Oh, dudes, The Shining. I didn’t realize how much I’d forgotten about this book. It’s likely that because I’ve seen the movie so many times, I was remembering bits from the movie and thinking they were from the book. But honestly, no justice done to the original story. As much as I love Kubrick (I could write a whole separate post on his insanity, especially while filming this movie… maybe I’ll do that, actually.) and his work on The Shining, I have to look at it as a separate entity. Because it really captures something totally different than the book intended.
At least that’s how I feel. There are so many little nuances in this book that are super powerful. The biggest one being that I’d totally forgotten that Jack is actually a decent person on the inside. He had his bout with alcoholism, made some mistakes, but is trying so hard to be a good father, and loves his family. It’s not until pretty far in the book that the hotel starts to really cloud his mind, and even then he fights it until it manages to take over completely. It’s a gradual process, and by the time he’s batshit crazy I felt genuinely upset and terrified that this man could become so evil.
And Wendy! I had this image in my head of a mousy little pushover, but she’s actually extremely likeable in the book. She does what she can, and though she has a few faults, she recognizes them and tries to work at them. She’s a really awesome wife and mother.
Which brings us to little Danny. Having recently read Doctor Sleep, it was awesome to go from adult Danny to five year old Danny. And it is fucking amazing how, after all these years, King still managed to write in this kid’s voice. Because it wasn’t jarring at all to move backwards in time. It was without a doubt believable that this kid is where the adult from Doctor Sleep came from. Kudos to you, Mr. King, for being so in touch with your characters that you can do a sequel almost forty years later and have it flow so well.
Anyway, this kid is amazing. I know I said it about Mark Petrie in Salem’s Lot too, but King really has a knack writing believable and interesting intelligent little kids. And this one is definitely interesting, with his ‘shining’. I could have read the book completely through his eyes and had it still be as mature and intense as it was. Most people have trouble making child characters interesting and/or not annoying, but this kid is amazing.
For the Dark Tower Fans: No massive DT feelings in this story, except that my boyfriend pointed out that every time Tony shows Danny things, it’s pretty much going Todash. So, maybe Tony is a projection of someone that has their hands on one of the wizard balls? Wouldn’t it be cool if Tony was actually Jake, reaching through Black Thirteen to help a fellow kid escape certain death? Whooooaaa man.
Fear Factor: Fucking scary. Yup, I admit it. I was glad I wasn’t alone while reading this at nighttime. I often yelled at the characters in the book, out loud, not to do things that I knew they were going to do. My boyfriend made fun of me. Yup.
I need to take a moment here, on the subject of Stephen King’s ability to weave terror tales, is that he is one of the most subtle authors about it. Yes, his books are marketed as horror, and most people know that Stephen King = Creepy. But I find in most of his tales, it’s a very subtle, under-the-covers kind of horror. I mean, obviously the main theme of this book is a hotel filled with angry spirits trying to possess a man to kill his family. But it’s all the little things.
Things don’t jump out at you in this book. They’re just evil, and you can feel it constantly. You feel like you’re trapped in the hotel, trying desperately not to get choked to death by long dead naked old hags in the bathtub. Graahhhh.
“This inhuman place makes human monsters.” –The Shining, Stephen King, 1977