The Shining

By Stephen King

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Pocket Books, c 1977, 2001

Genre: Horror

ISBN: 9781439570616

Audience: Adult

Number of pages: 683

Settings: The Overlook Hotel & Boulder, CO, Stovington, VT, St. Petersburg, FL

Time period: Late 1970s

Plot summary: Jack Torrance has made mistakes in life – most recently, losing his job at an elite New England prep school.  As a result, he is determined to take the job he is offered as a winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in Colorado.  It will be a new start for his family and the job should give him time to finish writing the play he started.  Unfortunately, the hotel is haunted and Jack’s five year old son, Danny, knows it.  Danny has “the shine” and knows things that others do not.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Very fast paced

Characterization: The story is told in third person through various perspectives.  The primary viewpoints are from Danny,  Jack , and Wendy.

Frame: The quotes King includes prior to the start of the story set the frame.  One is a folk saying; the others are by Edgar Allen Poe and Goya.  They frame the story in opposites – terror and gaiety, darkness and light.

Story line: A dark, creepy story which examines the perils of knowing the future and not being able to change it.

Subject headings:

From Pima County Public Library:

Hotelkeepers — Colorado — Fiction.

Family — Colorado — Fiction.

Hotels — Colorado — Fiction.

Demonology — Fiction.

Authors — Fiction.

Occult fiction.

Horror fiction.

Similar authors:

Dean Koontz

John Saul

Peter Straub

Personal notes:  I really enjoyed reading this book in spite of having seen the movie at least twice.  I thought the book was creepier than the movie – the sense of dread is greater due to a better understanding of the characters.  I liked the ending of the book much better than the movie.  I also thought that the hedge animals were scarier than the maze.  I’m guessing that Kubrick changed this part of the story because the special effects were much more limited at the time the film was made.  The movie was mostly true to the book.

Other: Diversity – telepaths, ghosts, evil spirits, alcoholics, Black man

Stephen King’s website

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