After listening to the Read or Dead podcast episode dedicated to Stephen King, I knew I had to FINALLY read my first novel by the King of Horror. Basically, if you know me at all, you know I love all things creepy. If you don’t know me…well, that’s probably all you need to know to understand my book choices.
If you’re sipping along at home, we’re having…REDRUM. Okay, so they’re actually strawberry daiquiris, but they’re red and they have rum, so it works! I’m mixing mine up like my father-in-law taught me… frozen strawberries, a little simple syrup, and Myers dark rum. Bonus points if you make homemade whipped cream to top it off!
After getting fired from his old position as a professor, Jack Torrance is looking for a fresh start and place to begin working on his novel. Enter the Overlook Hotel, looking for an off-season caretaker. In a seemingly idyllic location, the hotel will be completely secluded as winter settles in, leaving Jack, his wife Wendy, and his son Danny completely alone. Danny is a special boy, having a special set of skills that the Overlook’s chef Hallorann refers to as the shining (I seriously love it when the book title is explicitly written in the story…it’s the little things in life), making him able to read minds and experience premonitions. When they first arrive, they are seemingly living in bliss…well, the parents, anyway. Danny keeps seeing ghosts and having terrifying visions, but knows that the job is important to his family so he keeps quiet. Over time, things begin to turn sinister. *Dun dun dunnnn*
My first experience with The Shining was actually watching the movie (don’t hate me, book fam…I didn’t know it was a book until it was too late!) and coincidentally is one of my favorites to date–ironic because Stephen King himself absolutely despises the movie…whoops. It’s ominous, the sense of dread slowly builds, and just thinking thinking about Jack and the ax gives me nightmares.
What I think I enjoyed the most about this book was how much it differed from the movie. While the general premise remains the same (Torrence fam goes to the Overlook, Danny has superpowers, and Daddy goes crazy…you know, the usual) , the movie basically paints Jack as an innately evil person (like, he is so creepy, even at the start of the movie) while the book creates a more sympathetic (?) character. Yeah, he still does some awful things and I wouldn’t say he’s a good guy, but he’s not that bad. I would actually say the character development is what made me love this book so much because they are so complex, and don’t necessarily fit the archetype of horror characters.
I’m not gonna lie…I can now see why Joey hid the book in the freezer. Don’t read this at home… by yourself….on a dark and stormy night…when your dog decides to bark at the door going to your basement and scare you half to death. Seriously, you’ve been warned. (Side note: Ramsey would make a horrible attack dog. All bark until he gets an ear scratch or a treat…and then no bite. I may have to trade him in if I keep down this Stephen King path!)
Some of the best horror stories don’t rely solely on supernatural or paranormal elements for their scares. They focus on the monster within, the internal battle of good versus evil within us. The Shining does that, but also includes the paranormal activity at the Overlook. Personally, I could’ve done without the paranormal and just focused on the horror present in human nature (because, as we all know
and wish I’d stop saying, I prefer real over magic usually).
I’m trying to decide on my next Stephen King novel, so let me know your favorite!