be the shark she thought me to be.

The woman’s question does show the issue about Stephen King that is debated in most literary circles whether they are a book club down at the local library or the academic break room at a major university. He has legions of fans. He makes millions every time he puts out a new book which feels like four times a year. The problem is he is a genius. He isn’t a genius in the way that Pynchon, Gaddis, or Wallace are geniuses. He is a genius storyteller. So if so many people are reading him he really can’t be any good...can he?

Someone on GR made the really good point that Stephen King does not need him to buy and read his books. He has writer friends, below the radar, that need his support more. That is so true and one of the more annoying things about King followers is that a percentage of them don’t read anything else. They would come into the bookstore and hound us for the release date of the next Stephen King. I would sweep my hand grandly through the air and point out several other authors that may fill the time between King novels. They simply were not interested.

The thing of it is I used to love being one of those scruffy minded individuals that are always trying to find the next great writer before anyone else. There was no reason to read King because there were no points to be scored with my group of pseudo-intellectual friends by saying something so insipid as “is anyone else reading the new King?”

When I worked at Green Apple Books in San Francisco, which by the way that city is one of the best reading publics in the United States, we catered to University professors, want-to-be writers, actors, and a slew of other professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and bankers. It was a well educated lot to say the least. I thought my days of selling King were over....wrong. Customers with wire rimmed glasses and elbow patches on their tweed jackets would bring up these academic books so obscure that I had no idea we even had them in the store, and invariably in the pile somewhere would be a Stephen King novel. I was still too caught up in my self-image as a reader to really think about taking a walk with the “normals” and start reading King, but I was starting to think to myself... hmmm I wonder what’s going on in them thar books?

(The Red Death held sway over all!)


Danny, Jack’s five year old son, has what one character referred to as “a shine”. If people are thinking about something intently, Danny can read their thoughts. He also has an invisible friend named Tony who can take him places, a bit more elaborate than my invisible friend Beauregard. What a dud he turned out to be.

Danny loves his father, actually more than his mother Wendy, which is such a painful realization for her. She has stood in the breach. She DIDN'T break his arm. She protects him from everything including his FATHER. As the malevolent force at the hotel begins to exert more and more influence on Jack and Danny she is relatively unaffected by hallucinatory thoughts. The interesting subtext of this novel is that Jack thinks the hotel is after him. As Danny explains:

“It’s tricking Daddy, it’s fooling him, trying to make him think it wants him the most. It wants me the most, but it will take all of us.”

A precocious five year old with a brain of such singular existence that the evil entity of The Overlook Hotel must have him. Another interesting aspect of the book is the fact that most people will not be affected by the ghostly influences of the hotel unless they have an imaginative brain to start with. They must have a mind open enough to hear the voices and realize the possibility that they may be real.

Did I mention that I’m not really interested in that job anymore?

I know this story. I haven’t watched the movie or read the book previously and yet I’m very familiar with the plot.

It didn’t matter.

While reading this book I was on the edge of my seat. My pulse rate elevated. My mind buzzing with lizard brain flight or fight responses. This guy King knows how to tell a story. There is this scene on the stairs between Jack and Wendy that is probably one of the most intense fight scenes I’ve ever read in literature. I was right there with the characters feeling the thud of the roque mallet and the grind of my broken ribs.

Stephen King is a cultural geek of the first order. He enjoys reading and promoting writers. He is a self-made man. A man blessed and haunted by a vivid imagination. He gets big points from me for mentioning Welcome to Hard Times and also McTeague two books that are members of my favorite obscure literature list. I like it when a writer tells us what his characters are reading. He mentions television shows such as The Avengers, which I loved discovering recently that Honor Blackman (Pussygalore) preceded Diana Rigg on that show, and King also mentions Secret Agent Man starring Peter McGoohan. For the last two years I’ve been sifting through old television shows, thank you NETFLIX, and finding shows that I really like. Besides the two shows King mentioned I’ve also enjoyed watching The Baron starring Steve Forrest and Sue Lloyd and the short episodes of Honey West starring the ocelot Bruce. I also have The Saint queued up starring Roger Moore. I have fond memories of watching that show as a child late at night in the summer time.

There has been a hue and cry from his fan base for Stephen King's work to be looked on as literary classics. They feel he is not given the respect he deserves for being a great writer. He is accessible to the average reader, and yet; somehow, puts the right hooks in his writing to please the elevated reader. We do him a disservice, I feel, to try to make him into something he is not. That said, probably the best of King will be read 100 years from now. He is the consummate storyteller still enamored with the unknown and the unknowable. He has a childlike wonder for the world and I for one will make a bigger effort to see the world more often through his eyes.

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Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
October 2, 2019
About as perfect a haunted house story as can be, King was at his best here.

It's as though he built a haunted house and then filled every nook and cranny with detail. King is also at his best in regard to characterization, all well rounded and complete, we know family relationships, group dynamics, all the old hidden buried fears.

King touches base with psychological elements, theological, metaphysical, spiritual, and cryptic aspects of a ghost story to wrap the reader in a blanket of horror.

** I watched the 1980 Stanley Kubrik film recently and this made me want to reread the book (which I need to anyway). Kubrik's film grasps the psychological elements of the book and delivers an extra large thin crust The Works pizza of haunted house horror. Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance is still the defining image of this tortured man. While some critics have derided the slow pace of the film (atypical for jump-out-and-yell-BOO! horror fliks of the time) I felt that Kubrik was building the tone and mood of the story to the grisly final moments. King himself has attributed mixed emotions to the film as an adaptation, but has consistently agreed that the imagery of an internal struggle with the dark side of Jack's psyche is a contribution to the horror film genre. King also disagreed with the casting of Nicholson who too closely identified with insanity (due largely to his exceptional work in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Interestingly, King himself was battling alcoholism while writing the classic and viewing his work and Kubrik's vision from this perspective adds greater depth to an understanding and appreciation of both.

Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,255 reviews2,297 followers
May 1, 2016
Quite simply put, The Shining is the best horror story I have ever read. It scared the hell out of me.

Over a period of time, I have noticed certain standard "motifs" in horror stories. One of these I call "The Lost Child". Such stories will typically involve a child, who can see what the silly grownups cannot see (or, even if they do see, don't acknowledge because it goes against reason and logic): and who fights, however high the odds stacked against him/ her are. Danny Torrance is such a boy.

Danny can read minds. He can see the frightening thoughts inside his Dad's and Mom's heads ("DIVORCE", "SUICIDE") but is powerless to do anything about it. Danny does not know that he has a gift; he takes it as a matter of course, until Dick Halloran of the Overlook Hotel tells him that he "shines on".

Jack Torrance, Danny's Dad, reformed alcoholic and struggling writer, is trying to put his life back together after a tragedy. He gets what he sees as the ideal chance when he lands the job of caretaker of the Overlook Hotel for the winter. In the snowed-in hotel with only his son and wife Wendy, Jack assumes that he will get enough quality time to be with his family, patch up old quarrels, and write that breakout novel.

But the Overlook has other plans. The hotel, which feeds on and grows in strength from the evils committed on its premises, wants Danny-permanently-to join its crew of ghostly inhabitants. And to do that, it needs to get to Jack...

The novel slowly grows in horror, starting with mild unease, moving up through sweaty palms and dry mouth, to pure, gut-wrenching terror. Jack's slow slide into madness is paralleled by the growth in power of the hotel's dark miasma, and Danny's extraordinary capabilities. We are on a roller-coaster ride into darkness.

The world of grownups is often frighteningly incomprehensible to young children: these fears seldom die as we grow up, but remain dormant in our psyche. There are very few of us who does not have a ghost in our childhood somewhere. It is when the writer invokes this ghost that story gets to us. King does a masterly job of awakening that child, and putting him/ her in the midst of childhood terrors through the alter ego of Danny Torrance, lost in the cavernous corridors of the Overlook.

There are a lot of passages which literally creeped me out in this novel (the topiary animals, the fire hose in the corridor, the woman in the bathroom to name a few). As King has said elsewhere, the monster behind the door is more frightening than the monster slavering at you: this book is full of such monsters. More importantly, you will keep on remembering your own boogeymen while you are reading; and long after you finish, you will feel the urge to look behind you.

Horror stories are a form of catharsis. As King says, the writer takes you to the body covered under the sheet: you feel it, and are frightened. At the same time, you are relieved that the body is not you.

A true masterpiece.

Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,259 reviews5,624 followers
September 19, 2022
هناك بريق يبهرك..و هناك بريق يعميك💥
عندما يتحدث كينج عن القدرات الخاصة..يجب ان ننصت مليا"..فاعتقد ان لديه شيئا منها
و عندما يخبرنا كينج عن الإدمان..يجب ان نستمع جيدا
..فقد عاني طويلا من هذا الداء الوبيلScreenshot_2018_09_14_13_49_32_1
و عندمايحكي لنا كينج عن الفنادق المسكونة..فلنصمت جميعا. .فملك الرعب يخبرنا حكاية جديدة

جاك مدرس لغة إنجليزية حياته تتهدم بسبب ادمانه على الشراب ..يفقد عمله..و على شفا خسرانه زوجته و ابنه
يأخذ نفسه بالشدة
..و يقرر ان يعمل ناطورا لفندق جبلي فخم..يتم غلقه طوال الشتاء..لأن العواصف الثلجية تعزله عن العالم و" الشراب "لاكثر من 6 أشهر كل عام
يصطحب أسرته ..و هناك..نكتشف ان للفندق القديم ' عادات شتاءية سيئة
الغرف تعيد تمثيل جرائم الماضي..أشجار الحديقة المنحوتة على شكل حيوانات. .تتجول و تهاجمك
المطعم..و ما أدراك بأحداث المطعم

الابن داني في سن الخامسة له قدرات تجعله يرى و يسمع كل شيء
و هنا يتحول من يحميك إلى مصدر رعبك
هواجس التوق للمشروب مختلطة مع هلاوس الفندق الخاوى..كانت من أصدق ما كتبه كينج..و قد كتبها في عز معاناته مع الادمان

هناك قراء كثيرون يختنقون من البناء الكثيف لشخصيات كينج..و لكن هذه الرواية تعتبر درسا في بناء الشخصية الروائية ..وهي من النوع الذي اما تحبه فورا او تتركها للابد ......لا ؤوجد 3نجوم هنا 🌟🌟🌟 الأبطال أربعة فقط...لا يظهر غيرهم مع الأشباح
اخيرا صارت مترجمة للعربية
و لكن من لم يشاهد الفيلم الغريب. .فهو لم ير بعد ابداع جاك نيكلسون الحقيقي رغم ان كينج لم يحب معالجة ستانلي كوبريك للرواية كثيرا
و هناك استطراد متأخر للرواية في د. سليييب

مخطىء من يظن أن كينج مجرد كاتب روايات رعب
مسطحة ..بل هو طبيب نفسي اريب.. يجذب القراء بإطار من الرعب و الجريمة
لا اقول ان كل اعماله ممتازة. .بل غزارة إنتاجه توقعه في الفخ احيانا
و لكن البريق تستحق💫 و ان كانت ليست للكل
Profile Image for Maggie Stiefvater.
Author 81 books168k followers
May 6, 2022
Years ago, I stayed at a brand new Vegas hotel for a conference. Brand. New. This shining black tower of decadence had been decorated only a few months before I got there. It had all the ambiance of a freshly vacuumed rental car. In time it would wear Vegas, or vice versa, but for now: it was the new, gormless kid on the block.

So imagine my surprise when, on the last day of my stay, I was tormented all night long by something that turned on the jets in my hot tub, stomped heavily to and fro every time I turned the lights out, and, eventually, after I told the room audibly to "cut it out, I've got an early flight," slammed a shaking blow into the headboard directly beside me to remind me who had seniority in this place. In the morning, I confessed to the front desk I'd had a bit of an exciting night, and not in the usual Vegas way. With a glance at the room number, the clerk said he bet that I had.

Later, I found out the brand new hotel had only been a few weeks old when a man had jumped to his death from one of the rooms; the stylish glass balconies I'd enjoyed were an aftermarket part, designed to keep other tortured guests from following suit. Unclear if my room had been the unlucky suite. Unclear if my room was like that because the man had jumped, or if the man had jumped because my room was like that.

So: that's The Shining.

I'm sure I'm the last person in the world to have read the book (I haven't seen the film still, but now I will), but better late than never, right?

Sucks to shine in a hotel hungry for it, I guess.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,942 followers
October 1, 2020
Reread for my Horror Group Challenge & another Group Ghost Walk Challenge

Found me an old school copy with pics inside!!

4.5 Stars

I'm not sure why I only saw the movie and never read the book. I loved the movie so much it makes no sense, but back in the day, not many things make sense to me.

I will have to go back and watch the movie again to see all of the different little changes. Now I know why some things happened. You know those things, the little things that are only in the head, written in the book, but doesn't show up in the movie part. Wow! I know the book messed with my head but I didn't realize it would make me write that way! I hope anyone reading this can understand what I meant.

I really did enjoy the book, although I did feel a bit crazier than I am at times with all of the voices in everyone's head! :)

I didn't want one of the bad things that happened in the movie to NOT happen in the book. I didn't want to read that part and lo and behold, it didn't happen! Yay!

The ending in the book was a lot better than the movie. Once again, I really did enjoy this book and look forward to reading and re-reading more of the golden oldies!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

BLOG: https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot....
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 8, 2020
3.5 stars


Just published Two Truths and a Lie - A Booktube Review featuring this book and two others!

Check it out to figure out which ones rock and which is the dud! With special guest - Tucker Almengor!
The Written Review
“Sometimes human places, create inhuman monsters.”
The Overlook Hotel - gorgeous and isolated - is in need of a winter caretaker.

Jack and his family are in need of an income and a place to stay.

Months alone, trapped by snow, with only the family by their sides.

What could go wrong?
“Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.”
So this one was pretty dang good but gosh-dang did I get lost at times.

I think it was cause I watched the movie first.

So while I was reading this book, I was constantly trying to piece together half-remembered fragments with what happened in the book.

That being said, this book felt well-crafted. It was compelling, fascinating and spooky.

Watching the darkness spread and death coming ever closer really cinched the book for me.

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Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
672 reviews4,291 followers
August 21, 2020
“Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.”

When I first read The Shining a number of years ago I thought it was fantastic and gave it 5 stars, but it just never ranked as a personal favourite. On this reread, however, my socks were well and truly blown off and I had an entirely different experience. This is why I will always be a huge advocate for rereading - it’s quite apparent that wherever your head is at, or whatever life circumstances you find yourself in, can really impact how you view a book. As if that isn’t obvious.

On my first read, I was impatient. I was just starting to read King, I wanted the SCARY BITS. This time around I was emotionally involved. I felt a deep connection to Danny and I could really tap into Wendy’s fears as a parent. A younger, more naive me would have thought “why don’t you just fucking leave if all this creepy shit is happening?” - well, until the snow storm at least - but now I can appreciate this as a last chance saloon for the Torrances. They needed the money, they really had nothing else to go back to.

The Shining is surely one of King’s scariest, if not THE scariest - a few scenes in Pet Sematary might rival this title. One scene in particular left me feeling claustrophobic and breathless, and I regretted reading it one night before bed when I was home alone. I love that there’s so much history to the Overlook and that the former guests continue to hang around...

Jack’s descent into madness is terrifying. He is a complex character and it is difficult to know whether we are to sympathise with him or not. He’s far from a perfect father, but we are all flawed in our ways - just maybe not to this extreme. I shed a little tear towards the end, because I think in spite of all he has done, he does love his son - he was just the perfect prey for the Overlook to get its claws into.

I thoroughly LOVED this reread, and also the extra prologue and epilogue this edition has. The prologue in particular is something you should seek out if you’re a fan of The Shining - it really added another layer of history. 5 stars.
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,848 followers
January 9, 2022
When MC Johnny is in the haunted mountain hotel house, twins can raise their axes and sway to the beat of the barkeepers´ whispering background vibe

Maybe just so popular because of the movie
I´ve read a ton of Kings´ novels, some already 2 times, and must say that this is a good, but by far not one of his best works. It has some freaking labyrinth, bathroom, parenting, and insanity axe murder moments, but besides that, there is much less terror, paranormal activity, and horror than one would expect and hope for. One could call it subtle and slowly accelerating in suspense and action, but subjectively it´s just not unleashing its full potential. Its close to only focus is on going insane in an isolated place and thereby facing ones´ demons, talking with ghosts, and self-doubt. I honestly even was a bit disappointed, because I know the better, harder, and far cooler King who switches perspectives, has big picture scenes, and much more badass characters than just stumbling fathers with alcohol problems.

Many autobiographical undertones in the horror hotel
There is so much personal King in this, his fear of wasps, not liking a kid, being a writer and substance abuser, probably even some relationship problems, especially in combination with the mentioned bad parenting and being high as heck tendencies. Not sure about that, he mentioned other inspirations in interviews, prefaces, and lectures, but because of his tendency to kind of use writing as a self reflection and therapy session, one can assume that there might have been the one or other epic Tabitha vs Stephen battle or King vs his kids, especially his son, that laid the groundwork.

Psi powers penetrate mental sanity
Going insane in the membrane on a wacky holiday trip has never been so much fun, especially because the issues and frustrations of the main protagonist are the foundation for escalation towards total bonkers status. A stable, happy person might have found a better way to deal with career and relationship problems, but that would have been a pretty boring attempt and not half as cool as good old letting the anger out before it hurts the hater, instead leaving everyone else as a victim or dead. That´s much better for the salvation of the ones that also caused the whole mess.

Alternative family therapy, anger management, bonding, and teambuilding methods
No matter what the friendlier, calmer approaches might tell, some in you face methods of innovative, new therapeutic schools recommend just unleashing ones´ anger, maybe accompanied by visualizing ones´ demons until they manifest as if they are real and give more, even greater tips and tricks to handle the situation.

How much could be real?
With all that quantum, parallel universe, time travel, extra dimension stuff, one really doesn´t know what will come out in centuries or millennia when 4567 scientists will use their instruments to find correlations between physics, death, haunted place, and possibly even souls, demons, and damned sex succubi. Maybe we just haven´t figured out how to construct the right equipment to see that we are surrounded by myriads of emanating reminiscences of billions of years of evolution and trillions of immortal, multi dimensional consciences that are created with each physical body.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique
Profile Image for Matt.
935 reviews28.6k followers
October 31, 2020
"He sat down on one of the stools and propped his elbows on the bar’s leather-cushioned edge. At his left hand was a bowl for peanuts – now empty, of course. The first bar he’d been in for nineteen months and the damned thing was dry – just his luck. All the same, a bitterly powerful wave of nostalgia swept over him, and the physical craving for a drink seemed to work itself up from his belly to his throat to his mouth and nose, shriveling and wrinkling the tissues as it went, making them cry out for something wet and long and cold."
- Stephen King, The Shining

A lot of terrifying things occur in The Shining. None of them are as terrifying as the excruciating battle fought between the ears of an alcoholic. Stephen King’s novel is a classic ghost story; it is also a painful portrait of a man’s mental breakdown.

That man is Jack Torrance, a gifted writer who has squandered his talent with booze and a bad temper. He and his family – wife Wendy, young son Danny – are wintering at the Overlook, a hotel in the Colorado mountains with a long and checkered past. Jack has been given a job as the caretaker of the Overlook. It’s his last chance to make good after losing a teaching position at a prestigious prep school. All he has to do is keep the rooms heated, provide basic upkeep, and make minor repairs. He thinks the job will give him plenty of time to finish the play he has been laboring on. The only trick is the isolation. Once the snows move in, they will make the winding mountain roads impassable. The Overlook will be cut off. It’s the perfect spot to do some writing, go homicidally crazy, or both.

The genius of The Shining is the simplicity of its setting. Isolated location. Spirit infested living accommodations. Precocious child. All these story elements are exceedingly familiar. Layered onto this foundation is King’s exploration of Jack’s increasingly fragile psyche. King is at the height of his powers in his evocation of Jack. He makes visceral the taste of crushed aspirin, the piercing headaches, the desperate thirst for a drink. Jack is a complex character, at once a loving husband, a doting father, a grade-A prick, and a self-destructive wreck.

King is known for outsized epics with dozens of characters. Here, he pares things down to four main players. Besides Jack there are Wendy, Danny, and Dick Hallorann, the Overlook’s chef. King cleverly utilizes a third-person limited viewpoint, which allows him a tell the story through several eyes, giving him the ability to both widen and narrow the focus at his whim.

After Jack, Danny is the most important figure. He has “the shine”, a kind of ESP that includes mental telepathy, sensitivity to the paranormal, mind reading, and the gift of prophecy. (The ability to predict the future is not his best talent, though. If it was, the story would have turned out differently). Danny’s abilities allow him to perceive the danger of the Overlook Hotel – and its poisonous effect on his father – long before anyone else.

I think King’s major achievement is the way he grounds the weirdness in reality. He is methodical in building this limited world (the Overlook, the town of Sidewinder) and sketching its handful of characters. His plotting takes a bit of time, but there is a reason. Take, for instance, an early scene in which Jack and Wendy take Danny to a psychiatrist. The upshot is that the psychiatrist gives a mushy-mumbly diagnosis of Danny’s “special” abilities that momentarily soothes his parents. It’s a scene that could easily have been excised, since it’s clear the doctor is wrong, and it’s obvious that Danny’s abilities are beyond rational explanation. The value of keeping it, though, is that it more firmly roots the proceedings in the actual world. Eventually, King cuts loose and unleashes all manner of insanity. Some of it, frankly, is a bit goofy. However, all the work he has done setting up his endgame paid off. I believed so much that I didn't bat an eye once the hotel came – for lack of a better phrase – to life.

The Shining is a slow simmering tale that eventually explodes in the unrestrained violence and gore that has made King wealthy beyond imagining. (Of course, compared to some of his other titles, The Shining is practically subtle). The ending is something that is foreshadowed early on; unlike the producers of Friends, I will not spoil it for those who’ve managed to avoid learning it. I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of how King concludes things, but I liked the lead-up so much that I can let that pass. I appreciated the slow turning of the screws, the gradual accretion of detail, the building of tension before it all boils over.

I suppose a brief mention of Kubrick’s famous movie version is in order. I’ve heard that King hated it, and I can totally see why. Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance as already half-crazy by the time the title card is shown. It’s hard to take his portrayal seriously when his eyes are screaming I’m a psycho! from the very first scene. The film version of Jack Torrance is an exercise in Jack Nicholson seeing if he can out-Jack Nicholson himself. (He does). I like Kubrick’s The Shining, for its formal brilliance if nothing more. The novel, as is often the case, is far superior.

The book version of Jack Torrance is far different from his cinematic shadow. He begins as a deeply flawed man with an ugly past, a serious addiction, and a nasty streak a mile wide. But he is also a man who loves – or believes he loves – his wife and child. You see flashes of a good man, a man you don’t want to see destroyed. The erosion of Jack’s mind and soul is The Shining’s narrative backbone. King paints an indelible portrait. Jack chewing Excedrin after Excedrin. Jack wiping his lips till they bleed. Jack trying to distract himself from the thought of a drink. Jack trying to reconcile the man he wanted to be with the man he has demonstrated to the world. This is a fully realized and unforgettable character. It’s an accomplishment, and a testament to King’s skill. A skill, perhaps, that is sometimes overlooked.

I am slowly making my way through Stephen King’s extensive canon. So far, my favorite has been Pet Sematary, where King uses a ghoulish conceit (an Indian burial ground that can bring the dead back to life) to explore a very real human concern (loss and grief). He touched such powerful chords with that book that I hesitate to ever open it again. It’s becoming very clear to me that King is a genius. An artist of the first order. Not just a top-notch storyteller. Not just a guy with an incredible imagination. But a bona fide literary master. He writes things that you read and don’t forget, ever.

A lot of wacky and macabre things happen at the Overlook during the course of The Shining. The tension, the shocks, the slow revelation of the lurking terror, are all things that will keep you turning pages with increasing rapidity. It is also the reason that The Shining (along with King’s other works) is so obviously translatable to film. But the reason this is unforgettable is the framework that King builds upon. The horror of the supernatural is not nearly so deep and so dread as that which passes between flawed human beings.
Profile Image for ELLIAS (elliasreads).
489 reviews39k followers
February 5, 2021
This book was like a slow claustrophobic squeeze around my neck; I can definitely see why this book from KING is his most classic one yet.

I really enjoyed the way he tackled difficult subjects— abuse, alcoholism, a difficult marriage, and mixes them with horror elements; it was definitely a deep dive read. You can watch the liveshow for my overall thoughts but here are my short general thoughts on the book overall:

Danny was lovely. Too cute sometimes. This smol bb boy literally stomped his tiny foot and said to the mean nasty ol' Overlook: "I'm only five!!" Stop bOtHeRInG mEeeEEEE!!!. He didn't say that last part. Heavily implied though.

Jack Torrance. What a character. One moment you hate him. Like bitch. He needs therapy. Well, the whole family, honestly. The next, maybe you'll sympathize with him. Or not. Either way, King has a way of writing such characters with really complex layers that really gives them a definite look over.

Wendy. My girl suffered through H E L L with this shit. Homegirl barely got it through with all the misogyny, constantly sexualized, that rough toxic masculinity shit, all the ghosts and demons thrown at her. Me shouting out through the entire book: 'I was rooting for you the entire way!!!'

Hallorann. This man carried this whole fucking book on his back if you asked me. The only person of color in this book that really changed and saved the whole story for all of us. Imagine if there were more POC here. The Overlook wouldn't even stand a chance.

What I didn't like:

The blatant and completely unnecessary uses of the n word and other racist dialogue. King is white. Took too much of a liberation with this and really made me uncomfortable and took me out of the story a few times. I understand it takes place in the 70s. The sexual depictions of pretty much every female character in this book. The male gaze was strong with this one. Eurgh.

Hedge animals: "r oAr". Me: ahahAhaHaHah— what? Edward Scissorhands could N E V E R let me tell you.

Overall a good solid read. Not too scary though.


Watch the The Late Night Book Club Liveshow here:
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Profile Image for Henry Avila.
468 reviews3,254 followers
March 22, 2020
This is basically just another haunted house story...but my, such a great one, Stephen King brings all his considerable talents into view. Though his tendency to overwrite shows too, a little editing would have made it even better by cutting out superfluous pages, nothing wrong in being succinct . If you like ghouls, strange apparitions , an atmosphere thick with foreboding this ride will satisfy, not to mention the continuous party in the Colorado Lounge, where drinks are on the house, with Lloyd the perpetually agreeable gentleman presiding ...
A vague bartender who knows how to mix them, wild, crazy , raucous "people" inside, and noisy scenes happening frequently, sounds like fun...Now to begin, John "Jack" Torrance has a little drinking problem, a falling down drunk, to be honest, it wouldn't matter much to anyone, except he is married with a lovely wife Wendy and a good son Danny age five, he the kid, sees things though...which becomes a problem later on. The parents are in their late twenties, Jack has recently lost his job teaching at a prep school , an English instructor in New England, very appropriate. What is not, beating up a spoiled rich student damaging his old car, Jack has a bad temper obviously , and gives no mercy. Let go by the school he desperately needs another job quickly, this is where the ancient Overlook Hotel, in the high Rocky Mountains of Colorado, over 10,000 feet in elevation, becomes important. Jack's best friend Albert Shockley a wealthy man, obtains him the caretaker position there in the winter, he is part owner and fellow lush. A new start for the aspiring writer; five months in isolation with only his rattled family , the roads become impassable because of heavy snows, often blizzards strike the area, Mr. Torrance has the time now to finish his play, that will solve all the difficulties. Nevertheless the Overlook has other ideas not so nice, room 217 for instance, nor is it the only one , the sinister hotel elevator disturbs the occupants, a free spirit , which makes a quite chilling situation there. The three humans in the creepy building, months alone, can cause some to become unbalanced, even maniacal, as the temperature drops and the snowflakes fall, tense Wendy feels uneasy... Terrific novel and the little child, Daniel (Danny) his invisible, unearthly friend, the aloof Tony , dominates the preceding, they are rather a peculiar pair... good or bad is the question, the answer... read the book. However in reality and shall I write these words...the fiendish Overlook Hotel is the star.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,986 followers
March 4, 2019
Another Stephen King re-read complete!

I have had this book marked at 4 stars since I added it a few years ago. It has probably been 20 years since I last read the book and, in that time, I have watched the Kubrick movie a few times. Honestly, I am not a huge fan of the Kubrick movie (and I hear King wasn’t either). I think my thoughts on the movie combined with being a couple of decades removed from reading it skewed my rating a bit low.

This time, though, with the refresher – 5 stars all the way!

Definitely classic King, and maybe one of the most perfect monster/ghost stories ever written. One very important thing I think that people forget (including me) is

I listened to the book this time and the audio narration was great. I was enthralled the entire time and the narrator did a great job raising the stakes as the story progressed. If you are also considering a re-read, the audiobook is a great option.

If you are a King fan and haven’t read this, you should!

If you are looking for a place to start King, this is not a bad choice. It is a little more psychologically complex that a couple of the other titles I recommend as King starting points (The Dead Zone and Pet Sematary), but definitely would give anyone a good feel for King.

While there are some elements in the book similar to the movie, forget everything you have seen and the impressions Kubrick has given you and try the book. I think you will find it to be a vastly improved experience. Also, I hear the more recent mini-series is much more true to the book – I hope to hunt that one down, soon!
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews598 followers
February 24, 2018
Ok, Mr. Jack Torrence,.....
..... The man who was going to live by his a best selling author, acclaimed playwright and winner of the New York critics award, man of letters, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, killed my appetite
..... I’ll never be able to look at a Triscuit cracker again without thinking of “The Shining”, .... let alone eat one.
You, Sir, took the joy out of crunching those little squares.
Great characters- storytelling- thriller by a master. Yep... I can see why readers get hooked on King.

Huge thanks to Zoey!!!!!! I’m so glad I read this!!! An adrenaline rush!!!!!
Off for a long Sat. morning hike - starting in 31 degrees. Geee... this is California!
Profile Image for Rebecca.
265 reviews275 followers
October 28, 2022
“You shine on, boy. Harder than anyone I ever met in my life. And I’m sixty years old this January.” “Huh?” “You got a knack,” Hallorann said, turning to him. “Me, I’ve always called it shining. That’s what my grandmother called it, too. She had it. We used to sit in the kitchen when I was a boy no older than you and have long talks without even openin our mouths.”

The Shining is a story about the Torrance family. Jack, his wife Wendy and their five year old son, Danny. Jack is hired as the caretaker at the remote Overlook Hotel for the winter season. He is informed by the hotel manager that the previous caretaker, Delbert Grady, killed his entire family inside the hotel. Specifically, that Grady “murdered his two little girls with a hatchet, his wife with a shotgun, and then committed suicide.” As Jack later learns, the Overlook has a long and terrible history. Over the years, it has housed illicit affairs, horrible murders, and mob style executions.

Nonetheless, Jack is determined to be the caretaker. In the past, Jack, an aspiring writer and former school teacher has struggled with alcohol and anger issues. Once, he accidentally broke his son’s arm while trying to discipline him. More recently, Jack assaulted a student when he caught him letting the air out of his tires. The incident cost Jack his teaching job and almost his marriage.

Jack, now a recovering alcoholic and working on a play, hopes that the seclusion of the Overlook will help him finish the play and reconnect with his wife and son.

But the Overlook Hotel has other ideas. The longer the Torrance family stays, the more haunting and powerful it becomes…..

So, obviously this is Stephen King at his very best. Every chapter leaves you wanting more, and every sentence in this book is outstanding. Brilliantly written horror that is both magical and terrifying with fully developed characters that are equal parts innocent, vulnerable and pure evil!

The Overlook hotel, is a living nightmare, its bricks and mortar soaked through with past horrors. The creepy hedge animals, the old fashioned fire extinguisher: a coiled snake ready to strike, the sounds of a party echoing through the empty rooms and halls, the boiler, unstable and dangerous. The imagery playing through my mind was magnificent!

The Shining is an absolute masterpiece. A must read classic.

Highly recommend 🙌🏻
Profile Image for Ginger.
787 reviews367 followers
November 10, 2017
All the stars!
Loved, loved this book!

I'm not sure what to say in this review that hasn't been said by others. I was blown away by how great this book was. It was so much better then the movie!

The slow progression of insanity with Jack Torrance was one of the best things about this book. I loved the overall menacing presence of The Overlook. I loved how the hotel becomes more violent and threatening to Danny and his family the longer they stay there. It was so gripping and overwhelming as the story unfolded. You just couldn't quit reading!
I enjoyed Danny's struggle as a kid with understanding his 'gifts' and how to use them in a positive way.

Danny, don't you dare go into room 217!

This whole book was just awesome! This review doesn't give this book justice for how great it is. I recommend this book to Stephen King fans and horror lovers.

One of the best books out there! GO READ IT!
Profile Image for Fabian.
956 reviews1,623 followers
October 31, 2019
His best book is 'The Green Mile,' but since it doesn't quite fall under the Horror category, it is either 'Shining' or 'Carrie' which take top prize.

There is not one single detriment to this well-known tale of the disintegration of the American family within the realm of the undead. King here is as he has never been since: metaphoric and concise. He usually adds fact upon useless fact that converts a 400 page work into something more gargantuan, and, therefore, less enthralling.

King is not a fan of the Kubrick film, and it is easy to see why. His story is about the build up of tension, the "shining' a catalyst that promotes a bridge between the haunts & the humans. The boiler burns, blows everything up just as Jack Torrence forgets his humanity & becomes an ego/id complex. His selfishness & his alcoholism (a hereditary illness... another theme about family "curses," and weak threads) leads to savagery. The ghosts are the manifestations of a child's bruised home-life and the suffocation and claustrophobia have more to do with that tragic past than the hotel's eerie interior.

I place this masterpiece next to 'The Exorcist', a tale that is more than just a simple tale of demonic possession. To say the 'The Shining' is just a ghost story is something Kubrick ran with... completely ignoring the pathos of a family eating away at itself. The Torrences suffer because they had been broken prior to the stay at the Overlook... it seems that for this one all the stars aligned and all the ingredients for one of the most amazing horror stories of all time mixed exquisitely. This one is the one that made King king.
Profile Image for Justin.
284 reviews2,300 followers
October 30, 2021

Update 10/30/21:
Wow… I’ve read this book four times now?!
I don’t know what I wrote before, but it’s still a four-star read for me. It was interesting reading it in this weird post-Covidish time since it is heavy on themes of isolation and being quarantined off from the rest of the world. Happy Halloween everyone. Time to go take my medicine.

Update 8/28/18:
I completely agree with everything I said two years ago. Third time reading this one, and I think I enjoyed it the most this time around. Now it’s time to watch the movie and read Doctor Sleep. Kicking off a couple months of reading scary, autumny, Halloweeny books.


Old school Stephen King, man. That's where it's at. This is a high point in the King canon for me. In Salem's Lot before this, he developed fascinating characters inhabited a beautifully described small town. He took his time slowly unraveling the story, taking pages and pages to build the setting and deepen our relationship with the large cast of characters. In The Shining, there are basically three characters outside of a small cast of supporting actors. The setting is really just a giant old hotel in a snowy Colorado town. But SK takes even more pages, sometimes entire blasted chapters to develop his characters and set his scenes.

Like I said before, it's a slow burn, man.

The fact that King takes his time building the horror makes the scary scenes that much scarier. It's not a horror novel full of jump scares and monsters. It's effective by drawing us deep into the minds of the characters, overhearing their innermost thoughts, and freaking out right along with them. The scenes there for horror effect and the iconic stuff from the movie aren't even all that necessary. There is so much else going on in the isolation, addition, desperation, schizophrenia of it all that plays so much harder on your emotions than what's hiding behind a hotel room door.

It's long winded at times, sure, but it's mostly necessary. We get to know the Torrence family better than we wish we ever did by the end of this thing. From the awkwardness of the initial conversation with Jack and Ullman to the wild and crazy climax, the pages keep turning and your heart keeps pounding faster. King takes you on a long roller coaster ride that moves slowly up the long, high incline before bringing us crashing down screaming our faces off at the end. And then we grab another King book and hope the ride is just as thrilling as the one before.

I'm looking at you, Doctor Sleep.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,965 followers
July 30, 2015
Even though the film version of this one from Stanley Kubrick is generally considered a horror classic, Stephen King has never been shy about making his dislike of it known. He hates it so much that he was heavily involved in making a more faithful adaptation of it as TV mini-series in 1997. (This inferior version invited comparisons of Stephen Weber from Wings to one of Jack Nicholson’s most iconic performances. So that worked well….)

Considering Uncle Stevie’s longstanding grudge about it, I was more than a little shocked when he recently made a public plea for fans of Under the Dome to accept the changes that the new TV show was making. I can’t quite wrap my head around why a genius director creating something new and brilliant based on his story is bad, but anything that a fairly shitty TV show does with the source material is A-OK with King?


On to the book. As most everyone knows, this is about a family spending the winter in a haunted hotel in the Rocky Mountains called the Overlook. Jack Torrance was a teacher and promising writer, but his alcoholism and short temper wrecked his career and very nearly ended his marriage. Jack has been sober over a year, and he and Wendy have started down the path of reconciliation. However, she can never entirely forgive him for breaking the arm of their son Danny in an incident that was equal parts rage and accident. Five year old Danny has psychic mojo that includes reading thoughts and precognition courtesy of visions shown to him by his imaginary friend, Tony.

Nearly broke, Jack takes on the job of being the winter caretaker for the Overlook. This means that the family will spend months alone in the hotel once the snow flies, and the last caretaker went axe-happy and killed his family. Unfortunately, the Overlook is like an emotional sponge that has soaked in every ugly act that ever took place within its rooms, and the presence of a high-powered psychic like Danny kicks the place into overdrive. As Jack is being driven into madness, Wendy and Danny become increasingly terrified of what he might do.

I once read something in which King talked about denial of his own substance abuse problems in which he noted that he somehow wrote The Shining without ever once realizing he was describing his own alcoholism. That element of the Jack Torrence character is what makes this one of his better books. The idea of being trapped in a hotel with a bunch of ghosts is scary in a horror story kind of way. The idea of being trapped in a hotel with an ill-tempered drunk with a history of violence as he is cracking up is downright terrifying.

Adding even more weight to that idea is that Jack Torrance isn’t a monster. He’s a troubled man who does love his wife and son, and he’s self-aware enough to realize that he’s on the brink. He’ll either turn his life around and earn his wife’s trust back, or he’ll give in to his own worst impulses. This would be hard enough under any circumstances, but under the influence of the evil spirits of the Overlook, Jack becomes a tragedy.

Another element jumped out at me while re-reading this time. King talked in his non-fiction Danse Macabre (Which I remember as being entertaining, but probably very dated by now. I would be very interested if Uncle Stevie wanted to take another look at what’s become of the horror genre since he wrote that one.) about the economic factor of The Amityville Horror and how a part of why the movie worked was that the family was essentially trapped by their finances.

He uses that idea to good effect here. Most people would run screaming from the Overloook in less than a week, but we’re frequently reminded that the Torrance family was swirling the drain financially. If the perception is that Jack botched this job, his last chance to get back to a more stable lifestyle is probably shot and that goes a long way towards allowing him to convince himself and Wendy that they’re overreacting to the weird occurrences during the early stages, and by the time they’ve become snowed in, the Overlook has its hooks deep into Jack.

It’s those more mundane things like a family struggling with money and that an evil entity turns one of them against the others by playing on his inherent weaknesses that make this one of my favorite King novels.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,619 reviews985 followers
July 21, 2021
Constant Readers may well be surprised, but even after a second reading, this remains one of my least liked early Stephen King reads! This perception is also probably influenced by the far better and classic Stanley Kubrick/Jack Nicholson movie, which I feel is more grounded and a lot less supernatural based than the book. A personal admission I should add for context, is that I find most ghost stories unfathomable because of their reality 'rules' often being bent ad-hoc to meet the needs of the story being told... just like in this book. 5.5 out of 12!
Profile Image for Annemarie.
250 reviews696 followers
October 24, 2018
Actual rating: 4.25 🌟

Obviously this story is a famous one, which led to me not being all too surprised at the things that happened, but this doesn't mean that reading this book wasn't exciting and didn't keep me on the edge of my seat. In fact, the suspense is spread in the right amount of doses throughout the book, which is something I would love to see more often. I read many stories where one thrilling thing happens after another, which just gets repetitive after awhile and takes away from the excitement. King, however, knows how to keep you hooked without ever going over the top.
Despite my copy having over 600 pages, I felt entertained throughout and was never bored. This is how suspense is supposed to be written.

Obviously, many strange things happen in this story. Many of them might even seem completely unbelievable and ridiculous. But once again, King has a way of writing that makes everything sound like they could actually happen. I don't know how he does it, but every time I read something by him I think to myself:"Yeah sure, of course this is plausible. Of course this can be a thing."
No matter how out of this world the plot may seem.

I really liked how every character in this book had a distinctive voice, even though there were many changes of the point of view. This shows what great and realistic characters Stephen King creates every time. Especially the main character Jack struck a chord with me, even though I am nothing like him. But there was just something about him...I don't know how to describe it, but he was written in a way that made all his actions seem somehow comprehensible, no matter how shocking they might have been.

Of course everybody reads a book differently and interprets it in their own way. For me, this wasn't just a simple ghost story. For me, it was about a man coming to terms with his own demons more than ever before, and finally facing up to something he has lost control over a long time ago.
The only reason this book doesn't get the full five stars from me, is because I didn't get lost in this world as much as I did in the other works by the same author.
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