Book Review: The Shining by Stephen King
October 21, 2015 | 11:44 AM
by Cyril Antony George
Photo: Supplied

What makes a great book? Some say it is the degree of empathy that the author draws from you. Others feel it is the emotional connect you make with the characters in the book. Another definition I make is if a book inspires you to write something on your own then it enters the privileged world of great literature.

A great book is something that you can’t put down and makes you give it a place in your thoughts for the rest of your life. The Shining is all this and more.

The Shining was not the first Stephen King book I read. Cujo and Pet Sematary came earlier. But The Shining made me feel that Stephen King is the best horror fiction writer in the world. No one else makes you hesitate to walk to the toilet at the end of the corridor in the middle of the night the way King does.

King’s choice of character is master class. The characters in the story are six-year-old Daniel Torrence, his mother Wendy, and father Jack. Jack is the guy we all know who has it in him to be more than what he is but loses it all to his anger and falls prey to alcohol.

Wendy is weak and small to Jack’s rage and masked insecurity. The only man in the family is little Danny. And he has to pit his might against an enemy that can terrorise even an adult.

Danny is not a normal child and possesses a gift called the ‘Shining’. Danny is psychic and can see into the future and feel out past events. When Jack loses his teaching job at the school he takes up a temporary position as a winter caretaker of a luxurious hotel located in the wilderness of the Colorado Rockies, The Overlook.

Jack and Wendy are delighted at the prospect of spending a few months in the hotel which will remain cut off from the world during the winter. Wendy believes Jack can complete his play and become a famous author and Jack wants to prove that he can stay off alcohol and do something worthwhile.

Only Danny knows that The Overlook is evil and that Jack has not selected the job at the ‘Overlook’ as caretaker. Rather the ‘Overlook’ has selected his family with malevolent intention because of Danny’s psychic ability. Incidents start happening that are temporary blips on the picture perfect family.

Like a rack, events stack up against Danny and his family. The pressure builds up inexorably with a sense of eventual doom. Since 1977, when this book was first published, Stephen King lives in the minds of hotel guests forever.

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