My rating: 4/5
I read a remarkable novel titled The Shining by Stephen King. I am a big fan of the horror genre but was generally dissatisfied by the lame horror tales that the new age movies deliver. So, this book proved to be a jolt of awakening for me. I had never imagined that simply flipping through the pages of a book could spook me to such an extent that I would continuously open my eyes after every five minutes or so to check the presence of any ghosts. (Trust me I am not exaggerating). I was browsing through the Internet to look for good horror novels. Almost every page that I surfed overwhelmingly suggested this book (albeit on one condition: do not read it at night). So I set out to read it.
King has delivered a masterpiece with this book. He not only succeeds in creating a haunting atmosphere, which gradually closes upon Danny (and the reader), but also delves into the dynamics of relationship in a family. The Shining refers to the psychic telepathic abilities of five year old Danny Torrance who has ‘visions’ of the future. When his father becomes the caretaker of The Overlook Hotel, the Torrance family has to move into the hotel for the winter. However, as winter becomes severe and they are secluded from the rest of the world by blizzards, strange and out-of-the world events occur that seem to hint that the hotel has a life of its own.
The hotel is supposed to be empty but it is NOT. There is a lady in Room No. 217. Blood and brain matter is spattered on the apparently clean walls of the Presidential suite. Masks are seen lying on the elevator floor out of nowhere and sinister animal shaped hedges also appear. It seems that the malevolent force in the hotel too has begun to shine.
Jack Torrance is a recovering alcoholic and has a nasty temper. The Overlook manipulates his weaknesses to deliver to him what it wants- Danny because of his unusual shining. The Overlook has had its history of murders and suicides. All those “undead” spirits are now a part of the hotel- all of them determined to kill the Torrance family and claim Danny as the prize.
The initial few chapters are slow; building on the tempo. However, after the encounter with the Lady in Room No. 217, the story gathers pace and from thereon, its an unputdownable book. Like Danny, the Lady in Room No. 217 scared the living daylights out of me too. I had to stop reading it for a day to overcome the jitters. Like Danny, I, too, took solace in Dick Halloran’s words that “they’re just like pictures in a book. They can’t hurt anybody.” But when that woman’s decaying long fingers closed upon Danny’s neck, I could literally feel them closing around my throat. After this incident, gradually The Overlook starts tormenting all the three Torrances , but it was Jack who took the heaviest blow (literally).
King constructs the imagery through words brilliantly. Without the aid of any audio-visual medium (read movie), I could clearly visualize all that was happening in the Overlook. King is a consummate storyteller who knows how to hook the reader and not let him leave the book until he has turned the last page.
P.S It was a total coincidence that I finished reading this book on 13th March. :p
(This review is also posted on Goodreads.)