The Shining by Stephen King

Genre: Horror
Format read: ebook
Content warnings: alcohol abuse, violence, emotional abuse, gaslighting
Rating: planchet-3

**This review contains spoilers**

Jack Torrance has not had a good year, but that’s about to change. After a year “on the wagon,” he finally has a new job. It’s not as good as his old one, teaching English at a prestigious prep school, but it’s enough to keep his family afloat, and give his old bosses time to cool off. By the time his contract is up in May, they’ll be begging him to come back.

Or so he hopes, as he loads his wife, Wendy, and their 5-year-old son, Danny, into their failing Beetle for the drive to the secluded Overlook Hotel in the Colorado mountains. It’s just a few months. Just a few months of easy work as caretaker for the hotel during the office season, when it’s closed to the public. It will do them all good to get away for a while.

But there’s something lurking in the hotel, and it wants Jack–badly. Optimism turns to desperation and resentment. His curiosity about the hotel’s storied past of murder, sudden death, mysterious events, and gangland ties turns into an obsession as the spirit of the hotel claws deeper into his brain.

But it may not be Jack it wants, after all.

I don’t want to dive too deep into the summary of this book since it is pretty famous. You can read about it here, on Goodreads. 

That being said, I went into it knowing nothing except it was about a haunted hotel (Yes, please!) and it’s Stephen King, The Master of Horror. I’d never seen the movie. In fact, I’d never read any Stephen King at all, or seen any movies based on his work. So I figured it was time to change that.

I honestly didn’t care for most of this book. I hated Jack with a passion. I found his family situation triggering due to the emotional abuse he puts his family through and the alcoholism.

Also, apparently a trait of King’s writing is to introduce the story, then do several chapters of backstory, and then get back to the current timeline. I thought the backstory was very slow and it did not endear me to any of the characters except Danny.

His wife, Wendy, came across whiny and annoying for the first 2/3 of the book, and for a woman in her situation, that should not be the case.

Once I got to the last 30% or so of the book, things got really intense and I enjoyed it more, but I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when Jack died. He’s the first literary character I have actively wanted to die.

Part of me wants to say that this book had good rep for POC, because Dick Halloran, a black man, is arguably the hero of the piece, who comes to rescue Danny and Wendy when thinks look particularly grim. He’s a total badass, and I loved him from the first page he appeared on. However, there are also racial slurs thrown about in the second half of the book in particular, so I’m not comfortable calling it “good rep” as a white woman–I think a person of color would have to be the one to make that call.

All in all, it was a decent book, but I feel like I’ve met my King Quota. From what I’ve heard from other reviewers, the issues I had with this book (the triggering aspects, the pacing, and the racial language) are all hallmarks of Stephen King. If you think I’m wrong, leave a comment and tell me which one of his books I should read to change my mind!