Every time I watch the movie version of The Shining I am left wondering why certain things happened. I never really understood the significance of some events and I hoped that reading the novel would help clarify what was really going on in the movie. It did!
Just as with all of King’s books, he created a fascinating story that pulled me right into the turmoil surrounding the Torrance family. When Jack secured work as the winter caretaker at the Overlook hotel it meant his family would live in isolation for several months while being snowed into the hotel. That alone was a frightening idea!
There were several narratives here that allowed me to thoroughly understand each character and gain a complete perspective of what was transpiring in the hotel. I found Danny’s narrative to be the most interesting. He was a sincere and intuitive little boy who happened to be caught in the middle of his parents’ marital issues. He had visions brought to him by what can only be described as a spirit, whom he called Tony. Tony seemed both to want to help and hurt Danny. Tony was most helpful when he gave Danny premonition that terrible things would happen at the hotel, and although Danny verbalized these visions to the adults around him, no one could understand their meaning.
In the movie, Jack’s craziness comes out of nowhere, and there is obvious tension between him and his wife Wendy, but it isn’t described. The book gave an entire history about how Jack’s alcoholism was an issue in their marriage, and resulted in him losing his job and placing them in a financial crisis. That tension made sense given their divorce discussions and financial woes that prevented Wendy from having the money to leave the marriage even after Jack broke Danny’s arm. At the hotel, Wendy recognized the early signs of Jack’s relapse to alcoholism, which put her on edge. That, along with Jack’s conversations with dead hotel staff documented his slow descent into madness. Ultimately, the hotel directed Jack to kill his family. One interesting detail was that the house wanted Danny’s soul more than Jack’s, which made Jack jealous of his son.
This spooky story was enhanced more by the characters than by the writing. The characters’ reactions to the supernatural events happening around them was what made this so creepy. I liked the book a lot, but the movie was much more terrifying. Overall, this was another fantastic read!