by Stephen King
After losing his job and struggling with his alcoholism, Jack Torrance decides to take a job as an off-season caretaker at a huge resort hotel in Colorado. He wants time to rebuild his relationship with his wife and young son and to work on the play he is writing. His son Danny has an odd psychic gift that worries his parents. When they move into the Overlook hotel the power becomes much stronger and they quickly realize something is dreadfully wrong.
The reason this book is so timelessly scary is because it’s more about one person losing their grasp on reality than it is about the haunted hotel. It shows what addiction can do to a person’s psyche. Obviously there is a big dose of the supernatural thrown in for fun, but it wouldn’t be as scary if Jack wasn’t second-guessing what he saw because he didn’t trust his own mind. The book became particularly well-known because of the loosely adapted 1970s film version and it really put King on the map as a respected author. I can’t believe this was only his third book!
The scariest parts of the book aren’t the moments when we see a ghost, though those are terrifying, they are the moments when Jack begins to justify his evil actions. We watch as he becomes obsessed with the hotel and self-destructive in his own life. The thought of what one man is capable of doing to his family is more than disturbing. It takes on a particularly dark twist when you remember that the author struggled with his own alcoholism around the same time.
There is a scene in The Playground (chapter 23) where we get the first inking that things are seriously amiss. Jack is trimming the topiary animals and believes they are creeping towards him. It is absolutely terrifying, especially because we don’t know if it’s actually happening or if Jack is losing his mind and imagining it.
The first time we really see the dark changes in Jack is when Danny sneaks into Room 217. He is beyond terrified by what happens to him, but Jack eventually convinces himself that Danny deserved what he got because he had been trespassing.
“If the boy had gotten a scare, wasn’t that at least his just desserts?”
That’s the moment when we realize Jack cares more about the hotel than his own son’s safety. He begins to feel connected to the hotel and we realize that he’s loosing control of the situation.
“Nothing in the Overlook frightened him. He felt that he and it were simpatico.”
In the end of the book, when Dick Hallorann is rescuing them, there’s a scene in the wood shed that I think is so crucial. It was really important to see that Dick was tempted to do the same thing Jack had been attempting to do. It showed us that it wasn't just Jack being susceptible to the hotel’s power because he was weak and had too much self-doubt. It made the reader understand just how powerful the hotel was and that it wasn’t just Jack’s fault. He truly did love his son.
BOTTOM LINE: It scared me a lot, and I think that’s the point. I didn’t love it in the same way I loved The Stand, because I didn’t feel as connected to the characters, except Dick Hallorann, he was fantastic. I think this is a great book to read when you’re in the mood to be scared silly.
“Tough old world, baby. It you’re not bolted together tightly, you’re gonna shake, rattle and roll before you turn thirty.”
**I had so much fun reading this along with my fellow #shineon ladies. Thank you for hosting Jill and getting us all awesome sunglasses to protect our eyes from the bright shining!
Other Shineon reviews: (let me know if I missed your’s!)
Between the Covers
Care's Online Book Club
You Gotta Read This!
Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity
*Photos of me and Ollie