Before I get started, I will answer the obvious question….yes, I made room in my freezer before starting this book!
I think I can safely say that everyone has heard of this book. Whether you have seen the movie, read it yourself or just heard reference to it. I personally have never had a desire to read it before, as horror films or books are not my thing. However, thanks to this little book club, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and picked up this classic, as it was Vanille’s choice. The Shining by Stephen King was the November book choice.
As I have never seen the film, I was lucky that I actually had no idea what this story was about. This meant that I could read it without expectations. In the book we meet Jack, Danny and Wendy. They have had some hard times, Jack has an alcohol problem, Danny seems to have a special ability to speak to someone his parents call his “Invisible friend” and as a family, they don’t seem to communicate. Early on into the book however, I came to the realisation that I didn’t particularly like any of the characters. This was testing at times to carry on reading the book at the start, because quite often I will be motivated in reading books, based on my love of the character I am getting to know. The deeper I got into the book, I did have a lot of sympathy for all of the characters for different reasons, but I didn’t find that I fell in love with them.
We see the family move to The Overlook hotel for the winter as Jack takes on the responsibility of looking after the hotel, until they reopen. We get a sense of foreboding from the beginning that the Overlook could be a recipe for disaster for the family. Jack is warned about the past caretakers being stuck at the hotel during the winter, and the tragedy that struck there in the past. I felt the undertones of suspense early on, and was quite spooked in reading what was coming round the corner.
At the beginning of the book we really get to know how Danny thinks and see that there is something different about him, initially it made me not really connect with Danny, but rather fear him and what this could mean down the line. We see a lot of the book from his eyes, as well as Jack. Jack is also someone I struggled to like. Although I did feel quite sorry for him throughout the book, as he battles with his struggles and his determination to do better for his family. Although The Shining as a film, is noted as one of the classics for horror/ scary films, I found this book to be subtle in many ways in how you felt scared. It was the anticipation of what was about to happen, rather than the scare itself.
As the book continues and the story within the Overlook continues, I did begin to feel a deeper connection to Danny and sympathised with him more and more. You really see the innocence in Danny as the story develops through his eyes. When Danny feels scared, you really feel this with him, even something so childlike as him being scared that a fire hose will come alive and chase him! Though it’s a slow pace at first in terms of the scary aspects really happening, I feel that it is a deliberate choice as we almost feel the tension building along with the characters. This book definitely scared me, as I read further along; it was creepy, full of suspense and mystery and by the end I did feel for the characters. However, I only wish I connected fully with all of the characters. When I read books, I enjoy falling in love with the characters within them, so when that doesn’t happen, I do struggle. Having a busy work schedule whilst reading this also didn’t help!
Overall, I did enjoy the book, but it’s not one I would rush to pick up again, but it’s also a book I feel like you have to read at some point. It is a classic for a reason, and I am glad I can say it’s one checked off my list.
In the off chance there are people who have not read the book, I won’t reveal the ending, but I will say this is certainly a book that you need to take a minute to get into, but once you do the pace really does pick up.
Book rating – 6/10
Recommend – Yes
Read again – No