The Shining Cover

The Shining

Stephen King

Supernatural thriller about a family’s stay in an isolated hotel.

Sometimes human places, create inhuman monsters.

Set at the fictional Overlook Hotel, The Shining sees Jack Torrance being newly-employed as a caretaker of Overlook for the Winter months, a time when the hotel becomes completely isolated by snow. The Overlook has a dark history having been the site of many fatal incidents. Although the hotel will be closed, Jack won’t be alone, bringing along his wife Wendy and son Danny. Jack has previously had troubles with anger management – being fired from his last job for lashing out, a fact that concerns Wendy. Meanwhile, Danny has a secret: he possesses supernatural powers; in particular, the gift of telepathy. As the family settle into their new lodging, odd events slowly start to occur… but who, or what, is behind it?

The Shining is famous for its blood-chilling plot. The supernatural elements of the novel keep the story in constant flux, leaving the reader in the dark on what will happen next. It is a sadistic twist on the conventional family retreat, one which leaves the characters feeling conflicted as they struggle to survive.

King is known for producing lengthy novels and The Shining is no exception – being around the 500-page count. Don’t be dissuaded by the size of this read though, King uses those pages perfectly, slowly building up tension to build to an epic finale. This is an essential read if horror and the supernatural is to your taste but King’s writing skill is masterful enough to draw in even those not likely to dabble in the genre. It may be a book you find yourself not finishing but that will be because you have no nerves left not because of poor literary quality.

How is the name of the hotel fitting for its actions and personality?

How does the use of a child character add greatly to the experience of the novel?

How did you find the pace of the novel? Did it complement the subject matter?

One of the themes explored by the novel is that of family relationships. King shows how a child can still love a parental figure even if they are abusive and suffer from alcoholism – what effect does this have?

What is the significance of Jack wiping his mouth throughout the novel, why does the frequency of this action, progress during the end of the novel?

What did you think of the supernatural themes of the novel? How do they influence the suspense that King is able to create?


Hallorann, working in Florida, receives Danny’s telepathic message requesting help and so rushes to aid them at Overlook. Once there, the animals carved into the Topiary attack him along with Jack. Jack then goes on to chase Danny through the hotel, finally trapping him. Danny realises that the thing before him is no longer his father, although, the real Jack is able to briefly gain consciousness and warn his son to run and that he loves him. Danny refuses to run away. After succumbing to complete control by the hotel, Jacks body severely damaged itself- attacking it’s face with a mallet to rid away the last of the former Jack.

Danny recalls that the hotel’s unstable boiler hasn’t been maintained properly leading it to build up pressure, he informs the hotel that it is going to explode as a result. As the Overlook in Jack’s body goes to fix the boiler, Danny, Wendy, and Hallorann try to escape. The Overlook is too late to save itself and subsequently the boiler explodes, laying waste to the entire hotel.

While leading Danny and Wendy away to safety, the hotel tries to possess Hallorann, but Hallorann is able to overcome it.

The book ends the summer after the events, now in a Maine Resort, the workplace of Hallorann. Danny, Wendy and Hallorann sit together, comforting one another over what transpired and the loss of Jack.

  • The Shining is Stephen King’s third book.
  • The basis for the novel came from King’s own stay in the Stanley Hotel – his model for The Overlook.
  • The Shining has been adapted twice. First into a largely successful film in 1980, directed by Stanley Kubrick, which Stephen King wasn’t completely satisfied with. King oversaw a TV adaptation in 1997, which he felt stayed true to the original novel.
  • King has revealed that he used his own experiences with alcoholism when crafting Jack Torrance.

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