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The Shining by Stephen King

By Pamelascott


The Shining by Stephen King

New English Library (paperback), 1977

497 pages

The Shining has been adapted for screen as a movie I980 by Stanley Kubrick starring Jack Nicholson ( and as a TV mini-series in 1997 (


Danny is only five years old, but in the words of old Mr Hallorann he is a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father becomes caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, Danny’s visions grow out of control. 

As winter closes in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seems to develop a life of its own. It is meant to be empty. So who is the lady in Room 217 and who are the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why do the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive? 

Somewhere, somehow, there is an evil force in the hotel – and that, too, is beginning to shine… 


Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick. 


The Shining is one of King’s earliest novels and one of my favourites. The Shining is yet another King novel I’ve read at least half a dozen times, most recently about two years ago. I think The Shining is one of the best supernatural novels ever written. I love The Shining and my love grows with every re-read.

The characterisation is great in The Shining. Jack, Wendy and Danny are well-drawn, very real characters. The more minor characters such as Mr Hallorann and Ullman are also very well-written. I thought Jack was a very tragic character. He was a drunk but not really a bad man. The supernatural forces inside The Overlook exploit his weaknesses and magnify them. He is as much a victim as he is a vessel for evil. I liked Wendy. She had a lot of backbone trying to keep her family together and protect her son as her husband slipped deeper and deeper into darkness. Who doesn’t love Danny Torrance? Nobody does good character quite like King and The Shining is a brilliant example of this.

The terrible events in the latter section of The Shining are developed gradually. Nothing very much happens in the first chunk of the novel as the Torrance’s settle in to life at The Overlook. Jack works on his play and his duties as caretaker. Wendy takes care of her family and teaches Danny to read. Things start to get darker as the snow comes and they are cut off from the rest of the world. King builds the terror gradually. Danny’s visions become more and more terrifying. Jack starts to exhibit all his old drinking behaviours such as rubbing his mouth until the skin bursts and bleeds and his temper comes back. The hotel uses Danny’s power to come to monstrous life. I loved the way the plot develops in The Shining. 

There are so many scenes in The Shining that take my breath away. King knows how to pack a punch over and over. The last hundred or so pages are packed with tension, drama and action as terrible vents approach a climax. I literary raced through these pages. My heart pounded and my palms sweated the whole time. Talking about scaring the pants off your readers.

It’s well known King does not like Kubrick’s version of The Shining. Jack Torrance is portrayed as a violent, unstable drunk from the outset and supernatural events in the hotel are hugely downplayed. I love Kubrick’s film and think Jack Nicholson is perfect as Jack Torrance. There is a lot missed out of the film but I still really enjoy it. King wrote the teleplay for the mini-series which was his chance to make the adaption he wanted and Kubrick couldn’t do. I didn’t enjoy the mini-series as much.



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