While I am no fan of horror movies (I hardly watch any movies actually) I like horror books. I admit, most books that I’ve read that fall under the ‘horror’ genre are about zombies, vampires, werewolves and other monsters. I was pretty apprehensive to read NOS4R2 by Joe Hill because people said it was pretty scary, but I really enjoyed that read. Because of that positive experience, and because of its many accolades and awards, I picked up The Shining by Stephen King. I’ve never seen the movie (all I know are some famous quotes and shots). All I knew was that it was about a caretaker (who is actually a writer) and his wife and son living in an otherwise empty hotel in the mountains during winter and that the caretaker ends up attacking his wife and son.
Jack is a fired teacher (because of a violent episode between him and a student) and recovering alcoholic. When his old drinking buddy arranges a job for him as caretaker during the winter of the Overlook hotel, he has no choice but to take it. Together with his wife Wendy and son 5-year-old son Danny he moves into the hotel. His son is special, in that he has an invisible friend Tony that can show him things (the future, or lost items). The hotel itself has a colourful past, with a mysterious owner and several murders and suicides. During the tour of the hotel Danny meets Mr. Hallorann, who calls Danny’s abilities ‘having the shine’, saying he has a lighter form himself. He is worried for the family and especially Danny, and tells Danny he can always use the shine to call for help if he needs it. And no matter how hard Danny tries to make the best of it, he and his mom need help soon enough.
This isn’t the first scary book I’ve read that gave me the creeps. The aforementioned NOS4R2 stayed in my head, and Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman gave me nightmares. But this was the first book that I just could not keep reading because it creeped me out that much. I felt I had to read it with my hands over my eyes, like watching a scary movie. The best thing about it was that it wasn’t any real traditional monsters that made it that scary, but the events slowly happening to mainly Jack and also Danny. I knew something bad, really bad, was going to happen (also from the little I knew from the movie) and I didn’t want to read it while wanting to read about it. This is the first book I can remember having that effect on me. Truly creepy! Four out of five stars.