A King Hater Reads King: The Shining

This might be a surprise to a lot of people but I hadn’t read The Shining before this month. I loved the film with Jack Nicholson but when it came to the book my view on King’s work has been seriously tainted so I just didn’t bother reading it even though I owned a copy. I have so say now that I regret not picking it up sooner. Was it a masterpiece? No. Was it one of the best King books I have read? Yes. I don’t think it is as good as Carrie or IT but I can say that is probably comes third on my very short list of enjoyable Stephen King books. So far that list consists of three books.

If you have been living under a rock and don’t know what The Shining is about already I will explain it to you. It is about a couple and their young son who spend the winter in the haunted and isolated Overlook Hotel. Madness and creepiness ensues. The kid is psychic and the husband is an ex alcoholic, because this is a Stephen King book and addicts and random psychic powers have to appear somewhere. At least they are done well in this one, probably because it is one of his earlier novels and he hasn’t started beating those dead horses to a pulp yet.

What I enjoyed the most about this novel was the atmosphere and the pacing. It was slower than most horror novels that I enjoy, and usually when King does slow he adds mountains of pointless waffle, but this time it was different. The slow pacing of The Shining was perfect and every trivial scene in it added something to the story, especially when it comes to the father, Jack, slowly loosing his mind.

That brings me to my second favourite part of this novel: Jack. Dear god, he is probably my all time favourite Stephen King character. He was beautifully written. You really feel his torment at times and when he starts going mad it is slow and gradual so at the start you are not sure if he is loosing it or he is just in a normal bad mood. I will admit though, I probably found him more comical than threatening most of the time. There were a few scenes were he was internally monologuing and I realised that this guy was just standing there starting at a snowmobile and ranting about how much he hates it for no reason. At one point he was monologuing about how much he hates disinfectant. This man was standing in a bathroom glaring at a sink while hating on disinfectant. It was hilarious.

I have one big negative point about this novel and that is the mother, Wendy. By the time I was half way through the novel I wanted to beat her with a hammer. Little things annoyed me about her thoughout the novel but the big turn off came around half way through. Answer me this, if you had a child who appeared to have been strangled by an unknown person and your husband openly admits to breaking the only radio that would let you call for help, what would you do? You would get mad, right? Not Wendy. She makes out with her husband instead and quickly gives up complaining about it. By the time Jack went mad I was rooting for him to kill her.

Overall The Shining was a good book and I would recommend it if you haven’t already read it. I will warn you that it is very different from the film so don’t go into it expecting bleeding elevators and creepy twins. It is more Psychological horror than ghost horror.

I am starting to think this King challenge is a bit too easy. I have read too many enjoyable novels while doing this challenge. To remedy that I am going to reread the novel that destroyed my love of Stephen King in the first place. I am going to reread Cujo.

12 thoughts on “A King Hater Reads King: The Shining”

  1. I haven’t read this one yet either but LOVE the movie!! I need to make it a point to read more of his novels. I’ve heard It is one of the best but – CLOWNS! I’m not sure I can do it. But I don’t have to actually see them so, maybe?

    1. If it helps IT isn’t a clown all the time. It can change form so it doesn’t appear as a clown 100% of the time. Maybe have your own King reading marathon?

      1. It’s not a clown all the time?! Ok my assumptions are totally wrong then. Maybe I will pick it up. I have 11/22/63 to read still. The last King book I read was Under the Dome last year. It intrigued me and made me mad all at the same time. His books are huge but read quickly so that’s a plus

      2. No it isn’t. It is a clown sometimes but usually it takes the form of whatever kids are frightened of. IT is a HUGE book though. It is over 1,000 pages long so it is a big read.

      3. Wow that’s a lot of pages! I don’t think I’ve ever watched the movie because it terrifies me so I didn’t know it changed form. Maybe I’ll pick it up some time!

      4. If you are frightened of clowns maybe give the film a miss because it is a clown in the film more than it is in the book.

  2. I’ve only read The Shining and Misery so far of King — though I have It, Salem’s Lot, and Under the Dome on my shelf — and they were great reads, but not the best for me. I plan to try It next and I hope it is as great as the others, especially since I watched the TV movie when I was around 10 (no idea why I was allowed) and it was absolutely terrifying; of course I’m sure it is different to the book, but it’d be interesting to see how it all started.

  3. It’s been forever since I read a King book. I have 38 on my shelves (under his SK name) yet I’ve only read 10 of them. I enjoyed a of his short story compilations a lot and Misery, It, and Pet Sematary are among my favorites. From a Buick 8 is my least favorite only because I couldn’t get past that he did another car book. I take that back. Tried reading The Tommyknockers and couldn’t get through it. I might try again some day but his books are not priority in my reading life. His excessive wordiness gets to me. I have not read The Shining but should I be coerced into another King book sometime in the next decade it’ll be on the top of my list.

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