The Shining by Stephen King

I am not much of a horror fan. Most of the time when I watch a horror flick I cover my face for the majority of the movie. They scare the crap out of me. This means that I don’t read a lot of horror either. Last year I read Stephen King’s On Writing and enjoyed his way with words. I decided to read more novels by him and started with Salem’s Lot.

The Shining was King’s third novel. Years ago I saw the movie and to be honest, I thought it was good, but not great. I really wasn’t expecting that much from the novel, but it’s on my 1001 list so I had to read it. After locating a copy at my library I decided now was as good a time as any.

Many know the gist of the story. Jack Torrance is in a bit of pickle. He’s lost his teaching job and his marriage is on the rocks. A buddy of his gets him a job to stay at a hotel in Colorado during the winter to oversee that nothing happens during the off-season. Jack, his wife, Wendy, and their son, Danny, all move into the Overlook Hotel. Once the snow begins to fall, they will not be able to leave the hotel until the spring. Jack is an aspiring writer and he hopes to use his time to finish a play and to spend some time with his wife and son and get his personal life back on track.

The Overlook has different ideas. Danny has the shine, which means he has telepathic abilities. And the hotel is haunted. Jack and Wendy don’t care or believe this in the beginning. Then things start to happen. Really weird things. Can the three survive the hotel and each other?

As I said, I wasn’t expecting much from this book. The movie was a little scary, but didn’t quite do it for me. The book, as it turned out, was much more terrifying. It’s over 400 pages and I flew through this one. Even though I was frightened by every sound in my flat at night, I couldn’t stop reading it. The Better Half had a jolly time jumping out behind doors and such since I was extremely nervous for several days. On two nights I got out of bed to make sure I locked all the doors. And if the Better Half was out of town I would have slept with all the lights on. I did this when I read ‘Salem’s Lot, which I read when I had the flat to myself.

Usually I don’t like to be scared, but I have to admit I really enjoyed reading this novel. Yes I had sleepless nights and one night I had the worst nightmares, but still that didn’t diminish my enjoyment factor. In fact, I think it enhanced it in some weird way. And I was shocked how different the book is to the movie. The movie, in my opinion, does not do the story justice. For those of you who are like me and a little bit chicken, you may want to give it a go. I liked it. And I plan on reading more novels by him.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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105 Responses to The Shining by Stephen King

  1. I watched the movie… The Shinning is the mother of Phyco Thriller!

  2. Vishy says:

    Nice review, TBM! I haven’t read Stephen King’s book, but have seen the movie version when I did a Stanley Kubrick festival a few years back. I liked the movie very much. It is nice to know that you found the book better than the movie. I want to read the book now. It is interesting that your Better Half created special effects to make King’s story come alive in your house 🙂 Oddly, for some reason, I haven’t read many Stephen King novels, though I have seen a few movies which are based on his books. The first one I read was a book jointly written by him and Peter Straub called ‘The Talisman’. I also remember reading another called ‘Rose Madder’. And I have read his ‘On Writing’, which I liked very much. I will try to read this book sometime. Thanks for this review.

    • TBM says:

      He’s one of those writers that I’ve always admired but had never taken the time to read. I’m like you, I’ve seen many of the movies based on his books. My favorites are Misery and Delores Claiborne. I remember seeing The Talisman when I was a kid and I think I’ve heard of Rose Madder, but haven’t read either of them. I’ll add them to my list. I’m sure I’ll read many more books by him. he ropes me into his stories. maybe I won’t tell the Better half when I am so I can get some sleep 🙂

  3. I’m so with you – on all fronts! I loved On Writing and The Shining, and I went through a phase of watching horror movies in my early twenties, but I won’t do it now. Too chicken 😉
    Aw, when he wiped his butt with the poison ivy… priceless.

  4. T.F.Walsh says:

    I did enjoy The Shining a lot…

    • TBM says:

      I was hooked from the beginning. And I didn’t expect it to be so character driven. I thought it would just be blood and guts.

  5. That’s the magic of Stephen King! He is such a talented writer that he can have you looking over your shoulder continuously and jumping at every sound you hear, and this stays with you a while after you’ve finished the book. I know people who have read “It” and are terrified of clowns from then on. I’m not sure if I told you this or not, but King is releasing a sequel to The Shining in the Fall called Doctor Sleep. I can’t wait!!! By the way, don’t be mad at me but I was laughing my head off picturing The Better Half jumping out and scaring you :).

    • TBM says:

      Oh I know if you were here you would join forces with the Better Half and scare the crap out of me. You two would come up with clever ways to get me to pee my pants from fear and then laughing. My best friend in Colorado scared me after we saw I Know What you Did Last Summer. When we got home she killed the power when I was in the basement (my studying cave) and stomped around upstairs on the hardwood floor in boots. I was pretty sure it was her, but there was that little bit of doubt. I laugh now. then I didn’t. Doctor Sleep–that should be interesting. And this same friend would beg me to go see scary movies with her. Then she would get terrified, go hide in the bathroom and then I would be in the theater all by myself. What you do for friends.

      Is The Stand scary? I have that one and 11.22.63 on my shelf.

    • I loved On Writing, but am not sure I am brave enough to read his other books

      • TBM says:

        If you get scared easily I wouldn’t start with this one. And if you have a partner who likes to torture you by jumping out at you, be ready to scream.

      • I jump out at people so I do not have to worry about that–I am not sure I am easily scared but my imagination is sometimes a bit too vivid

      • TBM says:

        I wish I wasn’t jumpy. Even when the phone rings, I’ll jump a foot. I don’t get a lot of phone calls these days 🙂

    • Listen Missy, you have to be nice to TBM–I think I kiddingly destroyed your reputation with her and I am slowly building it up again

      • TBM says:

        She hasn’t sent me any chocolates yet.

      • Hey, I’m the one who needs chocolate today!! This is turning into the week from hell at work. Yesterday we came in to find that our entire phone system had crashed, and it took most of the day to get it fixed. However, I am now stuck with a shitty phone that only works properly sometimes, and we have no more extra phones to switch mine with. Then today we came in to find that our tracking system attached to our photocopier had crashed, so now we can’t photocopy anything. I also spent all yesterday trying to hook up a new printer for one of my co-workers, but because we still use an ancient DOS program for our word processing, the new printers aren’t compatible!!!! Can you tell I’m in a crappy mood?? I’m thinking of hopping on a plane to London and getting smashed with you at the local pubs. What do you think?

      • TBM says:

        If I was you, I would say if nothing works in the office neither do I until it’s all fixed. Come on over. I happen to know a few pubs. we can find you a chocolate stout.

      • Oh hell ya!! Oh wait a minute. I’m not sure if the airport in Toronto is up and running today or not because the whole bloody city flooded yesterday with the torrential rain we had. Crap! I guess I’ll have to find a pub here :). You should Google flooding in Toronto and look at the pictures. It was really bad! Poor Mikey’s veggie garden was under water last night. I think he’s about ready to give up on it this year :(.

      • TBM says:

        I saw on the news some photos and and that many people are without power. You are flooding and we are having hot, dry, sunny weather. Something is wrong. Poor Mike. The garden has had some rough times this year. First it froze and now flooding.

      • I’m going to get Mother Nature some meds because she is obviously bipolar!!! At least it is really hot here because cold temps and flooding would really suck!

      • TBM says:

        Shhh…don’t make Mother Nature mad. who knows what will happen next.

  6. Mwah ha ha, the Better Half and I would make a great evil team :). But don’t worry, you’re not the only one – Mikey and the boys love scaring the crap out of me too! Love what your friend in Colorado did – that was hilarious!! We are a family of horror movie watchers and started the boys on them at a very early age so that they would get used to them. I think the most scared I ever got was when I watched The Blair Witch Project by myself at night. I don’t know if you ever saw it, but it was a really low budget horror movie that gained kind of a cult following. There was really no blood and gore, but it was the creepiest thing I ever saw, and I was literally afraid to get down off of the couch when it was finished LOL!! What a baby eh?

    As for The Stand, that is one book I don’t have, although a friend of mine keeps telling me that it is one of his best books. I almost bought it while I was in Kingston, but I bought that beautiful hard cover collection instead with The Shining, Carrie, and Salem’s Lot. 11.22.63 is not horror at all, but I absolutely loved it and was once again incredibly impressed by King’s talent. With your background in history, I’m sure you will enjoy it, but be prepared for it to mess with your head. It’s one of those books that keeps you constantly thinking and considering different possibilities and will have your mind whirling from start to finish. It’s a fantastic book!

    • TBM says:

      I saw Blair Witch in the theaters and boy did that movie make me sick. I know I love to travel, but I get motion sickness really easily. Getting to and from places is a nightmare for me. Let’s just say you don’t want to fly with me. So the movement of the camera and everything in that movie, I did not feel well. I think that aspect saved me from being terrified. I was trying not to lose my cookies in an extremely crowded theater. 3D movies have the same effect on me for some reason.

      What you don’t have The Stand and you’re a King fan? Can’t wrap my brain around that one. I thought that was a condition to say you are a fan. I hear people rave about it all the time. in 11.22.63, does he mess with historical facts? Sometimes that can get to me with my history background. However, if done well, like Inglorious Bastards I wasn’t bothered and enjoyed the movie.

      • I know what you mean about the camera movement. There was another movie called Cloverfield that was all done from the point of view of a person holding a video camera, and it made my stomach flip through the whole film.

        As for 11.22.63, I have read that King did extensive research to make the book historically accurate, although you have to keep in mind that the premise of the story is what happens if a person goes back and changes history, and that’s where the mind warp comes in.

        I have tons of Stephen King books, and I am going to be near a bookstore at lunch, so I might just buy The Stand so that you won’t call me a bad King fan anymore LOL!!

      • TBM says:

        I haven’t seen Cloverfield, but if I watch I may take some motion sickness pills beforehand.

        For some reason I’m okay with the changing history bit. It’s when someone tries to write historical fiction and then wanders down the wrong path I get a little upset. Sometimes I shout at the TV when I watch the History Channel. But doesn’t everyone?

        Now don’t let me bully you into buying a book. I know you hate buying books so I say don’t do it. Just don’t.

      • LOLOLOLOL!!! Me – hate buying books??? That’s sarcasm isn’t it? I’m going to buy it for sure now :).

      • TBM says:

        Nope, I’m putting my foot down. You are not allowed to buy the Stand!

      • Wahhhhh!!! Why not? I need a treat today :).

      • TBM says:

        Oh, alright. then I say, buy, buy, buy! Just don’t tell Mike I said that.

      • I’m even getting a fattening lunch too :). Chicken caesar wrap and french fries. Yayyyy!!!! That should make my day better right?

      • TBM says:

        Are the fries inside the wrap? Add a chocolate chip cookie. Cookies always make me feel better.

      • LOL!! No, the fries are separate, and I already had 3 chewy chocolate chip cookies when I got in at 9am this morning. Yes, I am a stress eater!! 🙂

      • TBM says:

        Chewy is the best part. I love chewy peanut butter cookies. I wish I had some now!

      • Go buy some and get A Discovery of Witches while you are out LOL!!

      • TBM says:

        Too lazy today. Did I mention it was hot? Not used to hot in London 🙂 I may melt.

      • Hot is good :). You should have seen Mike and I after 2 hours of hiking on Saturday in hot, humid weather. We were just dripping wet, but we both love the heat, so it’s all good!

      • TBM says:

        It you like hot and humid may I suggest the following: Malaysia, Honduras, Florida, the Caribbean, NYC, oh and Boston. I have some embarrassing stories dealing with the heat and humidity in each of these places. My body does not handle the two mixed together. I can do hot and I can do humid, but mix them and I have some problems. Right now in London it’s hot, but not too humid thank goodness. But I am getting up earlier so I can run. Later in the day, running is not an option.

      • I got it, I got it!!!! A beautiful complete and uncut edition of The Stand in trade paperback format so it falls open nicely :). And the bookstore is having a sidewalk sale starting on Thursday, so I think I will be going back!!

      • TBM says:

        Uncut–how many pages is it? My paperback is 817. 817! How does he write such large books and not get confused. I wish I could join you on Thursday. Let me know what you got!

      • 1152 pages!!! There are not many authors who can write a book that lengthy and well written, that can captivate the reader from start to finish. King has always been one of my favourite authors, although he did go through a stage where his books were over the top weird, and I did have trouble with a few of them. I went for quite a few years without reading any of his stuff, and then when I got back into them it was immediately obvious why he is so successful :). I wish you could join me on Thursday too, but I will definitely let you know what I got.

      • TBM says:

        Which are the over the top weird? 1152 pages! Is the print big or tiny?

      • I can’t remember off the top of my head which ones I thought were weird, but there were a couple where I thought to myself “this guy is getting really f*%$#d in the head LOL!! As for my copy of The Stand, the print is fairly small, so it’s a big-assed book that definitely won’t be finished in one night :). My friend at work, Marcy, keeps bugging me to read it right away because she says I will love it. It’s one of her favourite books of all time!

      • TBM says:

        You’re a fast reader though. I wonder how long it will take you. Did he start getting weird after his accident? I think I heard someone say that before, but I can’t remember.

      • I’m a fairly fast reader, yes, but this sucker is huge!! I just started the 4th Game of Thrones book too, and it is quite lengthy too. Great summer reads don’t you think? Now that you say that about his accident, that kind of rings a bell to me. Maybe that is when he went through a weird stage.

      • TBM says:

        I want to start Game of Thrones. I almost got a free copy in Malaysia since I was speaking with a woman who said she just finished the first book and wanted to give it away. Unfortunately we left the next day at 6am and I didn’t see her. I was tempted to knock on her cabin door and ask for it, but thought that might be a bit rude and pushy.

        Dude if I went through that accident and all the pain and fear I think I would have gone through a weird stage as well. Such a terrible thing to happen.

      • That really sucks how you missed out on the free copy, but you really should read Game of Thrones. It is a fantastic series, and I have really been enjoying the TV version as well.

      • TBM says:

        I refuse to watch the TV show until I read the books. Now sure when that will be.

  7. wolke205 says:

    I love Stephen King’s books! But I have to admit it took me almost 15 years to read this one 😉 I bought it when I was a child, and forgot it until the beginning of this year 😉

    The Stand is not scary..I think it s pretty boring …I have never read the book “It”, but I have seen the movie at the age of 6 or 7… From this on I could not sleep alone, I was so scared this bad clown would hide under the bed to wait for a chance to hurt me 😉

    • TBM says:

      I also saw ‘It’ when I was a kid and that movie did a number on me. I wonder if that’s why I don’t like horror films. So many nightmares. What’s your favorite King book?

      • wolke205 says:

        Phew – my favorit King book… I love Lisey’s Story and Duma Key 🙂 Insomnia was awesome too 🙂 I have read so many books written by him, I need more time to think about 🙂

        So I m not the only one with an “It” problem after watching it 😉

      • TBM says:

        “It” scared me to death. I can’t remember how old I was when I watched it, but I think I was younger than 12.

        I haven’t heard of Duma Key. Gosh he has written so many novels it’s amazing. At least I know I have many to choose from. thanks!

      • wolke205 says:

        Tell me which ones you read and how you liked it then 🙂

  8. I tried to watch The Shining but didn’t make it through. I don’t do well with scary movies or as you say “blood and guts”. Even The Husband says he couldn’t watch The Shining again.. 😯 I like my books and movies light and funny. Easy to do with movies but not so much with books. TBM am I having a befuddlement? Didn’t you do a meme where you reviewed a book on Tuesdays and we had a conversation and I told you I liked the idea and I would try to join in…..

    I am pretty sure way back in my youth I read Carrie and The Tommyknockers.

  9. the comment above is meant for Ms. Loony

  10. Loved the post as I could relate to it and you so much! Like you, I hate horror flicks since I feel quite embarrassed to be jumping up every other climactic moment in full view of one and all. Could this be weak nerves or is it my over-involvement with what I see, I wonder? Be as it may, I do hate leaving the theater with folks glancing at me in a bemused manner.

    Having said that, the scariest book I read decades back was “The Exorcist”. Being a bachelor those days, I had to keep the lights on in the night for quite awhile..


    • TBM says:

      One of my friends jumped in a theater during the movie ‘Misery’ and she actually pulled a stomach muscle. I couldn’t stop laughing in the theater and she was in agony. I wonder if I’m brave enough to read ‘The Exorcist’? How long did you have to leave the lights on?

  11. All I can say is redrum

    • TBM says:

      I wish I didn’t know what that meant when I read the book. Hard in today’s world to remain clueless and of course watching the movie beforehand didn’t help.

  12. elisaruland says:

    This is a great book review….you’ve almost convinced me to dive deeper into Kings list of novels. I’m a chicken too, and have only managed to read “Misery” which was painfully wonderful reading, and the novella “Stand by Me,” also wonderful but not very scary!

    • TBM says:

      I read Stand by Me years ago and really enjoyed it. Not sure I have the stomach for Misery. I enjoyed the movie, but I hear the book goes into much more detail. That might get to me. However, I won’t say I won’t read it. I’ll put it in the maybe column.

  13. Beth Ann says:

    I have never really gotten into Stephen King novels for some reason. I don’t know why. Great review!!! Makes me want to rethink reading his books!

  14. i’ve read duma key. bag of bones, the stand and the 1st dark tower book. the shining and pet sematary are on my to-read list. i loved the shining movie even back when i didn’t watch much horror. jack nicholson does such a good turn at insanity, and i love shelley duvall. scatman crothers was good casting, too, i thought. it’s one of the horror movies i re-watch through the years. thx for this review 🙂

    • TBM says:

      I would be curious to hear your thoughts since I thought the book was quite different from the movie. I did enjoy Jack in the movie. He’s such a character in any role he plays.

  15. Ooh you’re brave – I am a total wimp when it comes to horror!

  16. Can’t do scary movies or books. Period. May have something to do with the fact that my brother made we watch Dracula with him when I was five! Nightmares for years. . . .

    • TBM says:

      The book Dracula scared me to death. I read that when the better half was living in London and I was still in Boston. Once while walking Miles around a reservoir early in the am it was really foggy and I thought I was a goner for sure. I understand your fear!

  17. Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB) says:

    I enjoyed both the movie and the book. The movie more so because the outside shots of the hotel were filmed on Mt. Hood in Oregon. The story is a powerful commentary on the effects of alcoholism. King is a great horror writer, but deserves more credit for how expertly he can find the pulse of what’s wrong with society on so many levels. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel that will be out soon.

    • TBM says:

      This book proves to me even more that I don’t like pegging authors into a genre. For years I would avoid certain genres, which meant I avoided certain writers and now I’m finding out I missed out on some great stories. I understand the need for categories for bookstores and online, but it does create a dilemma for me and maybe others. As I get older, the only thing I care about is story. And King is a marvelous story teller.

  18. Jo Bryant says:

    Now I know that is NOT the book for me. After the burglary I hear every sound as it is and am already quite skittish…nope…not reading this one no matter how good.

  19. I read Stephen King’s Cujo, sitting alone in a 8000 square feet yard that was used to dry peanuts before being pressed for oil. It belonged to my brother in law (the yard I mean) and it was in a small town called Cuddalore in S.India. My BIL’s house was next door to the oil mill.It was during my kid’s summer vacation. Everyone was at his house playing board games while I chose to sit out in the yard and read Cujo. It was eerie..the book and my location. I still remember scurrying indoors to finish the book, sitting in the safety of the noisy atmosphere.

    • TBM says:

      I can picture you sitting there, getting more and more nervous. No wonder you ran inside to be with people. I would! Will add Cujo to my King list. Thanks so much for sharing the story. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who gets scared but can’t put the book down.

  20. I love love LOVE Stephen King. He is my very favorite author and I’ve read just about everything he’s written. The movies based on his books are rarely as good (though The Shawshank Redemption was amazing and Misery was Fabulous). I hope you read some more of his books! The Cell is newer and very “current”.

    • TBM says:

      I’m sure I will read more by him. So far, The Shining and ‘Salem’s Lot have impressed me. Is the book Misery more gruesome than the movie?

  21. Fergiemoto says:

    I’ve seen the movie, but I don’t like horror movies. It left me feeling way too scared.

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