Review of The Shining by Stephen King
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I committed the cardinal sin of watching the Shining film several times without actually reading the book. I am a great fan of Stanley Kubrick's film version, and also a fan of Jack Nicholson, so I couldn't really help myself. But as an author myself, and a as fan of many of Stephen King's stories, I eventually got round to reading the Shining novel rather a long time after it was written.
The book has certainly lost none of its appeal. It presents the Overlook Hotel, not just as a collection of walls and rooms but as a living entity. The rich history of the hotel provides a fantastic setting for the story to unfold.
The original story is quite different from the screenplays that followed, perhaps explaining Stephen's apparent dislike of them. Although the setting is the same, the films have ignored large sections of the book and added many sections that weren't present in the original story. This is probably typical of an ongoing friction between authors and screen-writers. The latter based their screenplays on the author's manuscript to some extent, but veer off wildly when it pleases them. For me, the film and the book are different, but they both work well within their formats.
The Shining is a highly entertaining read. It is frightening in places, and it's very good at leaving the reader in a sort of tense apprehensive state, constantly wondering what will happen next. The characters were excellent and the story was strong. The setting adds great atmosphere, and the book shows the early talent of King as it was just beginning to unfold. Since then he has learnt many new tricks and produced story after story, ultimately becoming one of the most prolific story writers of our time.
I'm not sure what Stephen thinks when he looks back at his early work, no doubt there will be bits here and there that he wouldn't do the same way with hindsight, but the Shining still stands out as a great story, even many years after it was first written. No doubt it'll be here for many years to come too.
At the start of the book there is a new introduction where Stephen describes how the book came about and what it meant to him at the time. It was a turning point in his career where he could have played safe, but he decided to got the extra mile, and to take risks in producing a story that was greater than the sum of its parts.
I highly recommend this book to any reader, not just horror fans.
Shine on. Shine on.
The Shining is available on Amazon at the following link:
[Posted by: Peter James West, author of the science fiction series: Tales of Cinnamon City.]
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