“The Shining” is a classic and it deserves all the credit that it gets. Stephen King himself believes that he was able to take Jack Torrance to a whole new level of frightening because he was so real. The alcoholic who was raised by an alcoholic – a loving father and husband one minute and an abusive bastard the next. This was not the first time that I have read “The Shining” but with the sequel coming out (September 27) I wanted to recapture and relive the horror.
It’s hard to say what it is that makes “The Shining” so frightening. There are many aspects of the book that help build up suspense. You have the flashbacks to Jack’s drinking days, both from his perspective and Wendy’s. Then Wendy frequently turns her mind to the Donner party when she thinks of them snowed in at the hotel. In addition to both adults having paranoid moments, Danny has Tony warning him before they even get to the hotel.
Danny’s dis-trustfulness about the Overlook hotel is obvious to any adult willing to look at him long enough. Dick Halloran tries to get Danny to go to Florida with him in a joking manner, but at the same time he is serious. Dick is the one who explains to Danny what ‘the shining’ is and he also gives him some warnings about the hotel. Dick tells Danny to stay away from room 217. He also gives Danny the advice to close his eyes when he sees something scary and it should go away. Wendy also at one point asks Danny if he wants to go stay someplace else for the winter. There are so many warnings in the beginning, but the Torrance family is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Jack needs the job at the Overlook and the only other option Wendy has for a place to live would be with her mother. Something that leaves an awful taste in her mouth. Not to mention Danny expressing his extreme unhappiness at the thought.
Their stay starts out uneventful enough and Wendy thinks that this is just what the family needed. A fresh start away from everyone else. A place for Jack to work on his play. Danny is learning how to read and is desperate to do so. Wendy thinks this is because he wants to win his father’s approval and while that is part of it, he also is desperate to know what some of the signs are that Tony shows him sometimes. Most of all, Danny wants to know what Redrum is, even though he is very afraid of it.
Stephen King is a masterful storyteller. He is able to take truth and fiction and weave it all together to make a terrifying story. “The Shining” is a wonderful book and a must-read for any fan of the thriller/horror genre.