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Finally we are here and after reviewing it’s two screen adaptations it is time to talk about Stephen King’s third horror novel The Shining.
The book of course revolves around Jack Torrance the new off season caretaker for the Overlook Hotel who is slowly driven mad by the ghosts of its past patrons.
Now I don’t need to tell anyone that we already know which adaptation is more accurate since King has always hated Kubrick’s version.
King made his own television adaptation of the book which was decent but didn’t really work for scares.
In a surprising turn of events what never worked for the screen was terrifying in the writing.
In the story Jack is the most important character only emphasised by Danny’s ability to shine.
Jack torrence is a flawed man in the book a recovering alcoholic who is in the midst of a divorce after he broke his sons arm in a drunken rage. He had not long also lost his job after attacking a student who slashed his tyres.
Jack has been sober for 5 months and all things considered he is slowly repairing his relationship with his family, taking up work in an isolated hotel which has no alcohol seems the perfect opportunity for Jack to earn some money and find inspiration for his writing, not realising the sinister plans the ghouls of the overlook are hiding.
Wendy a much more powerful character in the book is desperate to have her marriage problems fixed after experiencing her parents divorce as a child and doesn’t want Danny to take on the same emotional impact.
As seems to be a pattern in Kings book child abuse is a theme not used lightly in the novel with Danny Torrence looking back at past events where jack has been physically abusive towards Danny.
Wendy blames many of Danny’s injuries at the hotel on Jack even though it was the ghosts such as the lady in the bath.
It is implied that overlook wanted jack to get the blame as part of their plan to slowly corrupt his mind.
Jack remembers his father beating his mother when he was drunk, early on he is ashamed of this but as the hotel tightens it’s grip over him he begins to have more sympathy and believes that he needs to punish his family.
King leaves so many questions for the readers in his writing, the biggest here is what is exactly is the Overlook Hotel?
From face value it seems to be a haunted hotel which inhabits some rather nasty ghouls but when you really sit back and theorize over it the overlook very well may be a living organism.
King always writes in way that never puts the ghosts in blame for what happens, it is always referred back to the Overlook.
„This inhuman place makes human monsters.“
A quote from Tony to Danny and one that emphasizes this point, the Overlook is using manipulation and controlling people to change within its own walls.
Those who die in the Overlook are trapped there in spirit, the hotel prays on the weak and tricks them into killing the stronger members first. This is not only seen through how the Hotel effects Jack Torrence but also it’s previous victims Delbert Grady and his family.
Compared to kings previous novel Salem’s Lot I didn’t really find this book as scary but I will say that you can take certain scares from the book more seriously than the 1997 miniseries.
One thing that does work much better in this book than either adaptation is Tony, Tony is never visualised but is a distant voice which calls out to Danny dropping simple auditory warnings of what’s to come.
In a later revelation we learn that Tony is simply Danny communicating with his 15 year old self 10 years into the future, making sure that everything goes to plan and Danny survives his father’s murderous onslaught.
there is a very good theory going around that Danny inherited his shining ability from his father, Jack having the ability and not realising would help explain things, especially how he manages to directly communicate with the spirits of the Overlook.
The shining is Stephen King’s best book yet and is in opinion a perfectly written horror story, it isn’t overly scary but has some creepy overtones and with its smaller cast and singular location the plot is easy to follow and never feels it gets off track.
It’s a story that has a conclusive finale but will leave readers thinking about it’s narrative and theorising it’s supernatural aspects.
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