Posted in reviews

redrum…the shining (review)

Hey y’all!

I read The Shining by Stephen King for The Late Night Book Club’s January pick, and I have some thoughts.

Before we get started with my thoughts, we need to talk about the content warnings. There are a LOT of not okay things said within this book. If you’ve read Stephen King’s old books, you may know that he had a certain affinity towards the N-word; I am unsure if he continues this trend in his current work as I have only read novels from the 70’s and 80’s. Below is a full list of CWs. 

CW: Ableism (slurs) , Alcoholism, Child Abuse, Domestic Abuse, Racism (slurs), Racial Slurs, Violence, Death, Murder, Sexism/Misogyny, Homophobia 

Synopsis: Recovering Alcoholic, Jack Torrance gets the opportunity to turn his and his family’s lives around by becoming the new off-season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel. Jack and his wife, Wendy, think that this is going to be a great experience– a whole winter in a hotel all to themselves sounds like the best way to rebuild their family, right? Danny, their child, isn’t so sure. Before they even arrive, he feels this is going to be a bad call for them….how right he was. 

My Thoughts: I feel like this book is really hard to analyze. I don’t know why, but there were just so many parts and so many things that I could discuss but they are technically spoilers. I have always done my best to keep my reviews spoiler free, so let’s see how I do here. 

Let’s start with the characters. 

Jack Torrance is an arrogant man who quite obviously hates the direction his life has gone in and is doing what he can to correct it. Unfortunately, he attempts to do this entirely on his own which leads to a disconnect between him and Wendy. I will say the alcoholism representation is the most accurate that I have seen, and growing up with alcoholism as a prevalent part of my family dynamic. He places a lot of blame on to Wendy and Danny because his addiction forces him to view them as outsiders and like they don’t understand him. This is, again, consistent with the alcohism representation, as addiction of all kinds aims to isolate the addicted from those that love them. Because King is an absolute genius, this is precisely what happens with Jack and the Overlook Hotel. I could write about this forever, but I won’t because spoilers. Essentially, there is a battle constsantly occuring in Jack’s mind of him being a loving father and husband and him wanting to be left alone to his own devices to succumb to his addiction. 

Wendy as a character wasn’t as developed as I would have liked– I mean she was very developed, but not as much as any other character. The entirity of Wendy’s character was tied to her being Danny’s mother and Jack’s wife. What I found interesting about the characterization of Danny’s parents were that they each felt like the other had a more special connection to Danny. Wendy was always so jealous of Jack and Danny’s relationship and saying that she felt like an outsider with them. Jack, towards the end of the novel, felt the same, that Danny and Wendy were ganging up on him, so to speak. 

Danny was, of course, the most intriguing character. Being 5 years old, he has a limited perspective of the world, but that was the very thing that allowed him to see the Overlook so clearly. His “shine” was obviously a major part of that, but he was somehow able to see the hotel as an autonomous being despite having the adults in his life tell him it can’t possibly be the case. His childlike wonder coupled with his “shine” gave him abilities never before seen, but it is also his curse. Danny has the interesting role of being both the protagonist and the driving force for the story whereas most of the time, the driving force is something that happens to the main character, not something they themselves did or even are. 

Onto the writing.  

I would include a designated section for to discuss the plot, but there is very little way of discussing the plot in depth without spoiling it. Stephen King has a way of making every event occuring in a chain so they all feed into and affect each other. From before the Torrances even arrive at the Overlook to the end scene, everything was expertly planned so the audience knows exactlty why each charatcer performed each action. It provides a level of depth to each character that I have only seen in Stephen King novels.

Of course, the dated writing style does need to be addressed in greater depth. King had (I can’t speak to his current writing style as I haven’t read any of his new works) a consistent usage of the N-word and other slurs and racist/ableist/homophobic language within his books, specifically those written in the 70’s and 80’s. These stylistic options, if that is what they can be called, are no longer anything we, as an audience, will tolerate anymore. It never should have been tolerated in the first place, but it absolutely isn’t now. Again, I am unsure of whether or not these choices have continued in recent years, and I will do my research on this.

Overall, my experience with The Shining was incredible for a horror novel. I was terrified the whole time out of sheer anticipation. 4.5 stars.

Have you read this? If you read King, what is your favorite? Let me know !

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Hey y'all. I'm ej, a 20 year old, book lover and occassional blogger.

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