Book Review: The Shining by Stephen King

11588Title: The Shining

Author: Stephen King

Genre: Horror

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4,5 stars

Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr Halloran he was a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of an the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control.

As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of its own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive?

Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel – and that too had begun to shine…

The Shining is Stephen King’s most well-known novel, and there’s a reason for that. The story is haunting from start to end, a mix of psychological thriller and supernatural horror that blends nicely into a terrifying story. Jack Torrance is a man who’s life started out promising but ended in a spiral of bad luck and bad choices. He’s a recovering alcoholic, an author who hasn’t penned a decent story in God knows how long, a teacher who was fired for harming a student. Nothing in his life is going the way he’s planned. Even his son, little Danny, is a failure, hearing voices that aren’t there and predicting the future with a startling accuracy.

But Jack makes due with what he has, and when money worries rise, he takes on a job as caretaker for the Overlook Hotel. The Overlook is a gigantic, classy hotel situated in the mountains. Every winter, the hotel closes since the weather gets so bad no one can make it to the hotel either way. It’s during these closing months that Jack and his family will take care of the Overlook, make sure the boiler doesn’t heat up and explode, fix some smaller things on the roof and building, and in general get paid to do very little to nothing.

But of course things don’t work out that way. From the moment Danny sets foot in the Overlook, he knows something is wrong. In the presidential suite, blood stains appear on one of the doors. There’s a room that gives him the chills when he passes it by, and he’s almost certain something bad happened there. Mr. Halloran, who works at the Overlook during summer, warns Danny about the evil spirits lingering in the hotel, and tells him that if something bad happens he has to shout really hard in his head. Then Mr. Halloran will come first chance he gets.

Danny tells himself nothing bad will happen, not even when a bee hive his Dad brought down, supposedly dead, comes back to life in the middle of the night. Not even when he stands face to face with a bloated, rotten corpse in the “forbidden” room. Not even when his Dad starts acting weird, or when he’s chased by something not entirely human on the playground. But before long, Danny is forced to face the truth: the Overlook isn’t planning to let them escape. It likes its new hostages, especially Danny, and wants to keep them there for all eternity…

The Shining is a ghost story told the way it should be. The characters are strong and endaring, all in their own right. I actually really like Jack Torrance. He has personality, plenty of flaws, and he’s just like every John Doe next door. Stephen King does an excellent job describing Jack’s descent into madness. Danny is another great character. He’s timid and shy and a small kid, but at the same time he’s the most powerful of all characters, with a gift that might be their only chance to escape.

And then of course, the most interesting character of all. The Overlook. Because the way Stephen King describes the hotel, it’s not just a hotel. It’s a person, a living and breathing thing with as sole desire to make sure the Torrances never leave.

Suspenseful from the get-go, thrilling and terrifying, this is a great novel. I want to see the movie now, but hope that won’t be a dissapointment. This is my first full-length novel read by Stephen King, and I can’t wait to dive into another one of his works soon.


  1. Made me want to read this again. It’s been a long time. Thanks.

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