Reviewer: Beth’s List Love (first published March 2013)
I haven’t been scared of a lot of movies, but The Shining freaked me out pretty well. That meant that when I went to pick up the novel, it took me awhile to get going, since I kept saying to myself “oh, man, this is going to start getting really scary!” But of course I kept going and was rewarded by a very well-crafted and scary novel that is actually quite unlike the movie in some interesting ways (e.g. no maze, but some very scary topiary hedges). I’ll have to watch the movie again now, just to refresh myself on the differences.
Marvelously suspenseful! Also NOT entirely similar to the excellent movie you have probably already seen. Written from the perspective of 3 family members and one other character, this novel explores the frightening things that unfold in the off-season when the family sign on as caretakers for the posh but infamous Overlook Hotel in an isolated mountainside location in Colorado.
The father, an English teacher and promising writer has just lost a job at a private school due to his alcoholism and violence, and the same factors have threatened his family. His five year old son has some eerie psychic abilities that give him visions of evil events likely to transpire should they actually take up residence at the hotel. Knowing all this up front keeps a reader on the edge of his/her seat from the very start.
Stephen King builds the suspense steadily while giving little breaks to lull the reader in between. He shows us the battle the father wages with his weaknesses, the struggle the mother has with whether to trust his recent sobriety and seeming return to the personality of the man she fell in love with, and tremendous difficulties the son has trying to be a willing participant in something he fears will go terribly wrong very soon because of how necessary the job is to maintaining the family’s status as an intact unit.
Meanwhile, far away in Florida the cook for the resort, who has made a deep connection with the little boy, wonders if he can reach the family in time to save any of them. Add snow, terrifying things happening in and around the hotel, and you have the novel.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.