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VINE VOICEon 1 November 2006
Browsing through "1001 Books you must read before you die" - it was something of a surprise to find The Shining listed, when so much of Stephen King's work is dismissed by critics. But what a revelation the book is, and I'm glad I read it. This really is superior horror material, crafted to keep the pages turning. Over-shadowed by the film (which King himself didn't like) - the novel is a deeper, scarier experience, a fine example of the skill of wonderful storytelling. In a specially written introduction for this edition of The Shining, King reveals this was the book that took him in a different direction - where the characters are all the more scary because their demons are real as well as imagined. Compelling.
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on 29 November 2007
It all started when I saw the music video 'The Kill' by 30 Seconds To Mars (on You Tube), realised it was based on The Shining and decided I had to have a read of the book itself to see what it was all about. How's that for joined up thinking!

Apparently Stephen King thought up the storyline for The Shining when he went on an impromptu holiday with his wife to a hotel in Colorado. The hotel was closing down for the season and King and his wife were the only two people there. The eerie surroundings and long empty corridors gave King the ideas for his book.

The book is really well written. I love the way a character will say something and then King writes what they are really/subconsicously thinking in italics underneath. It gives you a lot more insight into what's happening. The characters are instantly believable and you can really feel for them - to me that's always the sign of a good book. You get so engrossed in the story, you forget everything else while you're reading. I'd thoroughly recommend this book. Enjoy!
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Twenty-seven years after its publication, The Shining remains a visceral, gripping read that showcases Stephen King's unfathomable powers to hypnotize and terrify readers, a power King had in abundance in the early stages of his career. Coming on the heels of Carrie and 'Salem's Lot, The Shining truly established King as a modern master of horror and an unequalled purveyor of a literary mirror into pop culture. If you've only seen the original movie starring Jack Nicholson, you really owe it to yourself to read the novel; Stanley Kubrick made a fine and scary movie, but he did not capture the essence of King's story, and his dramatization followed a different path than what you find in the original vision brought to life through the words of King. The more recent miniseries was more faithful to the novel, but it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that a made-for-TV dramatization is limited in terms of what it can get away with in a number of important areas. Simply put, The Shining stands just behind Shirley Jackson's The House on Haunted Hill as one of the best "haunted house" novels ever written.
The plot should be quite familiar to one and all by this point. The Torrance family embarks on a months-long retreat into complete isolation when Jack Torrance signs on to be the winter custodian of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. Jack takes some personal demons with him to a hotel chock-full of malevolent, ghostly spirits; he is a recovering alcoholic who, in the last couple of years, lost his job and broke his little boy's arm in a state of drunken fury. He thinks the months alone with his wife and son will allow him to find peace - and to finally finish the play he has been working on. His long-suffering wife has some misgivings, but the only person really clued into the dreadful possibilities is his son Danny. Danny has "the shine," a gift which allows him to see and know things he cannot possibly know; it is a powerful gift which the Overlook (which really is an entity unto itself) jealously desires for itself.
As the days pass, the Overlook exerts more and more of an influence on Jack, exploiting his weaknesses, exacerbating his paranoia and persecution complex, and basically turning him into a murderous new tool at the hotel's disposal. Danny sees what is happening, although he cannot really understand much of it given his very young age. He can certainly understand the terror of the Overlook, however, as he sees images of the hotel's murderous past and very dark near future in a number of unsettling scenes interspersed throughout the novel. This is a harrowing tale of survival against incredible odds of a supernatural nature, and King brings every nuance of the story to vivid life, capturing perfectly the internalization and externalization of fear among exceedingly real, believable characters that the reader gets to know very well indeed. As has always been the case with Stephen King, it is his incomparable powers of characterization that make the supernatural elements of his story work so amazingly well. You can't help but be emotionally committed to these characters.
The Shining really isn't one of my all-time favorite Stephen King novels, but it is exceedingly well crafted and features some of the most harrowing scenes to be found in King's immense body of work. Even though I had read the novel before and was quite familiar with the story in both its literary and cinematic manifestations, I was completely caught up in the story as I re-read it - to the point that I found myself flipping the pages faster than I normally do for a novel completely new to me. When you talk about the seminal works of modern horror, you have to talk about The Shining - it's just that good a read.
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on 6 February 2017
One of the novels on which Stephen King's reputation and some would argue his legacy rest on. The classic Gothic troupe of a family trapped in the desolate Overlook Hotel during the winter season becomes a nightmare for the Torrance family as the hotels past returns to haunt them. There are some obvious Freudian elements in The Shining, the repressed past returning, the Oedipus complex between Danny and Jack as the traditional image of a young woman being chased by some evil entity is replaced by a father and son battle in the corridors of the Overlook Hotel. And of course there are some disturbing and terrifying scenes as you would expect from King. A Great Gothic novel.
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on 27 October 2003
In all the books I've read in my time, 'The Shining' has to be rated as the best. The combination of Stephen King's literary superiority and horrifying imagination produce a scarily good result.
In The Shining we follow Jack Torrance who takes over as caretaker of the Overlook hotel for the winter, where only he and his family will stay as blizzards enclose the hotel. But his son, Danny is having strange visions, and the hotel itself is eerily odd.
From the story we learn about Danny, and his nightmarish visions, but the novel begins to get really scary when his father Jack, who doesn't have any psychic ability, starts seeing things too. I used to read this book at night before going to sleep, and after I'd put down the book and turned out the light, my heart would continue to pound in my chest...such is the quality of the suspense and horror.
But don't be fooled by the movie version with Jack Nicholson. Despite Nicholson's fantastic performance as Torrance, the movie is a gross miscarriage of the book, and omits 70% of the book's story. The famous 'Here's Johnny' line isn't even in the book...it's just in the film.
Above all else, you must read this book, even if you've seen the film. But be warned...once you have reached the part where Torrance enters room 217...is the part where things really start to get scary.
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on 4 August 2001
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is easily one of the greatest horror movies of the 20th century. I love that film with a passion but the book is something all together different. Much of the story was not used for the film so a lot will come as a suprise. For those of you who don't know the plot Jack Torrence gets himself a caretaker job in the Overlook Hotel. He takes his wife Wendy and son Danny to stay up there throughout the harsh winter. Over the course of their stay they are terrorised by the ghosts of former residents at the Overlook caused by the special gift Danny has. He shines, which basically means he is psychic, can tell whats going to happen before it happens and can see things others cannot. This book is absolutely brilliant. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of horror because it won't ever get this good again.
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on 14 March 2017
The Shining is one of Stephen King's most famous novels, so many new to King may automatically plump for this one. There's little doubt in my mind that this story brilliantly weaves the paranormal and psychic abilities of young Danny, who has the 'shining' ability of the title with the real issues of a marriage that on the surface appears to be okay, but there is a bubbling undercurrent about what Wendy really thinks of John 'Jack' Torrance.

As so many have reviewed this book already, I will mention what you already know - Stanley Kubrick's film is probably far more famous. As an iconic horror, there are fewer scarier films out there than The Shining.

Kubrick took elements of the book and made them huge in the film. So whether you read the book first, or have seen the film first, I think you can appreciate them both for what they are.

I think the character in the book is slightly more sympathetic, but I lost patience with Jack the more he seemed to chance his arm, thumbing his nose at current employers (and I mean Ullmann and Shockley, not the 'employers' at the Overlook as implied in the book's final third).

To really enjoy this book, one almost has to forget about the film. Having said all that, this is not one of Stephen King's greatest novels. It is an intriguing work and set the ground for (in my view) even better novels such as The Dark Half, Misery, Desperation, and my personal favourite - Pet Semetary.

The book could have done with a trim, but I really do enjoy King's word creation, complex characters, and genius storytelling. There's a reason why Stephen King is viewed as one of the world's greatest ever writers, and The Shining is choc full of them. It says a lot that it is not perfect in my view only because I know he has done better. But on its own, it is a brilliant story, and re-reading this two years or so after I read the sequel, Doctor Sleep, I appreciate it all the more.
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on 29 October 2016
I had been toying with the idea of reading this book for quite some time before I actually picked it up. I have been a fan of the film adaptation for a while now and with Halloween fast approaching I thought this was the perfect time of year. I have only read two other King novels previous to The Shining and I've enjoyed his writing style.

I found the first 30ish pages seemed to take me FOREVER to read. In fact, I was very close to giving up as I was convinced it would end up taking me weeks to finish this book having only succeeded with a few chapters in a few hours. However, knowing how much I enjoyed the movie and that things were sure to pick up pace, I stuck with it. Little did I realise how addictive this book was going to be. One minute I was on page 33, a couple of hours later I had read over 200 pages. Then I ended up sat late into the night to get it finished.

Despite the slow start and a few chapters which felt a little irrelevant, this suspense and horror build beautifully in this book. King really is a master of suspense. I loved how, as readers, we subtly detect the changes in Jack's personality as the Overlook starts to take hold of him. The constant wiping of his lip, the muttering to himself, the vivid visions he has of the murder of his wife and son. These build slowly over time and lead us to a hell of a conclusion at the end.

I liked the family dynamic in this book. They were by no means an ideal family at all but a family who were fighting for each other. Even at the very end, Danny does not want to give up on his Daddy. I liked Danny as a character and I was interested by the concept of his 'shine', although I did frequently forget that he was supposed to be five years old. There was a huge amount of dialogue with Danny in the book which I wasn't expecting as he is more quiet in the movie.

This book is full of plenty of creepy scenes and definitely gave me those horrible shivers down my spine at times. All in all this was a great book and I can see why it is such a popular read. With The Shining, King has created a terrifyingly horrific story that will stay with me for a long time.
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on 11 January 2014
I avoided Stephen King for nearly forty years because, snobbishly, I believed him to be 'just' a horror writer. Despite the exhortations of three of my well read children, I stubbornly refused to read anything he had written. I finally gave in and read '11.22.63' and the result? Totally hooked. He is a man who can bring a character alive in just a few strokes of his pen, an author who can pin you to the back of your chair until you have finished. 'The Shining' is a remarkable book, totally stunning. There's horror, yes, but real vulnerable people faced with credible horrors, some of their own making, some in the creative mind of this man of great talent - The hotel, the snow, the lift, the hedge animals, little Danny with his psychic gift... read it as soon as you can. And if you haven't read Stephen King before, throw away your prejudices before you start.
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on 9 June 2014
How many times do you find that the book is much better than the film? I thought it would be hard to beat the film of The Shining, but whilst the film is still an absolute classic, the book goes one better. Of course the basic story line is all there, but the book is quite different: if you think there's no point reading the book because you've seen the film so many times, think again. There's so much more insight into the characters and the background to the tale. I'm going to be moving on shortly to the book versions of the other King movie classics - go buy this book, it's a great read.
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