Required Reading: October – The Shining

There is something you should probably know about me: I hate any horror filled related thing. Now here’s to say that I just don’t find the idea of scaring myself a great thing to do, I’d rather spend my times doing other activities or even sleeping honestly. So then why pick Stephan King’s, The Shining? Well I thought it would be a thrilling book that’s fitted for Halloween and honestly, a book scaring someone? Yeah Right! Well that’s what I thought but we’ll get to that in a bit, let’s just get the quicky review out.

I thought the book started out fairly slow, which was a bit of a bore honestly, I don’t think I got into it until I hit page 100 or around there. As the narration goes it’s in third person narrative but focalizes on usually three but sometimes a fourth character. Throughout the story the narration usually cycles between the different POVs of Jack Torrance (husband), Wendy Torrance (wife), and Danny Torrance (their son). The fourth character that gets some narrative action near the end is Dick Hallorann (the hotel cook).

The story opens up with Jack talking to the hotel manager of The Overlook (the hotel) figuring out the details of his new job. We learn early on that Jack has gotten himself into some trouble during his last teaching job that got him fired as well as him having some underlining family turbulence with Wendy and Danny. I wont say any details so don’t worry no spoilers here. Nonetheless Jack needs a job and his old friend (used to be drinking buddy Al) hooks him up as a caretaker of this old hotel, The Overlook, for the winter until guests are able to stay in it again. By the way all this information cycles itself throughout the novel and is the core of Jack’s psychological turn.

I guess the only other aspects you might want to know is that Danny has some supernatural abilities that basically creates the suspense and, in my opinion, the real terrifying elements of the story. The Overlook has an interesting history and the longer the family stays there and unravels its mysteries the more they unravel as well.

What I found amazing about this book was that it was actually able to scare the living shit out of me (I use that metaphorically because I didn’t actually shit my pants reading this book but it was frightening). The concept of a book, just plain old written words, having the effect to make someone anxious, starts to sweat, and fear the noises around them is amazing. I can understand how a movie, play, or music can induce such a feeling, because it creates an atmosphere. Visually you are put in a dark place where the music starts to become deep and intense where you just know some idiot girl dressed in almost nothing is about to die. Visually a movie can have a jump out feeling that startles an audience or can even put you in an eerie spaced filled with silence – that’s when you know some bad shit is really going down; but you see, a book can’t do that, a book is just paper filled with inked words on a page so how can you scare someone in a novel? That’s the fascinating question.

My quicky answer is that when novels, such as The Shining, start to become frightening for the reader is when the atmosphere has already been set long before the author tries to induce fear. So in the case of the book, we know the hotel’s horrible past before the Torrances move in, we know of Danny’s supernatural powers, and Stephan King has already described our surrounding in the hotel space – establishing that quiet and eerie feeling that’s needed. Then when things start to really get frightening, for my reading, was near pages 370-400, where King doesn’t take the time to describe the horrors that Danny and Jack see/feel; King builds up their experience by slowly taking the reader through the atmosphere and then when the frightening parts appear he tosses exposition and gives you the scene through small sound-bites or clips that the characters go through. This emersion in the action or in the mind of the character is what takes a reader to a frightening event and what ultimately creates those fight or flight responses.

And there you have it folks, my semi-quicky-spoiler-free review. Overall I would give this book an 8 out of 10 because it was entertaining and it was able to scare me (not as much as I hoped for though).

Also P.S. the book doesn’t have the famous line “HERE’SSSS JOHNNNNY” in it like the movie does so don’t get tripped up over that like I did, I felt like I was looking for that line in the whole book. Tiffanie and I also plan on watching the movie on Halloween, since we both haven’t seen it, so next Friday I’ll write up a movie review about that.

As always, best wishes and have a great day!

Sincerely,

Miranda

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