Hodderscape Review Project Roundup: The Shining
By Anne Perry
Posted on January 24, 2014 in Books with tags Hodderscape Review Project, Stephen King
First published in 1977, The Shining is an indisputable classic – and the Review Project’s September title. Here’s what our reviewers think! (And find out more about our reviewers, visit their sites! – here.)
Stefan of Civilian Reader was a first-time reader (and had never seen any adaptation of the book) and was surprised and delighted by how deeply psychological the novel is: ‘It’s a fascinating story of the psychological impact of lifetimes of abuse – both physical and emotional – exacerbated by extreme cabin fever.’ Ultimately, he found it ‘an essential read.’ Read the full review here.
Max of One Chapter More suggests that King’s novel shouldn’t be read as horror: ‘At the heart of The Shining is a metaphor for the problems of drink and drugs and the loss of control therein, the effect that they have on a family. At its heart is a novel exploring the smalltown worries of a boy and a wife to their abusive husband. At its heart is a morality tale: good will win out, evil will burn in the fire, even when the odds are 50-1. And as an exploration of morality, it’s absolutely fascinating.’ Full review here.
Robin of Quicksilver Reads found the film version inescapable when returning to the novel after 25 years: ‘nearly every memory I have of the book has been obliterated by the Kubrick/Nicholson masterpiece/interminable bore,’ he writes. But that doesn’t mean the book doesn’t stand on its own merits, or that it hasn’t held up over time. ‘On my first read,’ he continues, ‘Jack is only a monster, but now I can see the human side of him.’ Full review here. He used ThoughtStreams to chronicle his reread, to great effect: ‘The wasps are wonderfully evocative. Our general dislike of them played upon, but with an underlying feeling that they are innocent victims too. Jack Torrence stings when he’s angry.’ The full stream is available here.
Penny Schenk, who grew up in Maine, admits that The Shining is her first King novel. ‘I was doing with horror what many people do with science fiction or fantasy,’ she writes. ‘”Oh that. I don’t really do that. It’s an acquired taste.” I’ve discovered the error of my ways… it’s a hell of a book.’ Full review here.
Glen Mehn revisited The Shining to find it ‘a seminal, if flawed work’ – ‘It lives up to that promise,’ he finds, ‘but it cheats.’ Read the full review here.
For Reader Dad, The Shining is an old favourite, but for a very good reason: ‘In all the hype that now surrounds the name of Stephen King, it’s easy to forget just what The Shining is: it’s the third novel of a young novelist – not yet thirty years old – who is still in the process of making a name for himself. Like Carrie, it relies as much on human nature as on the supernatural for its scares – Jack’s descent into madness is certainly down to whatever is haunting the Overlook, but it’s his fragile state of mind, his damaged self-esteem, and his constant need for a drink that opens the door to whatever is trying to get inside. Read the full review here.
The Booksmugglers: ‘To answer the question of whether or not The Shining stands the test of time? The answer is clear: yes, yes it does. The Shining remains one of my favorite Stephen King novels, and I cannot wait to revisit Danny Torrance in Doctor Sleep (hopefully he fares better than young Jack Sawyer in Black House).’ Full review here.
A Fantastical Librarian: Mieneke had her misgivings, but ultimately liked the book: ‘I definitely see why King is one of the grand masters of horror and why The Shining is a classic of the genre. If you’re interested in horror, then The Shining is a must-read.’ Full review here.
Meanwhile, Ewa at Kallichore had no reservations whatsoever: ‘It’s about as haunted as a book can be. It’s haunted by the author, the film, the director, and the huge impact it had on popular culture. You can’t help but feel the echoes from every reference you’ve seen, read or heard vibrate through it to the point where you’re not quite sure you’re reading alone. Every re-read you discover something familiar but unsettling, like those times you’re caught between two mirrors and you can see your reflection repeating off into infinity. It’s so, so weird. And oh my god so satisfying.’ Full review here.