Okay, as has happened several times in this topic, I'm engaging in thradcromancy because my lady and I just finished reading the shining.
This was a second read for me, indeed it was interesting going back to page 1 of this topic, since I first read the shining in I believe 2011, and was surprised how good it was.
Also, my lady and I have now finally! seen the Cubric film version, which is a very good film, but a vastly different story, and also distinctly unfair to several characters, portraying Jack Torrence as a one dimentional monster, making poor Dick Halloran have far less impact on the plot (really he pretty much just delivers the getaway vehicle and gets killed), and oddly enough, missing out almost entirely on the books' ending.
Okay, I loved the characters in this one here particularly. I recall King remarking in an interview at one point that his first draught of the book simply portrayed Jack as nothing but an alcoholic, abusive monster right from the start, but then having the idea of how the book would look if Jack genuinely loved his son.
this for me is what makes the book truly compelling, since the Jack torrence we meet at the start of the book is someone who is trying to make good after doing some genuinely horrible things, be a good husband and father and clean up his alcoholism. Whether he would have actually managed if it weren't for the hotel's influence is an interesting question in itself, and not one with a definite answer, since even up until the end, the hotel is very much working with what is there, enhancing Jack's feelings of inferiority and misplaced hatred, indeed it's interesting that you see it try a similar thing with Dick Haloran right towards the very end, working on his own resentment at racism he's experienced , but Dick is able to fight things off.
I'll also say, that usually when I don't really like the cliche of the man who has endured abuse turning into a monster, King here makes it both credible and believable, since we understand why jack goes as wrong as he does, and exactly what buttons the hotel is pushing.
Getting away from Jack though, the other characters are just as complex, dick, Wendy, even Danny, all have their own forms of journey to go through.
I will say, I do think King made a few mistakes with Danny's pov, since often he used language which expressed concepts that a five or six year old wouldn't know, for example when he describes clouds as "pregnant with rain", or the like. This felt a bit jarring, especially when he was showing Danny's actual thoughts, like his referring to Jack's drinking as "the bad thing."
Wendy is also one of King's best female characters, particularly her complicated feelings towards her son and jack, even down to her slight jealousy at Danny placing Jack over her in his affections. I also really liked how Wendy accepts Danny's abilities, and eventually, just accepts how completely wrong the hotel is, even as she stands up to things and is pretty all around awesome, indeed while my lady has noted that several of King's early female characters become wet tissues, over emotional and constantly crying (particularly Franny goldsmith from The Stand), Wendy is not one of them.
This is particularly notable given that, being literally fifty years old, the social expectations the Shining depicts obviously aren't modern, for example the way that though Wendy has the same level of education as Jack, it is he that has the major career aspirations which are derailed by his alcoholism, and it's just assumed Wendy won't have too many aspirations beyond looking after the house and raising her son.
Getting onto plot, wow this one is creepy! I admit I found the focus on some of the hotel's history a bit overly dry, and unecessary, but whenever King was working just with characters and the generally scary stuff at the overlook hotel, frrom ghostly voices to mysterious party favours turning up unexpectedly, the book was fantastic.
indeed, it's interesting that you pretty much know what the books' final confrontation will be right from the start, but here's it's very much about the journey not the destination.
My only niggle with plot progression, is I did feel the hole "red rum" thing was a bit belaboured, given that the word doesn't appear anywhere, and while it's understandable that a five year old who barely knows how to spell would need to work out what "red rum", is spelled backwards, the fact that it accompanies visions of Danny's insane father whacking away with a roque mallet, didn't exactly make it too mysterious, indeed this is one aspect of the plot that turns up rather better in the film given that Wendy writes "murder", on the bathroom mirror with lipstick.
Beware! spoiling spoilers ahoy!
I really liked in this one as well, that despite the massive horror elements, only Jack torrence actually dies! It's odd, usually if in a book the author doesn't kill characters in obviously horrific or dramatic situations, I'll start to wonder if the author is simply deploying plot armour. Here though, I was so convinced Jack was going to Kill Wendy, I was genuinely both surprised and pleased he didn't.
maybe it was that as we knew the final confrontation would be between jack and His son, and that as we knew Dick Halloran was playing the cavalry here, Wendy was the only character whose fate seemed unclear, or maybe it was just that with so few main characters in the book, it seemed almost inevitable, this being a horror novel, one of them would die, and yee gods King was amazing at drawing the chase between the wounded Wendy and the stabbed shambling Jack corpse out, but this is one of the few occasions I can think of where the "everybody lives!" ending actually worked for me.
In general there's really not much to say, The Shining is just an incredibly good horror novel executed extremely well, combining humand and inhuman horror with strange visions and reality, indeed like Sherly Jackson's Haunting of Hill House it's one that really stands the test of time.
apparently my lady has read it three or four times, and still wanted to read it again with me, and I can absolutely see why.
With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)