The Shining

Book: The Shiningshining

Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Doubleday
Date: 1977
Genre: Horror
ISBN: 9780345806789
Price: $7.99
Number of Pages: 683
Available Formats: Hardback, Paper back, E-book, Audio

Rating: 3Q, 3P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

Links to Reviews

Readers Annotation

Jack Torrence has found the perfect working situation: acting as caretaker for a swanky hotel during the winter with his wife and son while having time to write his new book. However, the hotel is more than what it seems, and his perfect situation turns into a living nightmare.

Plot Summary

After getting fired from his teaching job for assaulting a student, Jack Torrence and his wife Wendy and son Danny are in financial straits. Jack needs to find a new job, and with his teaching career ruined, he turns to a winter caretaker position for the Overlook Hotel. It seems like the ideal situation, as he can bring his family with him and work on his novel during his stay. Jack also hopes he can repair his rocky marriage and bond with his troubled son, Danny, whose arm he accidently broke during a drunken argument. However, Jack’s hopes begin to dwindle as a sinister presence in the hotel begins to play with his mind. Danny, who has been told that he has “the shining,” a form of psychic power, is also being affected by the hotel, as he sees horrifying images from the hotel’s troubled past. Danny relies on his imaginary friend Tony to get him through these experiences. What Danny and his parents don’t understand is that his power is feeding the hotel’s sinister spirits. As the winter progresses, Jack begins to decline rapidly and things go from bad to worse for the Torrence family.

Critical Evaluation

Everyone knows that King is a master of the horror genre, and “The Shining” is no exception. The novel stands up as one of his scariest and well-written stories. One of the reasons for this is that he crafts interestingly flawed characters, especially Jack, who struggles with his inner demons throughout the book. Jack is far from being a cut-and-dry hero or villain. Instead, we get to see both his good and bad qualities. Part of the brilliance of the novel is that we get to see Jack’s slow deterioration into madness, but still manage to see glimpses of his humanity and love for his son. None of the characters ever fall into a stereotype, which would have been easy to do, especially for Wendy. At first, you think she’s just another abused housewife. However, as the novel goes on, you get to see her inner strength. She has her own faults, one of which being her inability to take action against her husband. As things get more desprate at the hotel, however, Wendy is able to overcome this in order to protect her son. With Danny, King writes convincingly from a child’s perspective. It is immediately apparent that Danny is special, but he is also just a confused kid who is struggling to understand his powers. Danny’s young age and lack of awareness also creates more suspense, as the readers are more aware of what is going on than he is. King shows with these characters that you can have fully realized characters in the horror genre without giving up the scares.

Appeal Factors

Atmospheric; Creepy; Menacing; Suspenseful


Starter House by Sonja Condit

Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

Discussion Ideas

  • Discuss the Kubrick movie and how the book is different
  • Discuss the negative effects of isolation on the psyche

Justification of Selection

There is a reason Stephen King has been a mainstay for so many years. He is a master at the horror genre and The Shining holds as one of his best.


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