|The Shining by Stephen King|
Published by Hodder
Paperback - 513 pages
Published August 2013 (latest edition)
Review copy given by publisher
Part of the Hodderscape Review Project
This was my first proper King novel, and now I understand why he’s lauded as ‘the master of suspense’. The Shining is dripping in suspense and tension from beginning to end. From the moment that Danny has his first vision to the final confrontation, you’re gripping the pages with white knuckles as King pulls you through Jack Torrence’s decaying mind.
I liked that you never quite knew if you were reading a full-blown horror novel, or a psychological thriller. Was the hotel haunted? Was Jack possessed, or was he going insane?
His childhood abuse and subsequent alcoholism as an adult make him the prime candidate for being one to snap, but the supernatural power within the hotel transforms this into something altogether more frightening. Jack’s visions of the past, conversations with people who don’t exist and increasingly aggressive thoughts ramp up the tension even further as you’re stuck in this claustrophobic world with him.
I wasn’t too keen on Danny, who seemed too smart and eloquent for a five-year old. It felt as though he was written to be a good few years older, but was portrayed as younger to try and retain some more innocence about him. The result felt a little disjointed.
As both protagonist and antagonist, Jack Torrence is a brilliant character, and I loved both his benevolence and his darkness. His efforts to repair his marriage, his career and his relationship with his son made you root for him throughout, even when you could see the veil of madness slipping over him. King’s addition of Jack’s many ticks help you spot the warning signs of this madness beforehand, adding that extra bit of tension before the payoff.
The Shining was absolutely fantastic, and an excellent introduction to King’s novels; well-paced with a great protagonist and so thick with tension that you need a sledgehammer to break through. Any horror fan worth their salt should read this, and serves as a brilliant start into the genre.