Book Review: The Shining

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

I knew I wanted to read at least one horror book during spooky season and what better choice to fit the cause than Stephen King’s classic? Of course I had heard of The Shining growing up, but I didn’t actually know anything about the plot. Yes, I’ve seen images of those creepy twins and watched Jack Nicholson’s iconic “Here’s Johnny!” scene from the movie, but those snippets were the only things that shaped any expectations I had for the book. Turns out, neither of those scenes are in the book, so it didn’t matter anyways. The Shining been on my TBR list ever since I read IT back in high school and let me tell you: it is well worth the hype.

The book has the classic ingredients for a riveting horror story. Haunted hotel? Check. Sinister child? Check. Highly questionable decision making? Check, check, check. But The Shining is so much more than a standard horror or thriller novel. Every little detail serves a purpose and plays a crucial part in the build-up of suspense. The characterization is incredible – King has this way of diving into his characters’ psyches and creating such an intimate focus on their psychology and motivations. He puts their humanity on display, making them endearing and easy to root for, and I rooted for each and every one of them. His portrayal of Jack’s descent into insanity is built up beautifully from the first page of the book up to the thrilling denouement. This is aided through motifs interspersed throughout the story which slowly become more explicitly menacing as time goes on. The narrator also contributes significantly to the spook factor. The Shining is told in third person but the narrator is evidently unreliable – the prose is riddled with textual interjections, illustrative of the intrusive thoughts that pervade the characters’ minds and ultimately lead to their predicament.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Shining – it did take me longer than expected to finish but that was simply because I avoided reading it at night, which happens to be when I do the most of my reading. I am in awe of King’s writing – his ability to create tension is unparalleled and I’m already debating which one of his books to read next. If you have any recommendations or favorites, feel free to drop them in the comments!

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