It’s been a while since I finished The Shining, but it’s a book that will continue to haunt me anytime I visit a hotel. I’m a huge fan of the movie, but the fear in the book transcends the imagery Kubrick put in the film. The old, naked woman in the bathtub leaves me wishing for bleach in my mind’s eye, while the sinister spirits trying to grab a hold of Danny Torrance have me shaking in fear for the young boy and his family.
Mr. King changes the setting this go around from the ordinary-seeming towns of Maine to an isolated hotel in the Colorado mountains. Jack Torrance, a writer with a drinking problem, needs a second chance after he loses a job as a teacher, and he believes he has another chance at success by becoming a winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel during the closed season while he writes another novel. His wife, Wendy, hesitates at becoming isolated with her husband after he accidentally broke their son’s arm during one of his many bouts of drinking, but she’s a dedicated wife and she believes her husband has changed. Meanwhile, Danny meets the chef of the Overlook, Mr. Dick Hallorann, who has a telepathic bond with the boy, and he learns he’s gifted with supernatural abilities that Dick refers to as the ‘Shining’.
Things develop from there as we learn more about the Overlook and it’s history. We also learn more about the family’s past and how things played out for the Torrance’s to end up at the hotel. It’s spooky how King brings the hotel to life with scenes set in tiny places such as one particular room, Room 217 (changed to 237 in the movie), a hallway in which Danny has visions of the future while being haunted by a fire hose turned serpent, and the snow-covered playground surrounded by plant sculptures.
I feel the book has an entirely different, haunting feeling from the movie. Both are great, but the book uses a different kind of terror, where the movie uses imagery and music to build suspense. Mr. King does a fantastic job in making you feel isolated along with the Torrance family. Despite Danny’s fantastic abilities, he’s still a young boy left to the devices of his weak-willed father and weak-minded mother. And you’ll be left to cheer and pray for him as the five-year-old tries to outwit the hotel’s spiritual presence that only wants to feed off Danny’s immense abilities.