I grew up loving the horror genre. I saw all the classic films growing up from each decade and imbibed on the words of many a classic horror novel as well. To say I love horror would be a severe understatement. I had toy caskets in my room and one pewter casket in my room from a trip to Nashua, New Hampshire and a stop at Headlines. I love mask, having gone as multiple horror characters over the years. I’ve been Freddy Kruger twice, I’ve been Ghostface from Scream, I had he haunted mask from Goosebumps, which was also my two favorite of the series.
Partially because I kind of had a small fear of getting stuck in a mask forever. I could easily identify with those characters. I wanted a coffin for a bed, of which my mom declined. I had the Hellrasier lament configuration, multiple screenplays from the X-Files and beyond all that, I had a bunch of Stephen King novels. Stephen King was pretty much legally obligated to read for anyone looking to be a horror buff and understand their favorite genre. After all, no horror writer prior to Stephen King had been famous enough, made enough money from and helped to develop an otherwise uncouth genre. Much like Science fiction in the 1940’s and 1950’s, it was a genre you could take chances with, almost like literature, but with more beheading, gutting mass murderers and other satanic creatures from the abyss.
It was the most fun you could have as a child and worth every second and every penny you could spend on watching, reading and playing video games like Resident Evil.
As you get older though, scaring you is a hell of a lot harder for the genre to do. People tend to toughen up as they get older, with some SJW’s in the current year of 2018 being an exception to that rule. Maybe it’s not even that we toughen up, but our fears change and are a lot harder to articulate in this genre than say, romance or some other drama.
I know as I got older, finding things that were scary was a lot harder than when I was a child. I put even more emphasis on just a good story with fantastic prose.
Sometime last year, I decided, even though I loathe nostalgia, that I wanted to do a retrospective on my favorite horror. Books, movies, tv shows, games and whatever else I could find in this world. Naturally, I started with the master of Horror himself, Stephen King.
The Shining might be a tad bit dated in 2018, given that it was written in 1977. Thankfully, those dated references are kept to a bare minimum. Even Millennials should get most the references, because payphones existed in our time too. What I am referring to is more like current events at the time, like mentioning the Donner Party. Although, for Millennials, this was referenced in Gekko:Enter the Gekko if you ever played that.
The book opens with Jack Torrance going for a job interview. Now I am not going to bore you with a scene by scene replay, but this sets the tone for the book and is Different from the movie, where the interview is a few scenes in, if I recall. It plays out almost exactly like the movie, give or take a few of Jack’s thoughts that we don’t get, which really would have made for a better and more memorable scene in that movie. This is book is nothing like the movie, but both are great for what they are.
Jack is a much more interesting character than he is in the flick. In fact, all the characters are far more interesting than their movie counterparts. It seems to me that King really understood his craft, until the 1980’s that is, when a lot of his work goes downhill. Remember kids, don’t coke and write, otherwise you’ll end up creating a bloated version of A Nightmare on Elm St with a clown, but I’ll go over that in another review.
Besides well written characters, the prose is supreme here as well. I don’t mean Nabokov type of fancy, but well done. It’s simple, but paints the pictures well and doesn’t try to find every obscure 25 cent word it can, to make you enjoy the story. Occasionally, King stretches his vocabulary, but the story does what it should and be accessible to all audiences who wishes to enjoy his work.
The pace this story moves at is lighting fast. I finished the book within the couple of days I got it. Which is more than I can say for IT, but again, I’ll save the rant about that for another review.
Danny is the most relatable character in this book. King knew how to really show how unique Danny was. Instead of saying he was highly intelligent, King showed us with his speech. Danny is a great analogy for being a rare type of child with a gift that few people can understand, as The Shining is really an allegorical book about being an intuitive in a sensing world. Being more introspective in a world that values instant gratification and sound bites. Intelligence in a world that still doesn’t value science as much as it should and intelligent people are cast off as “Angry” young men or worse.
If anything, this book is more relevant now in 2018 than it was in 1977 when it was first released. It also has very few bad spots. Most of the parts that disappointed me were the fact some of the most iconic movies aspects, never actually appeared in the book. For instance, there is no “Heeeerrreee’s Johnny” or “All work and no play, make Jack a dull boy”. Which were fantastic. As much as I hate seeing the movie before reading the book, some of Kubrick’s additions into the movie, even though King hates it, were actually better. The 1997 miniseries, which King spearheaded was worse than Kubrick’s version, even if it was closer to the book. One of the few times, I would say, straying from the source material was a good idea. The ending on Kubrick’s version is way better than the end to this novel, but the ending fits this version in a way I don’t think a frozen Jack Torrance would translate into prose without being a letdown. Blowing him up works here as it really need that Jaws ending.
Ultimately, this book made me feel like a child, just discovering horror for the first time, as it really did envelop me and have me on the edge of my seat. It was scary and that, in a world that is currently scarier than anything Stephen King could imagine, is in and of itself a rarity.
This book is highly recommend and gets the full 5 out of 5 stars and deserves it!